Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
One can't underestimate the improvement the Indiana Pacers made by re-signing two key players in Roy Hibbert and George Hill and picking up two helpful reserves in D.J. Augustin and Ian Mahinmi.
Retaining Hibbert was the difference between being in the Eastern Conference finals and being stuck in first-round elimination range next season. Hibbert is a very special center. He's long, athletic and quick for a big man. The Georgetown product is a fantastic shot-blocker, a strong rebounder and a capable scorer.
He truly has a unique skill set that, while not qualifying him for the maximum salary he received, makes him valuable.
Hill came up big for the Pacers at the end of the season. He rose to the starting point-guard position towards the end of the regular season and continued in that role in the playoffs. He averaged an impressive 13.5 points per game while shooting 44.8 percent from the field in the playoffs.
His jump in scoring helped make up for poor shooting from Danny Granger.
The signing of D.J. Augustin brings the true point-guard presence that the Pacers have lacked. Augustin averaged more than six assists per game the last two years. He had a strong, 38.9-percent assist rate in 2011-12.
How many minutes Augustin will play is hard to tell, since Hill just entered the starting role towards the end of the regular season. Augustin will help facilitate the offense in a way that Hill doesn't.
Acquiring Mahinmi put a real backup center behind Hibbert. In his first year playing significant minutes, Mahinmi was a huge helper. He averaged 4.7 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per game. His per-36-minute average was a nice 9.1 rebounds. He was a reliable shooter, hitting 54.6 percent from the field.
Also, he restrained his tendency to foul, committing 5.6 fouls per 36 minutes, down from 7.7 per 36 minutes the previous season.
He'll strengthen the Pacers rotation, ensuring quality play in the second unit.
By retaining two promising young players and adding two solid backups, the Pacers helped their chances of challenging the Heat deep in the playoffs.