Key Storylines for the Indiana Pacers' Summer League Team
The Indiana Pacers have a chance to solidify their regular-season lineup by way of the NBA Summer League.
The Pacers are one of 10 teams (the others are the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz) participating in the 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League, which runs from July 7-12.
Here, each team will play five games with a Championship Day on the sixth day of competition. This is also a great opportunity for familiar names such as Christian Watford, Rasual Butler, Solomon Hill, Ben Hansbrough and Miles Plumlee to strut their wares on the court.
As of July 8, the Pacers are 1-1 in the standings. Assistant coach Dan Burke is calling the shots for Indiana's summer league team.
A positional analysis should give Pacers fans an idea of who among the aspirants are making the biggest noise thus far.
Analyzing the Guards
Orlando Johnson showed occasional flashes of brilliance in 2012-13. He has a deft and feathery shooting touch as well as a decent work ethic.
He continues to show what he's capable of as he led the Pacers in scoring with 17 in their 76-68 Game 1 loss to the Thunder.
Shooting guard Micah Downs, who has been seasoned by overseas play and the NBA D-League, could be a sleeper if his 4-of-5 shooting from three-point distance against the 76ers is any indication.
Backup point guard Donald Sloan, who agreed to a multi-year contract with Indiana on July 3, has decent ball-handling skills, although he did "pound it on the floor a bit too much" and turned the ball over several times in the first game, per Pacers.com writer Scott Agness.
A Look at the Forwards
Rookie Solomon Hill is making a good first impression on the Pacers' management.
Hill carved up the Philadelphia 76ers defense for 22 points in the second game of the Orlando Pro Summer League. After scoring just nine points in the first game, he displayed an all-around game punctuated by nine rebounds and four assists. He also showed a decent stroke from mid-range.
His versatility should also make him a valuable asset at the shooting guard spot once he cracks the Pacers' regular-season roster.
Apparently, an anonymous NBA scout, whom Agness mentioned in his column, came away impressed with the rookie, saying, "Solomon's going to get some minutes next year. Not two years down the road. Next year."
Two other forwards who are vying for roster spots on the Pacers include former Indiana Hoosiers standout Christian Watford and 11-year veteran Rasual Butler.
Watford actually received praise from general manager Kevin Pritchard during camp prior to the Orlando Pro Summer League. However, he hasn't stood out the quite the way Hill has once summer league play commenced. Watford will play one more game with Indiana in Orlando before heading out to Las Vegas to try out for the Dallas Mavericks.
Butler, on the other hand, hasn't made much noise, although he openly said he likes what the Pacers stand for and that he should fit right in.
Checking Out the Centers
So far, the only center who has really made his presence felt is Miles Plumlee.
Plumlee chipped in with nine points, nine rebounds, six blocks and three assists against the Thunder. He brought his game to an even higher level against Philadelphia with 16 points and 15 rebounds (tying for the summer league high).
He showed some impressive flashes of athleticism with his cuts and forays to the basket, moreover an emphatic baseline reverse jam off of a feed from Hill in the first game.
Granted, it's only summer league play, but if Miles Plumlee plays like this during the regular season and playoffs, he should be able to back up Roy Hibbert quite nicely.
We are only two games into the Orlando Pro Summer League, so it's still relatively early to tell who among the aspirants have a legitimate shot at playing for the Indiana Pacers in the regular season.
What are Christian Watford's chances of making it to the Indiana Pacers lineup?
So far, Hill, Orlando Johnson and Miles Plumlee have stood out from the rest of the pack. The Pacers' need for another shooter (they shot just 37.4 percent from the three-point area, good for only 22nd overall) could be aptly filled by Downs, Watford or Butler.
Right now, Downs, by virtue of his shooting spree in the second game against the 76ers, should have the advantage.
The Pacers will take on the Boston Celtics next on Tuesday.
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