Friday, January 20, 2012

Don't Sleep on the Pacers

Somehow, the Indiana Pacers are 9-4 this year.

That doesn't make any sense to a casual basketball fan. I mean, ask anyone on the street "who is the Pacers best player?" and they might say " Reggie Miller still on the team?" or, you might get a blank stare, or possibly even a slap, depending on the person. Some would say Danny Granger, simply because he is the one recognizable name on the roster.

I doubt any passionate basketball casual fan can say much more about the Pacers than Danny Granger is one of the high volume shooter/scorer guys who puts up big numbers, because he puts up a lot of shots. In fact, they might argue, it is because of Danny Granger's inefficiency that the Pacers are usually in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference.

Which brings us to this year. The Indiana Pacers are 9-4.

Any ESPN analyst will look at the roster, look at the numbers and say "this team won't survive long in the playoffs." And they may be right. After all, despite giving up only 89.2 points per game, fourth best in the league, their average margin of victory is a paltry 3.6 points, as they score only 92.8. Sure they're winning the close games now, but what will happen come playoff time?

I don't see it that way, however.

This team is winning in spite of its two best players, who have gotten off to slow starts. I believe Danny Granger is a solid player, not a star, but definitely the best player on his team. His career scoring average is 18.1 ppg, along with 5 rpg and 2.3 apg. His numbers this year are 15.3 ppg, 1.4 apg and 4.4 rpg. Those number will come up, I believe.

Also, free agent signee David West, who was a consistent 17-8 guy for his former team, the New Orleans Hornets, is currently putting up 11.1 points and 6.7 rebounds, and coaches attest that to learning his new offense. Not to mention, the massive roadblock that exists in the Pacers frontcourt (Tyler Hansbrough, Roy Hibbert and Granger all take minutes and shots away from him) has prevented him from blossoming thus far.

Those two players are capable of much more than what they are showing. And I firmly believe that the remainder of their starting five, PG Darren Collison, SG George Hill and center Hibbert are all exceptional role players who can help the two best players thrive.

This team has 8 total players above a Player Efficiency Rating of 13. That shows a deep team, one of players that play within their means, and a team that can do some damage once the stars come out. I would be interested to see if my good friend Jason would do a JPoint rating for the Pacers, as we now know that this statistic proves beyond a reasonable doubt if a team is good or not.

Don't sleep on the Pacers.

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