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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

SDH's 2012/2013 NBA Worst to First Previews and Predictions: 2. Indiana Pacers

Overall Win/Loss Record :  42-24 second place Central Division

Last Season’s Rank

 6
Projected 2012/2013 Finish

2
Last season’s Team Statistics and League Rank
  • Points Scored: 97.7 (13th)
  • Points Allowed: 94.4 (10th)
  • Team FG%: .438 (24th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .435 (6th)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.9 (4th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 42.3 (17th)


Returning Individual Statistical Leaders



Projected Starters Based on Last Season’s Performance, Veteran Seniority and Projected Impact


Key Reserves Based on Last Season’s Performances, Veteran Seniority and Potential Impact.
  1. George Hill (G)
  2. Tyler Hasbrough (PF)
  3. Gerald Green (G/F)
  4. Ian Mahinimi (C)
  5. Miles Plumlee (PF)


2012/2013 Projection:  59-23 first place in the Central Division—the Miami Heat needs to be afraid, be very afraid.

Analysis:

Last season the Indiana Pacers were just two games away from ripping the hearts out of South Beach hoops fans, sending Lebron and company back home sulking, and coach Erik Spoelstra from looking for a new job.  Grabbing that two games to one lead certainly had the media buzzing as they questioned whether or not Lebron James had the goods to lead Miami to its second NBA title.  Unfortunately for Pacers fans, Lebron and company proved their doubters wrong as they won the next three games clinching the series in splendid fashion.  Pacer fans were then left with asking themselves “what if?” had they managed to pull of the impossible and defeated the mighty Miami Heat.  Now with a completely revamped roster thanks to a rather busy offseason, the Pacers have given their fans even more optimism; add the fact that next season, their team are in the ideal situation as they have the perfect scenario not only take the Eastern Conference crown but also an even better chance to usurp the Heat to represent the East in the NBA Finals.

To start off, this upcoming season has given the Indiana the ideal opportunity to completely dominate their own Central Division as they will have little if any competition whatsoever.  Their biggest divisional rival, the Chicago Bulls, will come into the season with a weaker roster than before and will be playing most of the season without their star Derrick Rose.  The Bulls with their diminished roster will probably finish at best a distant second to Indiana while the rest of the teams in the Central Division will not be even worth mentioning.  Both the Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers are projected to be perennial bottom feeders of the Eastern Conference while the Milwaukee Bucks continue to walk that thin line teetering between being average and mediocre.  Add the welcomed new additions to the roster, the Pacers also will start the season with one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the league.

Very few teams, if any, can boast a roster that is ten players deep who have the ability to start on any NBA team; however, the Pacers managed to do so by upgrading their already strong lineup with even more size and talent.  They started by trading away the disappointing starting point guard Darren Collison along with swingman Dahntay Jones to the Dallas Mavericks for up and coming young big man Ian Mahinimi.  Mahinimi came off a career season with the Mavs averaging close to six points and five rebounds per game along with shooting .548 from the field—producing that all in less than 20 minutes per game.  He will be backing up the Pacers’ All Star, Roy Hibbert, whom Indiana resigned to a long term extension this past summer.  Add them with the power forward tandem of David West and Tyler Hansbrough, Indiana has assembled one of the strongest toughest and most physical front courts in the league.

In addition to their rather imposing front court, the Pacers also made a couple of low key moves that will make them an even stronger force to be reckoned with in the NBA.  They picked up DJ Augustin, who was cast aside by the Charlotte Bobcats as they declined on tending him a qualifying offer making him an unrestricted free agent.  Although he played on the team with the worst record in NBA history, Augustin posted solid numbers last season averaging 11 points and six assists.  He will certainly be an improvement from Darren Collison who had one of the lowest averages for assists per game for a starting point guard in the league.  The Pacers also adding the high flying Gerald Green who made an amazing comeback after his disappointing first stint in the NBA coming to the league straight out of high school.  Originally arriving as late season pickup from the then New Jersey Nets, Green exploded off the bench averaging close to 13 points, four rebounds and a steal per game while shooting .481 from the field in a little over 25 minutes of playing time.

With the four new additions to the Pacers lineup, the Miami Heat should be more than a little concerned.  Here comes the same team that almost eliminated them in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals last season with a much improved lineup who can cause even more problems defensively to Lebron James and company.  Armed with the defense first mantra and blue collar attitude instilled by coach Frank Vogel, Indiana has the chance to unseat the Miami Heat from its rather huge pedestal to attain the crown that has always alluded them—an NBA Championship trophy.  In fact, one can go as far to say that with the current state of the league, Indiana is probably the only team in the league that is a match for the Miami Heat—not the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, nor the San Antonio Spurs.  All the other teams do not hold a candle next to the Heat, save for the Pacers as they are by default, the only obstacle that stands in the Heat’s way for a second consecutive NBA title.