[From the FanPosts, Sparhawk lays out his keys to another exciting season for the Pacers. -TL]
I do think the Pacers can repeat last year's success of playing their way to the 3rd best record in the east...possibly as high as the 2nd.
Here are my keys to a successful season (no particular order):
1. PG’s growth on the offensive and defensive end. He can be a very good all round player. Really needs to step up this season. He can get steals, but he still loses his man constantly and really struggles with picks/screens. PG needs to prove he can be a starting shooting guard. To do that he needs to be aggressive and score.
2. Lance becoming the player we all know he can be. If he can cut down the turnovers and knock down mid range shots while dishing out sick passes, then he’s gonna be the backup sg for years to come. Would love to see him subbed as a point against other teams that have slower points. Also, needs to show that he’ll play hard at the defensive end too. We all saw how he played in Summer League. If he wants a larger role, he has to play both ends.
3. Hibbs needs to show he’s earned $14M. No more Mr. Inconsistency. Has to bring it every night.
4. West playing like he did toward the end of the season and into the playoffs.
5. Granger finding and keeping his shot. This guy can’t hover around 40% if he’s going to be our leading scorer.
6. Hill needs to prove that the Pacers chose right. They gave up a first rounder (a controllable player), and traded away DC. Dude averaged 15 and 5 as a starter. I’d like to see him continue to put up those type of numbers while playing strong D. If Hill and PG play up to their potential on defense, they could be the best defensive back-court in the league.
7. How guys need to mesh with the team. Would love to hear that the new guys are working out/playing with the current guys to build some rapport.
8. Green needs to continue to play like he did with the Nets. Backup SF shooting 39% from 3 while shooting close to 50% overall, yes, please! Dude was out of the league not to long ago. Needs to keep that fire burning and show that he can actually get better.
9. Ian is already better than Lou. Like the signing. $4M for a backup C is pretty cheap. Just want this guy to rebound and play good defense.
10. I have no love for Hans, but if he plays more like 2011, then all the better! (Secretly hope that Plumlee works his way to playing backup PF and Hans is traded for a pick before the trade deadline).
11. Augustin needs to show that once he’s not the main attraction, letting his game come to him will allow him to play much better. Also, actually getting a pass to our bigs would be a welcome sight.
12. Vogel. Vogel is key. This is his first season to put his personal style on the offense and defense. Love that he preaches defense, but I want to see a more fluid offense. Guys just stand around. Less ISO, more movement.
13. And dear God, can the Pacers bring someone in to show the players how to defend pick n rolls/screens, and how to effectively execute them??
Granted not everything will happen. But if this Pacers team plays like they did last season while having a bench that can actually score, they very well could have the 2nd best record in the east. I definitely think this is very possible.
Since I know not everything on my list will happen, I still think the Pacers will finish between the 2nd best record and 4th best record in the East. Other teams did improve, but the Pacers just needed to improve that bench while getting bigger in the post, and they totally did.
I would still like the Pacers to bring in one more veteran for the bench.
-Tracy McGrady is tops on my list. He'd be a solid fall back in case Lance gets off to a slow start. McGrady would provide veteran leadership and could help teach PG and Lance how to be better SGs.
-Kenyon Martin is #2 on my list. Again, another solid veteran to have on the bench and in case Hans continues to struggle, he'd be a great guy to have come in and cause some havoc. At this point in his career, I doubt his baggage will be much of an issue.
-Andray Blatche is my wild card. I know the Pacers won't bring him in, but here's why they should. Just like Gerald Green, sometimes you don't know what you have until it's gone. He's on the verge of never being a factor in the NBA. Pacers have a solid group of guys that can really knock some sense into him, and let's not forget that the Pacers have Clark Kellogg, who has done wonders with Lance. Just loads of talent in this guy, and the Pacers have the right players/personnel to help him to play the right way. Plus, it'd keep him off the Spurs/Heat who are rumored to be looking at him.