Finished 36-46, fourth in Central Division, ninth in Eastern Conference
Tyler Hansbrough via draft, Dahntay Jones via free agency, Earl Watson via free agency, Solomon Jones via free agency, A.J. Price via draft
Jarret Jack via free agency, Rasho Nesterovic via free agency
A team lost in mediocrity. A team looking for a voice. A team trying to become a contender once again.
After three years of missing the postseason and posting a losing record, the Indiana Pacers had a busy, productive offseason and are now trying to climb back up the Eastern Conference ladder they were once at the top of.
The Pacers come into the 2009-10 season after drafting two premiere stars from the college ranks and signing a few other lower name guards and forwards as well. Indiana has yet to sign an impact player though, which could affect it's success in the upcoming season and the next seasons after.
While this team does still have room to grow, it is led by its young fourth year forward Danny Granger. Granger had the best year of his blossoming career last season when he averaged 26 points and five rebounds. Granger showed he could come back from an injury as well. When he went down for 11 games a little before the season ended, he came back and averaged 29 points over the last 12 games of the season.
The Pacers are lucky to have a player like Granger on their side as he is a consistent shooter from all parts of the court and has range and a scoring ability only NBA superstars can wield. He shot 40 percent from three-point range and nearly averaged three per game last year. His touch has improved by the year and he could represent the future of the NBA.
Granger will have the load lightened off in the 2009-10 season when Mike Dunleavy returns from an injury that only let him play the first 18 games of the season.
Dunleavy has done an excellent job as a role player for the Pacers and averaged a career high 19 points in the 2007-08 season.
Tyler Hansbrough and AJ Price join the team via the draft and could have an immediate impact on the team due to the lack of depth the team has.
Critics claim that Hansbrough does not have the size or strength at his position to survive in the NBA world, but if he could bring that knack of scoring that got him into the draft into the NBA, then Tyler would shut his doubters up and prove that he is ready to play with the men.
Hansbrough won the ACC Conference Player of the Year award and averaged 20 points and eight rebounds last year. Tyler broke countless Tar Heel and NCAA records throughout his four years of college ball and is looking to make an impact on an Indiana team waiting for another all-star to bring the team out of mediocrity.
AJ Price was a standout as Connecticut's point guard and does have a solid shot and could create shots for other players as well. He could have problems though if he relies too heavily on outside shots, instead of attacking the rim which he needs to improve on as well. He averaged nearly three turnovers a game as well last year which could cause problems in the NBA if he does not learn to control his passes.
The Pacers could also see the emergence of their big man in Roy Hibbert.
Hibbert, at 7'2" is the third tallest player in the league and possibly could see an increase in minutes next season as the team is looking for size. He only averaged 14 minutes last year and only put up seven points, three rebounds and a block per game.
The current center is Jeff Foster who is considerably shorter than Hibbert, but has no offensive touch and his blocking ability isn't up to par with his size. After a disappointing 2008-09 season, Foster could be replaced with Hibbert sometime in the season.
TJ Ford will continue to be the team's point guard after having one of his best offensive years of his young career. Despite his offensive production, which was at 15 points per game last year, his assists went down considerably. He averaged a consistent six to seven assists per game his first five years in the league, but only averaged five last year.
The Pacers are a team looking for an answer and they might have that answer on their team. If Danny Granger evolves into the superstar he is aiming to be, this Pacers team could become the contender it once was and could have that voice again it lost four years ago.
Projected Starting Lineup
C—Roy Hibbert/Jeff Foster
This is part 11 of a 30-day series of 2009-10 season previews of each NBA team. My profile will contain every other team that has been previewed before.