The Indiana Pacers begin their preseason work on September 25th with Media Day which is suddenly just one month away. Check that, not suddenly, this quiet month of August has been dragging on like Shaq trying to fill the lane on a fastbreak. Regardless, the Pacers head into the season with five new faces and varying expectations.
If all goes well, they should compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. If not, they'll be considered an afterthought.
You can analyze the players and team as a whole from every possible angle and you'll still be left with a host of questions which can only be answered on the court and in some cases over a several-month period of time. So my questions to you are: What questions surrounding the 2009-10 Pacers do you want answered? Which answers are most critical to the Pacers short-term and/or long-term success?
Here are a few off the top of my head to get started:
- How many starting lineup variations will we see? Will Jim O'Brien let Roy Hibbert and Brandon Rush play through struggles more this year or keep them on a short leash?
- How many players will be in the normal playing rotation? Who will those players be? When Mike Dunleavy returns, if you consider Dun, Jeff Foster and Earl Watson as givens off the bench, then a nine player rotation has Tyler Hansbrough, Dahntay Jones, Solomon Jones and Josh McRoberts fighting for extra minutes.
- Will player health make the various battles for minutes moot? Danny Granger's knee, Mike Dunleavy's knee and hip, Jeff Foster's back, Tyler Hansbrough's shin and T.J. Ford's everything seem to put these guys in a perpetual day-to-day status. Will they all play more than 70 games? 75? That would be huge.
- How will the front court playing rotation work out? Will Foster's minutes give way to youth or as happens every year, will Foster end up starting?
- Can Danny Granger once again raise his level of play? Can he make an impact at the defensive end of the floor?
- Will T.J. Ford silence his critics or make them more boisterous?
- If a slow start has the team chasing .500 again, will any bridge players be moved? Will Jim O'Brien make it to the end of the season?
- What else?