I'm curious about which starting lineup most Pacer fans would prefer. I'm certain most of us have heard it quoted that the Pacers starting five last year had the best efficiency numbers in the league, but as I recall, the Pacers starting five the previous year were among the top 3 or 4 as well.
Personally, from a simple basketball perspective, both starting lineups would be very strong - assuming that all involved are and remain healthy and in-shape. I think that the major differences in performance expectations come when you consider the effects that the different starting lineups will have on the bench rotation.
Bench Unit 1 - (presumed lineup- CJ Watson/O. Johnson/D. Granger/L. Scola/I. Mahinmi) With Lance starting at the 2-guard, PG stays at his more natural position - SF. That moves Danny Granger to the bench unit, and makes him the primary wing scorer on that unit. A 2-man game with Scola and Granger could be pretty damned effective offensively with that unit. The problems come when you consider that this rotation would be fairly short on ball-handlers. I've read that CJ Watson is at his most efficient when he is on the floor with another primary ball handler - ala the Nets playing CJ and Deron Williams together a lot last year. With this unit, CJ pretty much has no ball handling help. OJ isn't that strong in this regard, and Danny is pretty much weak - his right hand ain't great, and his left hand is nonexistent. Offensively, this unit will rely on surrounding Danny and Scola with 2 capable shooters and a good cleanup man in Ian. Those who prefer this lineup will likely point to the fact that Danny is more suited to being a top offensive option at this point that Lance is, even if that means putting Danny on the bench. Defensively, you have three plus-defenders in Danny, Ian, and CJ paired with a minus-defender in Scola (too limited athletically, not a lack of effort by all accounts). I remember OJ being solid but unspectacular on the defensive end last year, so this should be a reasonably good group defensively.
Bench Unit 2 - (presumed lineup- CJ Watson/L. Stephenson/C. Copeland/L. Scola/I. Mahinmi) The presumed members of this unit are not quite as certain as those of group 1. Copeland could very easily be the odd man out of Solomon Hill or Pulp manage to play well enough to force Vogel to give them some burn. Or, alternatively, Vogel could plan to simply rotate 3 men through 2 positions, giving Lance, PG, and Danny nearly all of the combined wing minutes (basically, with PG playing 16 minutes each at SG and SF, with Danny taking 32 at SF and Lance taking 32 at SG). This would leave Copeland out unless Scola is bumped out of some minutes, or Ian is relegated to to use only against favorable match-ups. Neither of these scenarios seems likely given the defensive problems posed by a Copeland/Scola frontcourt and Scola's offensive game. Those who prefer this unit will likely point out that Lance can help share the ball handling/playmaking duties with CJ, and that Lance's frenetic up-and-down style might be more suited to a bench role than that of a starter. Defensively, this unit will likely have more problems, as Lance's defense, while very good at times last year, did not stay consistent. He was a plus defender last year, but I am not certain that we would get the same defensive effort out of him if he was surrounded by bench players. Copeland is not well suited guarding the 3, and Scola's defensive limitations have not changed.
Personally, I prefer, Bench Unit 1, which is why I think Lance should start. Additional considerations include the continued development of both Lance and OJ, making the best use of Danny's shoot-first style of offense, and causing the least amount of disruption of Danny again gets hurt. Anyway, What do you guys think?