The Indiana Pacers finished with the fifth-best record in the NBA last season. How does this Pacers team outperform their 42-24 record last year? Perhaps the answer lies within what they didn't lose, as opposed to what they added.
The Pacers gave massive contracts to both George Hill and Roy Hibbert to keep them in Indiana. Knowing they would not be landing any big-name free agents, their best option was to keep the well-rounded players they already have. Keeping the young nucleus intact was the main goal all along.
While they return their five starters, there are some new additions to this year's team that will look to make an impact. How will this affect the rest of the team? Lets break down the projections for the 12 players who will be in this year's rotation.
The rookie guard played well this summer in Orlando. Fitting, given his name. In five games, he averaged 12.4 points, five rebounds and three assists per game. He only shot 21 percent from three and just 62 percent at the free-throw line.
His rebounding was impressive, and his perimeter defense was very good. The 6'5", 225-pound guard from UC Santa Barbara might not get much playing time as a rookie, but he could see his role increase if Lance Stephenson isn't able to get the job done.
2012-2013 Predictions: 2.1 PPG, 0.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.4 SPG, 41% FG, 64% FT
Indiana's first-round pick in this year's draft had a lot of eyes on him during the Orlando Summer League. For good reason, though, as the pick was blasted as the most head-scratching of the entire draft. While he didn't set the world on fire in his five games, he didn't exactly disappoint.
Plumlee left Orlando averaging 13 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. The seven-footer was believed to get some time behind Roy Hibbert this upcoming season, until the Pacers made the trade with Dallas. He won't see the floor much this year, but he could still have a role on this team.
2012-2013 Predictions: 2.2 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.5 BPG, 51% FG, 70% FT
Stephenson led the team in Orlando this summer with 19.8 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 turnovers per game. The last statistic is the one we are concerned with the most. He shot the ball well from the floor at 53 percent, but struggled at the free-throw line. He shot just 58 percent through four games.
If it's ever going to work in Indiana, it has to be this year for Stephenson. After two years of riding the bench, "Born Ready" will need to make an impact this season. Last season, he averaged 2.5 PPG, 1.1 APG, and 1.3 RPG, playing in 42 games. Again, he shot just 47 percent from the free-throw line, which must improve.
2012-2013 Predictions: 4.7 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 2.8 APG, 0.6 SPG, 43% FG, 59% FT
After an impressive sophomore season in 2010-2011, where he averaged 11 points and five rebounds per game, Tyler's production slumped last year. He went down in nearly every statistical category, and he wasn't nearly as involved in the offense. His shooting percentage and defense suffered, and his minutes decreased.
Tyler should be working hard to bounce back from last season. The competition is heating up too, so he isn't guaranteed any playing time from Frank Vogel. He will have to become a more consistent player on offense and not try to force things so much. He is a little undersized to guard most big men, but he should be used to that by now.
2012-2013 Predictions: 10.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.1 BPG, 48% FG, 74% FT
Perhaps the biggest part of the trade with Dallas was the acquisition of Mahinmi. The Pacers have been looking for front court help for years now. They finally seem to have a reliable backup center for Hibbert. His size, athleticism and youth will allow him to blend in perfectly with Indiana's nucleus.
The four-year veteran averaged 5.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 0.5 BPG last year with Dallas. His career shooting numbers are respectable at 56 percent from the floor and 69 percent from the line. He will easily see his minutes jump this year in Indiana, where they will rely heavily on him every night.
2012-2013 Predictions: 6.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.8 BPG, 54% FG, 72% FT
When the Pacers signed Green this offseason, it turned a lot of heads around the league. He is being compared to Paul George for obvious reasons, as they are two of the most spectacular dunkers in the NBA. Their overall games aren't that much different either.
The 26-year-old averaged 12.9 points per game last year for the Nets. The Pacers will be the sixth team he will have played for since entering the league in 2005. He thinks he has finally found a home, a place where he can contribute to a winning organization. Indiana will need him to step up and be the player everyone thinks he can be.
2012-2013 Predictions: 11.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.7 SPG, 45% FG, 80% FT
The move to Indiana from Charlotte will be a great one for Augustin. He will finally be surrounded by great talent, which will open up his game even more. He should fit right in with the Pacers because he is so similar to George Hill.
The 24-year-old guard from Texas is a great offensive weapon, even though he is considered to be slightly undersized. Last season, he averaged 11 points and nearly seven assists per game on the worst team in the league. He will be another weapon the Pacers can use in tight games, as he is one of the best free-throw shooters in the league.
2012-2013 Predictions: 10.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 6.5 APG, 0.7 SPG, 42% FG, 87% FT
Expectations are high for Hill after taking over the starting point guard position and allowing the Pacers to send Darren Collison to Dallas. Oh yeah, there's that fat contract he signed this summer too.
While there is little doubt that he can shoulder the load for this team, he will have to keep performing at the level he has been during his NBA career.
Hill led the team in assists last season and will probably do the same again this year. His scoring should go up a little, as he takes on a little more of the offensive load without Collison and Barbosa in the fold. His shooting percentages from the floor and the free-throw line are good, but he needs to bump his three-point shooting up just a little.
2012-2013 Predictions: 11.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.6 APG, 0.9 SPG, 44% FG, 78% FT
Everyone is expecting George to take that next step this season. After somewhat of a breakout year, there is still a lot of room for improvement. His ball-handling skills should be priority No. 1, and his three-point shooting still needs a little work.
Last season, Paul averaged 12.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 2.4 APG for the Pacers as the starting two guard. The 22-year-old also led the team in steals last year. His game is growing rapidly, and many expect him to be the face of this franchise for the foreseeable future.
2012-2013 Predictions: 14.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 46% FG, 79% FT
Danny has been the guy in Indiana for the better part of the last five seasons. His offensive skills far outweigh his defense, but it has been improving. He should be rebounding more with his size, and the biggest issue with him is that he is settling for too many jump shots.
Granger once again led the Pacers in scoring last year, but might not do it again in 2012-2013. His scoring average has dropped in each of the last four seasons, reaching just 18.2 PPG last year. He only averaged five rebounds per game last year, and that has to improve.
2012-2013 Predictions: 17.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 42% FG, 86% FT
Not many people knew what to expect from West last season, coming back from injury. He wasn't the explosive player he was in New Orleans, but his game may actually be better because of it. His upper-body strength was used to his advantage on a nightly basis, and his body control and veteran leadership are the perfect fit for this young Indiana team.
West was the go-to guy late in games last season. When the Pacers absolutely needed a basket, he was there to deliver. His calming presence was exactly what the young squad needed in pressure situations. His numbers were right where they should have been, and they should stay steady here in year number two.
2012-2013 Predictions: 13.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.7 BPG, 48% FG, 81% FT
Hibbert is locked in as the building block of the future for the Pacers. After signing his max offer this summer to stay in Indiana, the 7'2" center will look to build on what was his first career All-Star selection a season ago. Since being drafted by the Pacers in 2008, he has made huge strides in every aspect of his game.
Last year, he led the team in rebounds and blocks and will probably do the same again this season. He averaged 12.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and his two blocks per game were the fifth-highest in the league. Roy has improved in nearly every statistical category since his rookie season. There's no reason to think that won't continue in 2012-13.
2012-2013 Predictions: 13.4 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.7 BPG, 47% FG, 74% FT