Thursday, September 5, 2013

2013 Offseason winners: Indiana Pacers

Versatile forward Luis Scola joins the Pacers frontcourt

2012-2013 record: 49-32

The pesky Indiana Pacers pushed LeBron James and the eventual NBA Champion Miami Heat to the brink in the Eastern Conference Finals, and their offseason wheeling and dealing suggest that they aim to take the East next season.

The starting lineup of former Spurs guard George Hill, postseason standout Lancelot Stephenson, Most Improved Player/All-Star Paul George (re-signed for $90 million-plus), forward David West (re-signed), and Tim Duncan sparring partner Roy Hibbert remains intact for 2013-2014. Center Ian Mahinmi, guard Orlando Johnson and swingman Danny Granger, a former Most Improved Player/All-Star 18.1 PPG swingman who played just five games last season, also remain on the roster.

X-factor players Gerald Green (7.0 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 18.0 MPG) and Tyler Hansbrough (7.0 PPG and 4.6 RPG in 16.9 MPG) were lost to the Suns and Raptors, respectively, but they were more than adequately replaced by Knicks standout Chris Copeland and two-time Spanish League MVP Luis Scola. Just two seasons ago, Scola averaged 18.3 PPG and 8.2 RPG for the Houston Rockets.

Point guard C.J. Watson averaged 6.8 PPG and 2.0 APG in 80 games for the Nets last season. Guard Donald Sloan and forward Solomon Hill (the No. 23 pick in the NBA Draft) further bolster the bench.

2013-2014 prediction:

Coach Frank Vogel has installed a proven system of defense, rebounding and selflessness. His core guys returns for another run, Danny Granger should be healthy and ready to return to form, and Luis Scola is a wonderful bench weapon to an already-potent Indiana Pacers squad. These Pacers could very well win the NBA Title.

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