It ain't gonna happen. Not after George Hill's explosion on to the Pacers' scene as a starting PG. Forget the fact that Hill's impressive 8-2 season-ending run came against opponents with a combined .456 winning percentage (take the Bulls out of the equation and that percentage drops to .406). Forget the fact that Hill and the rest of the Pacers' offense dropped off a collective cliff after game three in the Miami series. No, no, details aside, GH3's starting PG run gave the Pacers a lot of Ws, and, in turn, gave Hill a lot of cash. So I don't anticipate D.J. Augustin has even a remote chance to start alongside max-man Hibbert & Co. come October.
But is there an argument out there for Augustin to get a starting look?
Two Reasons for D.J. Augustin being a Pacers' starter
1. The Spread-It-Out Philosophy - It's truly an amazing stat when you consider the context: D.J. Augustin averaged 6.4 APG with Gerald Henderson, Corey Maggette, and rookie Kemba Walker as his top offensive threats. Oh...and Maggette missed more than half the season with one of his annual injuries. Augustin is a splendid passer who thrives on creating opportunities for his teammates. As more and more Granger/George offensive isos go awry, I crave more and more a distributing PG capable of putting those players in better scoring spots. Collison and Hill are both low-risk, low-reward passers with average-to-mediocre vision. Augustin is a clear passing upgrade who just may flirt with double-digit assists given two legitimate spot-up shooters (Granger, George), a perfectly capable pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop option (David West), and an improving low-post threat (Hibbert).
2. Balance - Let's be honest, after GH3's permanent promotion to the starting lineup, the bench's effectiveness gradually but assuredly deteriorated. Not even Leandro Barbosa's best chucking-and-jiving efforts could save once proud goon-squad efforts. The bench needed additional scoring threats, but didn't have the personnel to offer. George Hill certainly had his moments as a starter, but the larger sample size shows a player best suited to be a sparkplug scorer/combo guard off the bench who guards multiple positions. Also consider Hansbrough's 2012 struggles and Gerald Green's/Lance Stephenson's still-have-something to prove status, and it becomes even more relevant that Indy has a reliable marksman on the bench. Can you say George Hill?
Two Reasons Against D.J. Augustin being a Pacers' Starter
1. Continuity - Take a look at the NBA's top-eight teams from last season's playoffs: Chicago, Miami, Indiana, Boston, San Antonio, OKC, L.A. Lakers, and Memphis. All of them--sans injuries and trades--returned three or more starters from their team the previous season. Continuity is a staple of success in NBA lore. Wade and LeBron couldn't do it year one, but give them more time together with some familiar pieces (Chalmers, Bosh, Anthony, Haslam, etc.) and continuity kills. An Augustin addition to the starting lineup would mean the rest of the starters would have to learn yet again the tendencies/nuances of another PG. That takes time.
2. Shooting Kills - Even when Augustin had playoff-level talent, he was still a mediocre shooter. Shooting and penetrating/finishing have never been his strong suits, which means Augustin is at risk of being simply a one-trick, passing pony. Add in his sometimes abysmal defensive production and it gets more and more difficult to justify Augustin's starting prospects.
Simply put: Do the potential positives outweigh the potential negatives? Augustin's distributing style could really enhance an oftentimes stagnant Pacers' offense courtesy of the starters, just like Hill's score-first style could really enhance oftentimes paltry scoring production from the bench. Augustin's defense is a clear downgrade from Hill, but the Pacers' were winning games with Collison's shoddy defensive defensive efforts before, which speaks highly of Indy's overall team-defense approach. Hill is clearly the more talented overall player with an upgraded salary to boot, but sometimes fit outweighs talent. Is Augustin the better fit as a starter?