On paper, the Pacers are better than they were last season.
Not so fast Pacers’ fans. They are close, very close. There is still one more move to make before they can solidify their position as a true contender.
The Pacers must find a closer.
In Granger’s case, he has an NBA All-Star selection on his resume. He is a proven scorer though not very prolific. He scored more than 30 points only three times last season.
It is a clear indication that Granger’s killer instincts are missing.
That is not a knock on him, but players must do whatever it takes to win ballgames.
Whatever it takes requires scoring 40 points when it is necessary. It means getting that tough rebound from LeBron James’ grip. A closer may also have to make that defensive stop in order to send the game into overtime.
If Granger has "the closer gene" in his DNA, he must prove it this season. If not Granger, does George have what it takes to be the Pacers’ closer?
George is going into his third NBA season. Is he ready to rise to the challenge of closing out games for the Pacers?
He has all of the tools to be a wonderful NBA player. There are only a few players who can match George’s athleticism, but does he take full advantage of this?
He only averaged 9.7 shots last season, and over a third of those attempted shots per game, 3.5, came from the three-point line. His jump shot has improved, but for a player with ball-handling skills of his caliber, George should be taking the ball to the lane more often.
If he, indeed, drives to the lane with more regularity, George would force opposing defenses to collapse down the paint. This would create opportunities for Granger, Hibbert and David West. It would also allow George Hill more freedom to roam the perimeter for spot-up opportunities.
If George would drive to the lane more often the Pacers would be a better team. He would nicely fit into the role of the Pacers' closer, have the ball in his hands and put his teammates in the position to compete with the Celtics and the Heat.
For any answers outside of the Pacers’ current roster, it is too early to speculate on the trading block for a player with a closer's mindset.
Closers can come in many forms. Closers do not have to be full-time players. They, however, must be willing to take the last shot without fear of missing. In essence, they must do whatever it takes to win ballgames.