Wow... what a sports weekend, huh? The second week of college football, the commencement of the NFL season, pennant races heating up in MLB, and Reggie Miller and Mel Daniels' enshrinement into the Hall of Fame. We're getting dangerously close to that annual sports-time haven when all major sports are up and running simultaneously. You've gotta love the Fall.
Speaking of Reggie, what a night for him on September 7th. The Blue and Gold's most favored son proved that mouth of his wasn't just meant for the spiteful ears of John Starks, Spike Lee and the like. He absolutely killed it during his speech and, honestly, it made me miss him even more than I already did. Risks be damned, I'm starting to think I wouldn't mind him getting a front-office job, simply so I can enjoy his presence in Indiana again.
Luckily for Pacer fans, they don't have dwell on the old for long as training camp for 2012-2013 is less than a month away. And maybe you've heard, Indy's got something good going again at Banker's Life Fieldhouse. While the starting lineup is all set to go, the Pacers really changed things up on the bench, which begs the question: Which newcomer is set to make the most heady impact?
They come in all shapes and sizes and, of course, varying degress of cash-in-the-wallet impact. Their names: Blake Ahearn, D.J. Augustin, Sundiata Gaines, Gerald Green, Orlando Johnson, Ian Mahinmi, Miles Plumlee, Sam Young...
D.J. Augustin - I wrote a recent article trying to understand what role Augustin will play in Pacerland. He's spent the majority of his career as a starter, demonstrating glimpses of effective play. But any objective viewer would have to concede the mediocre moments have been far more frequent the spectacular. One thing you can't take away from Augustin is his ability as a passer. He's got a knack for finding the open man, even on historically bad rosters. He's likely a season-long backup for Indiana, but with George Hill's ability to play the two-guard, Augustin will probably find more floor time than his benchmates. Impact rating: ↑↑
Gerald Green - Next to Lance Stephenson, Green just might be the biggest enigma on the team. Is he the talent juggernaut with Andray Blatche-like basketball IQ? Or, is he the humbled Euroball outcast who revived his career with an inept New Jersey Nets' squad? Pacer fans are going to find out the answer quickly as Green is pegged as the first wing off the bench. Green demonstrated his familiar electrifying athleticism with the Nets, but he also showcased an improved outside shot. With a decent amount of playing time available, and with the Pacers surely looking to get a positive return on their generous investment (3 years, 10 million), I see Green's impact being a positive one. Impact rating: ↑
Orlando Johnson - One thing we know about Mr. Johnson from his summer league play. Makes and/or misses be damned, he will shoot... and shoot... and shoot... and shoot some more. He's definitely not shy with the basketball in his hands. That's surely a byproduct of his standing at small school UC Santa Barbara. Johnson won't be getting such a greenlight on a big boy NBA roster, which puts into question just how well he'll fit in being an accessory versus the main event. I see little playing time in his rookie future. Impact rating: ↓
Ian Mahinmi - The Pacers gave up a decent trade chip (Darren Collison) and a dependable vet (Dahntay Jones) for the right to sign Mahimni for four years 16 mil. A little steep for a career backup big man who they could've just signed outright with their available cap space, no? The prompter behind such a move had to have been the porous showing from Lou and Hans during the Pacers' playoff run. They need big men with size and athleticism to protect that wide-open paint. Enter Mahimni whose youth and advanced stats show a player with some decent potential. Let's just hope he's more Antonio Davis than Johan Petro. Impact Rating: Neutral.
Miles Plumlee - Plumlee's really got the shock and awe philosophy down. He shocked the NBA scouting world with a 41-inch vertical at the draft combine. He shocked NBA teams, fans, analysts, you name it, when his name was called in the first round of the draft. He shocked summer league viewers everywhere with a hair arrangement straight out of post WWII era. The shock campaign continued when he received All Summer League First-Team Honors in Orlando. His next shock victim? That's likely to be Tyler Hansbrough, whose one-dimensional and inefficient style of play is just begging to be replaced. Impact Rating: ↑
Blake Ahearn, Sundiata Gaines, Sam Young - Not sure if any of these guys have a realistic shot at making the team let alone making an impact. Ahearn's a lights out shooter and Sam Young played a bit role during Memphis' 2010-2011 playoff run. Either one of those players might not be a bad 14th or 15th option. Gaines? Eh... Impact Rating: ↓↓
Who's your favorite newcomer?