Indiana Pacers: Top 10 Realistic Expectations for 2013
The Indiana Pacers did the impossible last year.
They made Indiana residents partially forget about the Colts.
For over a decade, Indy was dominated by one sports team and one first name.
Now, the basketball gods have spoken, and the state of Indiana has officially become a basketball one, yet again.
That being said, the Pacers still have a long way to go before they are considered a favorite.
Here are the top 10 realistic expectations for this team.
Roy Hibbert Will Become the Best Center in the East
OK, so this one is kind of cheating.
Hibbert was easily in the top three of Eastern Conference centers last year; one of the two before him has been traded, and the other is entering his likely last season on the court.
The only real threat to Hibbert is Andrew Bynum, but Roy should get the better of that matchup this year and for the foreseeable future.
Hibbert needs to continue to hone his offensive chops, but there is no reason to believe that he can't be the NBA's next big thing.
Paul George Will Become the Man
The best comparison in describing Paul George is Danny Granger.
The funny thing about that is that George is poised to eclipse Granger this year as the Pacers' swing man of the future.
George has good range, solid athleticism and the ability to grab rebounds.
He is also nearly a decade younger than Granger and makes the veteran swing man expendable via trade.
Danny Granger Will Not Survive the Season as a Pacer
Danny Granger was another example of a smart Larry Bird move.
Bird recognized Granger's immense talent early and turned him into one of the league's top small forwards.
But, the curse of Bird is that not only will he uncover a gem, but he will uncover another one.
Granger is somewhat expendable now that Paul George has emerged as a younger version of him.
But, the Pacers have other pressing needs to deal with, and Granger just doesn't have long-term value to this squad.
D.J. Augustin Will Supplant George Hill
When the Pacers brought George Hill over from San Antonio, most thought he would fill a similar role.
Darren Collison was firmly entrenched as the starter, and Hill was supposed to be a solid backup with perimeter scoring skills.
But, Collison got hurt and proved ineffective, and Hill looked really good at the end of last year.
That being said, Augustin is supremely more talented athletically and could become a game-changer for the Pacers.
He has the quickness that Hill lacks and could be the distributor that this team has lacked since Mark Jackson left town.
The Pacers Will Win the Central
It has been nearly a decade since the Pacers challenged for the Central Division crown.
But, with the Bulls nursing their Rose wound and the rest of the division a train wreck, the Central is the Pacers' for the taking.
Obviously, the Bucks could make a run and make some folks believers, but this Pacers team is more talented top to bottom than any other squad in the division.
This is the easiest of predictions in this grouping.
David West Will Be the Most Consistent Post Scorer in the East
In a lot of ways, David West is a throwback.
He is your prototypical, back-to-the-basket scorer who uses his lower-body strength and body control to bully opponents over.
The history of the league is littered with players like that, but in recent memory, those types of players are rare.
West is not an elite rebounder, and his defense is weak at best.
But, he knows how to bully his way to the hoop, and he should cement himself as the best low-post scorer in the league this year.
Miles Plumlee Will Be a Valuable Sub
Miles Plumlee had a storied NCAA career at Duke.
That being said, nobody really thinks he has much of a future in the NBA.
Count this guy as a detractor in that thinking.
The Pacers are a smart team. They do the right things on offense and defense and rarely commit unforced errors.
Plumlee is the perfect fit for this team.
He is big, strong and knows his way around the hoop.
More than anything, he will be a valuable backup for Hibbert and should become a fan favorite in Indianapolis.
Tyler Hansbrough Will Continue to Flounder
OK, I get it.
Hansbrough is a fan favorite who leaves it all out on the court.
There is a lot to love about that.
But, he also has a career that is trending downwardly.
After seeing his numbers take a jump as a second-year player, he failed to start a game as a third-year guy, and saw nearly all his numbers take a dip last year.
Most concerning of all was the fact that he shot only about 40 percent from the field.
The sad news is that there really isn't a huge market for guys like Hansbrough.
He isn't bulky enough to be a force down low, and he doesn't have the quickness to be a perimeter player.
His best chance is to be an energy guy off the bench, but Plumlee should eat into his minutes this year.
Gerald Green Will Prove to Be a Steal
For plenty of folks, Green is just that one-hit wonder who once won the Slam Dunk title.
But last year, Green showed that he had an entirely new second act.
Green burst onto the scene with the Nets and averaged nearly 13 points per game after a prolonged absence from the league.
He not only showed that he could still be explosive with the ball in the open court, but he also learned how to shoot.
Green, in conjunction with George and Augustin should form one of the most dynamic open-court scoring options in the league.
The Pacers Will Get Blown out in the Playoffs
I hate to say it since I really do like this team, but the Pacers are not built to be successful in the playoffs.
Sure, they have a good scoring option down low, and they can play defense, but they lack a dynamic scorer.
Granger and George alone are not enough to carry this team much further than the first round.
The only hope that this team has is to package Granger as an elite scorer who can get to the hoop.
At the end of the day, this squad is one penetrating swing man away from contention, and those types of players are not easily had.
If they cross paths with Miami, it will not be pretty.