What exactly do the Indiana Pacers need from Chris Copeland?
There are several voids the much-heralded 29-year-old can fill. His three-point shooting and offensive spark are just some of the things which he brings to the Pacers' table.
An in-depth look at some of the intangibles Indiana needs from him ought to give us an idea of how his game will measure up in 2013-14.
Improve Bench Scoring and Overall Offense
Obviously, the Indiana Pacers were in dire need of a scoring punch off the bench prior to Copeland's acquisition.
The Pacers offense also didn't impress anyone, as it wound up just 23rd overall in 2012-13 with 94.7 points per contest. Case in point? Their Game 7 loss to the Miami Heat in which they scored just 76 points and saw All-Star Paul George's scoring tallying just seven markers.
Clearly, if one of Indiana's starters has an off night, Copeland can help pick up the slack at small forward or power forward with his 20.3 points per 36 minutes of play.
Hard to imagine someone like Tyler Hansbrough or Gerald Green stepping up like this on a consistent basis.
However, if there's somebody who's up to this task, it's Copeland, whom Pacers head coach Frank Vogel says "gives us great versatility off our bench."
Provide Perimeter And Post Scoring
Doesn't Copeland's perimeter shooting remind you of Sam Perkins'?
Perkins was more of a power forward-center as opposed to Copeland being able to play both forward spots. The latter's arrival gives the Pacers the luxury of having a stretch 4 who can help draw opposing power forwards from the paint, thus neutralizing their effectiveness on the boards.
Another advantage of having him on your team is stated by Pacers.com's Mark Montieth, who says Copeland "is primarily a three-point shooter, but has enough of a post game to take smaller defenders into the lane."
Expect Copeland to exploit mismatches on offense, particularly when there is a switch down low. Pounding the ball in the post against someone like a Dwyane Wade or Derrick Rose ought to help put the other team's superstars in foul trouble—an absolute must in the postseason.
Regardless whether Copeland shoots from afar or gets into the paint, the Pacers are sure to benefit from his court awareness and floor spacing.
Copeland has a rare sense of court awareness and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. He is blessed with an inherent understanding of floor spacing and action without the ball.
Shore Up Mid-Range Game
There's no denying Copeland is capable of shooting from long range and wreaking havoc in the post.
However, if he is to really be a vital cog in the Pacers offense, he should also plug holes in his mid-range game.
Looking at his above shot chart from the 2012-13 regular season, it's pretty evident Copeland's weak areas are 10 to 15 feet from the basket, especially the right side of the court.
If he relies on his three-point shooting too much, he would become predictable—a sure-fire recipe for disaster.
Copeland having an improved mid-range game can throw opposing defenses off, and that should help translate to more wins for Indiana.
Improve Defense and Rebounding
As a second-year player, Copeland still has some areas which he needs to improve on.
More specifically, the Indiana Pacers need him to improve his defense and rebounding—their two main areas of strength.
Copeland is just a mediocre defender. The last thing Indiana wants is for him to be a defensive liability, especially if he gets to play for an extended period of time.
In terms of his rebounding, he isn't much better considering he snagged only 2.1 boards per contest in roughly 15 minutes of action every night last season.
Which is why Copeland says working out with Ben Wallace, a defensive and rebounding stud, during the offseason is actually a good idea:
We all know what type of guy Ben was. I think I can learn a lot from him on the defensive end. Just getting stronger and following a lot of his routines in the weight room, that's something I'm going to mimic throughout the summer and hopefully it will pay off next year.
The Final Say
If Copeland's first NBA season in 2012-13 is any indication, he should be able to make an emphatic statement for the Indiana Pacers.
What the team needs from him are the very reasons why he was acquired to begin with: To improve their bench production, perimeter frontcourt scoring and overall offense.
However, if Copeland is to prove that he is no fluke and that he really belongs in the NBA, he must improve on his mid-range game, defense and rebounding.
By becoming a more well-rounded player, Chris Copeland should be able to make a tremendous impact on both ends of the court not only this season but in the years to come as "The Future of Pacers Basketball."