Is 33-year-old veteran Luis Scola what the Indiana Pacers needed to win their first NBA title?
An intriguing question, to say the least.
Scola and Pacers president Larry Bird are actually fond of each other, so from a front-office perspective, this is a match made in heaven.
Bird believes Scola's experience makes him a valuable asset and a nice fit for Indiana, per Scott Agness of Pacers.com.
Luis will be a very important asset to our team and to our bench. He has NBA experience, international experience and is the type of player that will fit nicely in our roster.
If Scola exceeds all expectations, the Heat better watch out.
Analyzing What Went Wrong in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals
It was just plain obvious Indiana's bench was thin and weak.
In last season's Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat's bench outscored the Pacers' relievers by almost twice as much, 156-80.
Tyler Hansbrough and D.J. Augustin were the only shock troopers who were capable of producing when called upon. Sam Young and Ian Mahinmi had their brief moments of glory against the Heat, but for the most part, the bench just came up short.
Simply put, Indiana relied too much on its starters, limiting its options on offense. In spite of that, the team still did a credible job in terms of defense and rebounding, its main strengths.
However, a weak bench coupled with Miami having more playoff experience and the league's MVP, LeBron James, was just too much for the Pacers in the end.
What Luis Scola Brings to the Table
Scola is projected to come off the Pacers bench, strengthening a major Achilles' heel.
He has averaged 14.2 points on .504 shooting, 7.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists during his six-year NBA career. Scola's lowest average scoring output came with his rookie year in 2007-08 when he averaged 10.3 points.
This tells Pacers fans he'll help Indiana's woeful offense (they finished just 23rd in offense in 2012-13).
Scola runs the floor well and has a penchant for being at the right place at the right time. He is a smooth low-post operator who can knock down jumpers from 20 feet and in—things which Tyler Hansbrough wasn't known for.
Pacers head coach Frank Vogel pretty much sums up Scola's game, per Mark Montieth of the Pacers' official website.
He's one of the savviest offensive players that this game has ever seen at the power forward position. He's got all the fakes, great deception, great passing, the ability to stretch the floor with his shooting, he's very active on the glass. He's a winning player. And he's a proven winner. He's just a complete basketball player who will contribute to this team winning at a high level.
To top it all off, NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper tagged Scola as a "positive locker-room influence."
All in all, Scola is a savvy veteran, a positive influence and a scoring threat off the bench—intangibles the Indiana Pacers need to dethrone the Miami Heat.
Some Noteworthy Issues About Scola
Obviously, one issue with Scola is his age. He is already 33 years old.
Judging from the highlights in the above video against the Utah Jazz in which he nails jumper after jumper, Scola can still play at a high level. This is something the Pacers need from him night in and night out.
And then there is his defense.
Scola is a below-average defender. He is not the enforcer type of power forward-center whom you can expect to block shots and be physical in the paint. Finesse is what defines his game.
The good news is the Pacers can compensate for Scola's defense whenever David West or Roy Hibbert is on the floor with him. They can simply play off each other's strengths with Scola helping out on offense while West or Hibbert contribute defensively.
Finally, there is Scola's new role of coming off the bench. According to Montieth, Scola has started 410 of the 468 NBA games he's played in.
Scola himself says this shouldn't be an issue, per Montieth.
I'm very happy to be doing an important role on a good team, regardless of whether it's starting or off the bench. I'm going to work very, very hard to be one of those players who makes a difference from the bench.
The Pacers addressed their glaring need for more bench scoring with Scola's acquisition. But it's really not just about him.
Is Luis Scola what the Pacers need to get past the Heat in the East?
With him joining forces with C.J. Watson and Chris Copeland, don't expect the deficit in bench scoring against the Miami Heat in the playoffs to be as big as it was last season. In fact, don't be surprised if the Pacers now stand toe-to-toe with the Heat in that department.
In terms of offense, Scola is really an upgrade over Tyler Hansbrough. Even though Scola's scoring and field-goal percentage have dipped over the last three seasons, he should still do a good job in relieving David West and, on occasion, Roy Hibbert.
With Scola around for the next two seasons, the Indiana Pacers should make serious runs at an NBA title. This is a team that thrives on defense and rebounding. Scola's veteran presence should help Indiana fix its issues on offense once and for all.
As a parting shot, yes, Luis Scola is the final piece in the Pacers' quest to get past the Heat in the Eastern Conference.