2008-09 NBA Draft Kit: Indiana Pacers Team Preview
And yet more of the 2008-09 RotoRob NBA Draft Kit is released as Jordan checks in with his thoughts on the Pacers.
Playing in a division that includes the Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls, the Indiana Pacers can get lost in the shuffle at times in the Central. However, a busy offseason of change has brought a sense of optimism and hope to a team that struggled to a 36-46 season last year.
The Pacers were looking to change the culture of their team and were successful by trading the huge contract of Jermaine O’Neal to the Toronto Raptors, giving away Shawne Williams to the Dallas Mavericks and basically dumping Jamaal Tinsley. The trade of O’Neal brought T.J. Ford and Rasho Nesterovic to the Pacers from Toronto and the Pacers also brought in Jarrett Jack to help run the point. In addition, the Pacers got rid of Kareem Rush, Flip Murray and Ike Diogu.
Ford, Mike Dunleavy and Danny Granger lead the “new” Pacers. With the breakouts of Granger and Dunleavy last year, the Pacers are poised to make an impact in a potentially loaded Central Division.
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: T.J. Ford
SG: Mike Dunleavy
SF: Danny Granger
PF: Troy Murphy
C: Rasho Nesterovic
Key Bench Players: Jarrett Jack, Travis Diener, Marquis Daniels, Jeff Foster, Brandon Rush, Roy Hibbert.
The new-look Pacers have had a very peaceful training camp with little distraction off the court — a novely considering the events of recent years. The only real position battle at this point is at the power forward/centre positions where the Pacers will utilize a three-man rotation of Murphy, Nesterovic and Foster.
Stud: Only four players in the NBA averaged 18 points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block per game in 2007-08 – LeBron James, Rudy Gay, Kevin Garnett and the Pacers’ Granger. In his third year in the league, Granger broke out and became a fantasy stud. Look for him to continue to mature and to post great multi-category lines as the ball will go through him even more this year.
Dud: The Pacers cleaned house and dealt away most of their duds. I would be leary of Ford only because he has had trouble staying healthy. When healthy, he can easily average 8+ assists, but he doesn’t shoot many threes and his field goal percentage has steadily declined.
Sleeper: The absence of O’Neal should free up minutes and opportunities for Murphy. He will start at power forward and even play minutes at centre. Murphy is a solid double-double guy every night and his centre eligibility makes him a strong sleeper for the 2008-09 season.
Rookies to Watch: The Pacers drafted Roy Hibbert and acquired the draft rights of Kansas swingman Brandon Rush, the 13th pick in the draft, in a package deal that sent Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless to Portland. Rush should make an immediate impact for the Pacers as he will likely see consistent minutes at the shooting guard spot.
Fantasy Stories to Watch
Can Ford stay healthy and put behind him the neck injury that cost him over 30 games last season?
Can Granger ascend to the next level as a fantasy stud?
Dunleavy’s injured knee is causing some concern, but all indications are that he should be ready for the start of the regular season.