4 Expectations for Indiana Pacers Without Larry Bird Running the Show
Seemingly overnight, the Indiana Pacers have turned into contenders in the Eastern Conference.
While Pacers fans know that building this team took much longer than overnight, their sudden wealth of talent seemed to surprise much of the NBA last season.
Larry Bird has to be at the top of the list for those responsible for this change.
Bird, the executive of the year last season, was responsible for drafting All-Star Roy Hibbert and the up-and-coming Paul George, as well as making a few key acquisitions and trades.
Unfortunately, Bird will have to watch how his newest acquisitions fare this season from his couch, as he stepped down from his position after last season. Because of that, the Pacers will have a different set of expectations this year.
Miles Plumlee Will Struggle to Find Playing Time
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Miles Plumlee may be one of the more confusing draft picks of the 2012 NBA Draft. The 24-year-old was taken 26th by the Pacers last year even though it seemed like he would go in the second round.
By some accounts, he was picked because Larry Bird loved him. While that is nice and all, he almost certainly would have been there at the Pacers next pick, No. 36, which makes it a questionable call.
What will be interesting to see is whether he is able to gain any playing time since Larry Bird is now gone. The team traded for Ian Mahinmi during the offseason, which filled their void at backup center.
If Bird had been in the Pacers' front office, he may have been able to lobby for some playing time for Plumlee in the hopes of cultivating a talent that everybody had ignored. Since he is not there, however, it is unlikely that Plumlee will see much game time at all.
The Pacers Won't Make Any Major Moves This Season
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While many may say that the Pacers are at least one top star from competing, I don't believe that they will make any major trades this coming season.
For one, there really won't be any star players available to trade for. Most of them are locked up with their current teams or are waiting until the offseason to sign a long-term deal, like Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.
If the Pacers can't get a top-15 talent, then they are best served with a roster full of solid, talented players, and their management knows that.
At this point, it may be in the teams best interest to wait for the development of Paul George and Roy Hibbert, since both seem to be headed for good careers.
I believe that the Pacers should trade Danny Granger at some point, but it is unlikely that they will do so. Instead, they will stand as they are and give it at least one more go at a championship.
The Pacers Will Have an Underwhelming 2013 Draft
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The Pacers have had some success over the past few years with draft picks, most notably Danny Granger in 2005, Roy Hibbert in 2007 and Paul George in 2010.
Still, they have had their share of misses, including Shawne Williams in 2006.
Also, Donnie Walsh, the man who took over for Larry Bird, has had very mixed results in his history of draft picks. While he did select Iman Shumpert, a player I really like, he also took Jordan Hill at No. 8 in 2009 and Fred Jones with the No. 14 pick in 2002.
Combine both of those factors with the fact that the Pacers are likely looking at another pick in the 20s, and it is fair to say that next year's draft will be underwhelming for Indiana.
Everything Will Be Almost the Same as Last Season
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Larry Bird has had a huge impact on the Pacers organization. While he made some mistakes, he also had a huge hand in building the team that they have now.
Still, his absence will likely not show within a season. The real difference will be a few years down the line when the team has new players and new draft picks.
I expect this season to be almost the same for the Pacers as last. Both Roy Hibbert and Paul George will continue to grow as they get more experience, but the team will not improve drastically.
Larry Bird was a great Pacer, but his impact won't be apparent until a few years from now.