As I watched the Indiana Pacers throttle the Denver Nuggets on Monday night, I wondered who the official team captain is.
With such a balanced group, there are a few different options I considered. There is Paul George, the young, but extremely talented wing who has taken over the scoring reigns for the team. George is also set to take a new 5-year, $90 million contract under his wings after this season, making him the highest paid Pacer.
Then there’s Roy Hibbert, the big man in the middle. Hibbert began taking over the community soon after his arrival in Indianapolis back in 2008. He has appeared all over town, including a scene at Circle Center Mall in downtown Indianapolis when he danced to ‘Gangnam Style.’ Hibbert is currently under contract through the 2015-16 season after accepting a 4-year, $58 million extension in the summer of 2012.
George Hill could also be considered in the Indiana Pacers team captain discussion. Hill is the only Indianapolis native on the Pacers’ roster, having graduated from Broad Ripple High School in central Indianapolis and Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis, located just blocks away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Hill is in the midst of a 5-year, $40 million contract. While contracts aren’t necessarily important when it comes to the team captain, it can be a measure of each player’s accomplishments on the court and in the locker room.
Finally, there is David West. The 6-9 power forward came over from New Orleans in free agency before the 2011 season. He had just undergone ACL surgery and had to prove himself worthwhile. West has done that and more, taking over as the voice of the Indiana Pacers locker room and the right-hand man of head coach Frank Vogel.
West signed a 3-year, $36 million contract extension before this season, keeping him in Indianapolis through the 2015-16 season.
I spoke to Scott Agness of Pacers.com on Monday, and I asked him who the official team captain is.
“Don’t have an official (captain). Hibbert goes out for the (pre-game) handshake,” Agness said via text. “West is the leader.”
And it makes perfect sense. West has been the nucleus inside of a young core of talented players. He has been there, done that in the NBA. West understands the league, knows what it takes to win and represents what it means to be a professional. He has also been right in the middle of things when it comes to helping his teammates gain confidence and mature as players.
These Indiana Pacers win by committee. There is a different leading scorer every night. A different player that makes the final shot to win the game. That’s the way they like it.