Pacers Roster Changes Put Strong Culture To Test

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 08: George Hill #3 of the Indiana Pacers celebrate with Darren Collison #2 after Collison's late three point basket while playing the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2012 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. 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 Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

We're only human after all.

Put together any collection of humans with a common goal and the risks to reaching that goal rest with the flaws among that assembled group. As the Indiana Pacers have learned over the past several years, the chemistry among the group and the culture within the organization supporting that group can go a long ways to overcoming some of those flaws.

In fact, with last season's strike-shortened schedule applying different types of pressure, the suddenly strong culture at the Fieldhouse masked any flaws among the individual talent to produce a collective effort that not only worked, but exceeded expectations.

But as the Pacers prepare for the 2012-13 season, they've put that strong culture at risk but swapping out a few key players whose presence on and off the court made a strong impact on the team's chemistry last year. Darren Collison started the bulk of the season at point guard and then willingly spilled his guts coming off the bench in the playoffs. Dahntay Jones, always a strong voice in the locker room, remained a vocal leader even as his minutes in the rotation diminished with the arrival of Leandro Barbosa.

Barbosa and Lou Amundson simply did everything asked of them, always erring on the side of effort. Sporadic minutes among the group were never more important than the final scores. Winning made it all work out well.

So why mess with what worked last season?

Simply because that was last season. Strong teams must evolve, so the Pacers willingly risked the chemistry they tapped into last year by bringing in D.J. Agustin, Ian Mahinmi and Gerald Green, along with rookies Miles Plumlee and Orlando Johnson. But just as there are no guarantees that the new players will mix well with the established players on the roster, there was no guarantee that everyone would return from last season for another run without problems creeping in.

Let's face it, Darren Collison was a starting point guard before a late-season injury and he still considers himself a starting point guard. Finishing up the last few weeks of the season in a support role off the bench is one thing, but going through another full season in that role in a contract year would've been dicey at best.

So while the Pacers can't be sure the players they've added will fit well in the culture they've nurtured, the strength of that culture should allow the organization to have a greater impact on the individuals as opposed to those individuals tearing down the culture and stunting the growth of the collective team.

In Augustin, Green and Mahinmi especially, the Pacers have added three different types of players with vastly different NBA experiences. Each will be key to a successful season, which should be interesting to track as the season unfolds.

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