The Indiana Pacers have had one of their more eventful seasons in the past decade, as they reached the Eastern Conference Finals and fought the Miami Heat in a competitive seven-game series before falling short in Game 7.
With that remarkable playoff run behind them, the Pacers needed to fill in some holes on the team to prepare for an even better 2013-14.
With Larry Bird returning at the helm, the team was able to reconstruct their roster—specifically the bench—to hopefully reach an even higher level of success in the next few years.
In the 2012-13 regular season, the Pacers had the second-lowest scoring bench in the entire league (per Hoops Stats), trailing only the Portland Trail Blazers' bench. Furthermore, the Pacers' bench averaged a league-low 39.3 percent field goal percentage, which certainly had an impact on the team's offensive struggles at the beginning of the season.
The bulk of the Pacers' offseason negotiations were aimed toward improving the bench, so how well did they improve their team for next season?
With the 23rd pick in the NBA draft, the Pacers selected versatile forward Solomon Hill.
Right now, the Pacers don't really need to create more of a logjam at the forward positions; especially after they struck deals with Chris Copeland and Luis Scola later on. However, Hill has a great skill set and could potentially be a very promising player in the future.
Draft scout Adam Ganeles had a lot of good things to say about Hill (via NBADraft.net).
Strengths: Versatile combination forward possessing full complement of mismatch tools ... Takes smaller defenders into the post where he has good footwork and quickness ... Punishes less agile bigs with solid handle and craftiness off the bounce- isolation aptitude with variety of spin, cross-over and hesitation moves ... Decisive and aggressive (4.5 fta) finding his way into the paint consistently ... Efficient scorer (50% fg) both within and outside of team offensive structure (12.9 ppg) ... Thrives on contact and is deceptively powerful in compact frame ... Soft touch, uses glass and angles effectively ... Old school style ... Three-pointer has become respectable weapon in his arsenal (1.1 makes, 39%)
The Pacers looked like they were intending to draft the best player remaining in the draft. Hill is described as a player who comes with the total package. He was arguably the most complete player left in the draft and the Pacers made a great choice, especially if he lives up to his potential down the road.
David West was the Pacers' top priority heading into the offseason and they were able to quickly reach an agreement to a deal worth $36 million over three years (via Brian Windhorst of ESPN).
From a contractual standpoint, West's production and contributions to the team pretty much meet his contract value spot on.
After slowly working his way back from an ACL tear a few years ago, West didn't have a great 2011-12 campaign. His 12.8 PPG and 6.6 RPG were both the lowest averages in his last seven seasons at that point in his career (per Basketball Reference).
However, West responded mightily with a bounce-back 2012-13 season, which saw him put up averages of 17.1 PPG, 7.7 RPG and 2.9 APG with a PER of 20.1—the second-highest of his career. He's also a great leader and the longest-tenured player on the team last season, and his wisdom and experience is something that can't be taught. He is the perfect fit for this team.
C.J. Watson has been a perennial backup point guard in this league for god knows how long.
Now, Watson is in familiar territory and he knows his role by now.
Watson holds career averages of 7.6 PPG, 2.5 APG, 1.0 steals per game and a 42.2 percent field goal percentage in 20.3 minutes per game. Those numbers may not look fantastic, but when compared to D.J. Augustin's 4.7 PPG and 2.2 APG on 35 percent shooting from the field, Watson is a significant improvement.
Copeland was unknown prior to the start of last season, but he was able to make a name for himself as a member of the New York Knicks last year.
His play was good enough to net him a two-year deal worth approximately $6 million (via Jared Zwerling of ESPN).
At a first glance, a player that averaged 8.7 PPG and 2.1 RPG in just 56 career NBA games doesn't seem to be worth the contract at all. With Danny Granger making his way back from knee complications, Copeland probably won't get significant minutes in either of the backup wing positions.
But Copeland does provide versatility on the wings and showed that he has the ability to score in multiple ways. Per 36 minutes, he averages a respectable 20.3 PPG, shoots 46.8 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Luis Scola is the most recent addition to the Pacers and this trade let the world know that the team is ready to compete right now. Scola is a natural power forward and a quality backup, which is something that the Pacers haven't had in a long time.
They were probably getting tired of Green's inefficiency on the floor and weren't patient enough to develop Plumlee. However, a trade like this could potentially boost the Pacers to the next level while giving up loose change. For a team that is competing for a championship right now and in the next few years, Scola is a great addition.