Let us take a break from the off the court drama and the fantasy trades (we aren't getting Josh Smith people) and take a look at the actual product on the floor. Is the off season over? No, but there aren't even rumors at this point involving the Pacers so I think it is fair to at least look at the starting line up at this time. Better than arguing about Brandon Marley right?
After the jump: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
The Good- Small Forward
Likely Starter: Danny Granger
Other Options: Going small
- Last year: 24 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.5 spg, 1 bgp, 42.8% fg, 36% 3pt
Not much to say here. One of the best small forwards in the league (top 5 IMO) and our go to scorer and player. In Danny we trust. The other option will be discussed later. Last year was a down year for him as he had the worst shooting percentage in his career. However, I really believe his injuries were killing his jump shot and his team was well, really bad.
- What should we expect? 25 ppg, 7 rpg, 3 apg, 45% fg, 40% 3pt, more leadership and less pouting
I think expecting about the same scoring (22-25 ppg) with his percentage going back up to 45% ish and his 3 point shot returning to around 40% is more than fair. He seems healthy, has a point guard to play with, and has an improving Hibbert to play with. He is also around some of the better players in the world and at his position in Instanbul. His motivation should be high. With better players, I think his assists should go up slightly and I think it is very fair to expect an couple extra rebounds per game with Murphy being gone + more time playing the 4.
The Good- Point Guard
Likely Starter: Darren Collison
Other Options: None
- Last Year: 12 ppg, 5.7 apg, 2.5 rpg, 1 spg, 47.7% fg, 40% 3pt, 2.7 turnovers pg
It feels nice to call this "good." We finally have the young PG we have needed since Tinsley went stupid and injured on us. Are there still question marks with Collison? Of course as its only his second year in the league. But everything points to him being a top 15 point guard in the league, if not top 10, next year. His turnovers were high last year, but he was a rookie so it is to be expected. He started almost half of the year last year and that is when his numbers exploded as he wasn't a good back up. He did this on average with 28 mpg. His 36 mpg numbers actually put him at 16 and 7 with 3.5 turnovers.
- What should we expect: 15 ppg, 7 apg, 47% fg, 38% 3pt, 2.5 turnovers pg, leadership and swagger
Wait, why do those numbers look low? Why do I have his fg% numbers dropping? Shouldn't we be expecting at least 17 and 8? Honestly, I have the numbers a bit low for 2 reasons: JOB and starting all year. The NBA will get a chance to scout him better this year and JOB has never been kind to point guards. The fg% drop is easy: JOB will tell him to shoot threes and lots of them. It is hard to maintain a 40% 3pt% while shooting twice as many threes. His assists won't be huge because JOB's systems don't really promote movement and lots of assist opportunities. But really, would 15/7 be a dissapointment with the PG's we have had recently? Watson would dream of those numbers. Anyway, the leadership and swagger thing is huge. Collison was a floor general last year as a rookie and filling in for Chris Paul. I expect more of the same since this is "his" team to run. When is the last time we had a floor general at the 1? Mark Jackson?
The Good- Center
Likely Starter: Roy Hibbert
Other Options: None
- Last Year: 11.7 ppg, 5.7 rbg, 2 apg, 1.6 bpg, 49.5% fg, 3.5 fouls pg
Kudos to Larry Bird to solidifying two of the hardest positions in the league in PG and C. With Murphy gone, a capable point guard, and entering his 3rd year, there aren't any excuses for Hibbert (well, I guess JOB can be an excuse). This should be the year we no longer say "Hibbert has potential," this is the year we want to see what he has. Don't be dismayed by his fouls per game and rebounds. He only played 25 minutes per game. His fouls per 36 minutes actually went down drastically (-2.7) and his rebounds per 36 minutes is around 8. His fg% shot up his second year, as did his ft% and assists. This guy is improving and judging from his tweets, he is still trying to improve. His worth ethic cannot be questioned.
- What should we expect? 15 ppg, 10 rbg, 2 bpg, 3 apg, 52% fg%, more minutes and more touches
Expectations too high? Maybe, but being in his 3rd year, this is what I expect. Murphy isn't around to rebound the ball so he needs to pick up the slack. Murphy also isn't around to allow his man to blow by him and get Hibbert in early foul trouble. Speaking of that, being his third year in the league he should stop fouling so much and stop getting picked on by the refs. His fg% should improve some more + more minutes and more touches should lead to a rise in ppg. And actually, 15 ppg is below his 36 minute numbers his first 2 years. His assists should go up slightly with the increase minutes + playing more high post + the Bill Walton effect. It is time to expect double doubles from our 7'2 center.
The Bad- Shooting Guard
Likely Starter: Mike Dunleavy
Other Options: Paul George, D. Jones, Brandon Rush
- Last year: An average PER of 11.2
I will judge the position as the whole. It was basically a rotating door of "meh." Rush (i'll be nice) provided some defense and some 3pt shooting and nothing else. Dunleavy provided us with missed games and horrid play with the occasional shooting display. Jones provided some defense, dumb fouls, surprising offense (10 ppg), and time in the doghouse. Jones also has horrid +/- numbers throughout his career for whatever reason.
- What should be expect: ???????????????
Wouldn't it be nice if the 07-08 Dunleavy showed up? That year he was, well, good. Anyway, we can probably expect more of the same from Rush and Jones. We can hope Dunleavy returns to 07-08 form and we can at least hope he is useful unlike last year. We could start George, but I am not even sure if he has the ball handling skills the play the 2 right now. But, best case scenario, he is everything we think he is and he takes the starting spot from Dunleavy and gives us a one-two combo at the 2 and 3 we haven't had since Rose and Miller. Worst case scenario? Last year all over again at this position.
The Ugly- Power Forward
Likely Starter: Josh McRoberts
Other Options: Magnum Rolle, Tyler Hansbrough, Going small
- Last Year: Murphy started and he is gone.
Hmmm what to say about last year. Rolle was still in college. Tyler showed flashes that he can rebound and hustle like a mad man, but his shoot was, well, horrid and then he had dizzy problems the rest of the year. McRoberts showed some slight promise, only to be bashed by JOB for absolutely no reason. We don't have much to go on here.
- What should be expect this year? Lots of hustle and continuing dream trade scenarios in the fan posts
This position, at the moment, is a huge huge weak point and question mark. None of these players have shown they are starter quality yet but at this point someone is getting a chance. McRoberts, as Levy keeps pointing out, has good numbers if you go into advanced statistics and per minute stuff, but he didn't play much to judge and he wasn't playing against starting quality 4s. Tyler showed some promise in some areas and we can always hope his bad shooting percentage had to do with his vertigo issues. But, once again, we don't even know if he is over them yet.
The last thing to discuss really is going small and starting Granger at the 4. This puts our best player out of position and makes us really really small. He would have to go up against the likes of Duncan, Gasol, Stoudemire, Dirk, KG, Boozer, Bosh ect ect. Do you guys think this is even an option? We get more talent on the floor but could Granger even handle that all year? He doesn't seem enthused about playing the four (he said so himself) and I think he would break down.
Thoughts? How does this starting line up stack up against the rest of the East? Good enough to get us in the playoffs?