NBA Free Agents: David West Addition Makes Pacers Real Contender in the East

Tim KeeneyContributor IDecember 11, 2011

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 22:  David West #30 and Marco Belinelli #8 of the New Orleans Hornets celebrate during the game against the San Antonio Spurs at the New Orleans Arena on January 22, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Hornets defeated the Spurs 96-72.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Remember last NBA playoffs when the Indiana Pacers played the Chicago Bulls shockingly close for the first three games of the series and everyone outside of Indianapolis was extremely surprised?

Well, that same thing is about to happen again this season. Except no one should be surprised.

David West reportedly signed a two-year, $20 million contract with the Pacers on Sunday, meaning last year's No. 8 seed just got a whole lot better. 

Just take a look at Indy's new core.

With the addition of George Hill on Draft Day, they now have both him and Darren Collison to play the point. 

Hill backed up Tony Parker in San Antonio, but he certainly has the scoring ability to play the two. That may be necessary, too, considering SG is by far Indiana's weakest position.

Still though, with news that O.J Mayo may be on the radar, even that might not be a weakness for much longer.

At small forward, there's some guy named Danny Granger who is pretty good. He failed (I guess) to live up to expectations last year, but that's because he set them so high in 2010.

With plenty of weapons around him—and the pressure finally off him—I fully expect Granger to get back to his 24-points-per-game ways. 

And now add in David West and Roy Hibbert down low? That's a good starting lineup. 

A rotation of Hill, Mayo, Granger, West and Hibbert with Collison and Tyler Hansbrough coming off the bench could easily compete for an Eastern Conference title. 

And before you say anything, I'm not from Indiana nor am I an Indiana fan. I just see what is turning into a very good, young team.

That's the key word right there, young. Even if you put West in last year's lineup, this might have been only the fifth or sixth best team in the East, but almost everyone is still improving.

The Pacers still probably don't quite have the depth necessary to keep up with Chicago or Miami, but I'm not afraid to call the Pacers the third best team in the East. 

Don't sleep on Indiana. I know I won't.