The Indiana Pacers made significant strides in 2011-12. After a dismal 37-45 record the previous season, the team signed battle-tested veterans George Hill, David West and Leandro Barbosa to fortify its lineup and go deeper into the playoffs.
The Pacers finished with a 42-24 record in a lockout-shortened season and were actually up two games to one against the eventual champion Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals before succumbing in six hard-fought games.
Now, the bigger question looms—Will the Pacers take another step forward, or will they regress?
One factor that should be considered is their bench strength. For this Indiana team to earn homecourt advantage in the postseason, their fortified bench has to step up during the regular season to help the team win as many games as possible. Come playoff time, it will also be relied on to spell the Pacers’ starters and make key plays.
Here are the key losses from the 2011-12 bench:
Dahntay Jones (5.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0.97 apg): This veteran swingman never really got it going. Jones was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, along with former starting point guard Darren Collison on July 12 in exchange for backup center Ian Mahinmi.
Leandro Barbosa (8.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.5 apg): When the Pacers lost their chance at signing Jamal Crawford in the 2012 offseason, they made an attempt to acquire more veteran leadership and an additional scoring punch at the 2 spot by signing Barbosa on March 15. He was acquired by the Boston Celtics on October 18.
Louis Amundson (3.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.2 apg): Amundson played a bigger role when 13-year veteran center Jeff Foster announced his retirement on March 21 due to nagging back problems. Amundson filled in admirably, even showing occasional flashes of brilliance on the offensive end. He signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves on September 24.
A.J. Price (3.9 ppg, 2.0 apg, 1.4 rpg): Price was the designated third point guard. He showed some poise, maturity and improved leadership when called upon. He signed with the Washington Wizards on July 30.
Kyrylo Fesenko (2.7ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.3 apg): The Ukrainian-born center was fourth in the 5-spot rotation behind Hibbert, Amundson and Jeff Pendergraph. He was acquired by the Pacers mainly for his size (7’1” and 280 lbs). Fesenko was on the Chicago Bulls’ 2013 preseason rotation before he was waived on October 18.
A short breakdown of the Pacers' new additions and what they bring to the table will help analyze their bench strength further.