Before the regular season officially tips off on Tuesday, Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose have been teaming up over at Grantland and ESPN to preview, as well as, countdown all 30 NBA teams. Coming in at #4, the duo has finally turned their attention to the Indiana Pacers.
For those unfamiliar with the program, "Bill and Jalen’s 2013 NBA Preview" is unlike most studio shows. Rather than formally discussing the ins and outs of each squad at a desk in Bristol, the previews come off as just two friends hanging out and casually talking sports. Each show is broken down into a variety of fairly amusing segments including a roster update, a look at the depth chart, a thoughtful question submitted by Grantland’s Zach Lowe, a statistical examination of a Kirk Goldsberry Graphic, Clairvoyant Bill, Champaigning and Campaigning, and Miami’s Vice.
At the end of Bill and Jalen’s breakdown of the Los Angeles Clippers (#5), Simmons promised a "special extravaganza" for the #4 ranked team – the Indiana Pacers. Trying not to disappoint, the Pacers preview is full of Reggie Miller highlights, Larry Legend marquee moments, and, randomly, a short clip from a video featuring a day in the life of Roy Hibbert. Here is how some of the segments went down:
We know what they did last summer: This is the segment of the show where Jalen and Bill recap each team’s offseason moves. In this segment, both hosts noted that Larry Bird’s return is the difference maker for the Indiana Pacers. They lauded Bird’s shrewd offseason moves, while poking fun at the fact that all of the bench players from last season are now employed by new teams (most of which were not brought to Indiana by the Legend). Jalen voiced some concern over the additions of Scola and Copeland. Will they be able to play up to the defensive level that the Pacers demand on a nightly basis?
Rotation: In this portion of the preview, the pair took a cursory look at the Pacers depth chart. Simmons posed the question of whether or not Paul George would take yet another leap this season to superstardom. In response, Jalen said that he does not believe anyone in the league has made the jump to future superstars faster than Paul George and Stephen Curry. When asked if he would rather have Paul George or Carmelo Anthony on his team this season, Jalen decisively chose the Pacers young star. Bill Simmons projected that George could be the third best forward in the league this year.
Zach Lowe’s Question: In this segment, the duo answers a question submitted by Grantland contributor, Zach Lowe. His question for the Pacers… Was that the real Roy Hibbert? In response, Bill and Jalen both concluded that the Hibbert of the playoffs that was a defensive stopper and frustrated LeBron James was, in fact, the real deal. Rose noted that Dwight Howard is the best center in the NBA, Brook Lopez is the best offensive center in the league, but Roy Hibbert is the best defender at his position. (Here, the pair watched a clip of Roy Hibbert giving a tour of his house and unabashedly mocked him for having a painting of himself on his mantle.)
Clairvoyant Bill: Here is where the show got interesting. During this portion of the preview, Simmons, figuratively speaking, looks into his crystal ball and foretells some part of each team’s future (or makes a really bold prediction, emphasis on the really). In past previews, the two have predicted that Luol Deng could be traded to Milwaukee, this could be Mike Woodson’s last season with the Knicks, the Memphis Grizzlies may have missed their window, or Rajon Rondo may have only 20 games left as Celtic, etc.
So what did the pair see in the Pacers future? Rather boldly, Clairvoyant Bill announced that the Pacers cannot make the NBA Finals without making a trade. Both also predicted that Larry Bird will realize this and, in turn, flip Danny Granger’s contract before the deadline. Simmons even went so far as to say that flipping Granger’s expiring contract is the single most important trade anyone in the top 8 can make this year. Jalen agreed with Bill’s prediction (of course, this comes off Rose’s recent assertion that Danny Granger is done playing at an all-star level – an observation he made while traveling with the team during the Global Games), and later added that the Pacers need another creator on the perimeter – someone who can get his own shot, create space for George to operate, and readily dish drop passes to Hibbert and West in the paint.
The cohosts did not make any mention of exactly who they thought Bird should pursue at the deadline. However, it should be noted that during the Clippers preview (Clairvoyant Bill segment), Bill predicted that Jamal Crawford would not be on the Clippers’ roster in February. In response, Jalen noted that Crawford is someone Indy should pursue after the All-Star break.
Goldsberry’s Graphic: Here Bill and Jalen examined a graphic of Paul George’s shot chart developed by Grantland contributor, Kirk Goldsberry. Although George does not have as many hot spot zones on the court, as say, Kevin Durant, Jalen praised the young star for having both back to the basket and face-up moves in his offensive arsenal. At only 23, Rose says the sky is the limit for Paul George.
Champaigning and Campaigning: In this segment, Jalen reminisces about some of his favorite hot spots he used to enjoy visiting as an NBA player. For Indianapolis, Jalen selected, Geist Reservoir (now the new home of Paul George). Rose also uttered the famous saying, "In 49 states it is just basketball, but this is Indiana," in order to note that seemingly every home in Indiana has a basketball hoop. In response, Bill said that he has previously advocated the basketball Hall of Fame being moved to Indiana.
Miami’s Vice: In this, the final segment of the show, the pair discuss what exactly each team possesses that is a vice to the Miami Heat, or essentially, what hope does the team have of dethroning the Heat as the reigning champs. Here, they noted the Pacers size and rim protection (Roy Hibbert). Both also agreed that there is no one in the league they would rather have guarding LeBron James in a seven game series than Paul George. (Off topic, Jalen noted that during Lance Stephenson's contract year he should prioritize looking to model his game after Tony Allen). Finally, they listed Frank Vogel as a real asset for the Pacers in the playoffs, noting that he is one of the five best coaches in the NBA.
There it is, the synopsis of Bill and Jalen’s preview of the Pacers. What do you think Pacers’ fans? Is Danny potentially done playing at an All-Star level? Does his contract need to be moved at the deadline? Should they target Jamal Crawford? Will Larry Bird be the difference maker for the Pacers? Will Scola’s lack of athleticism and defensive prowess be a problem for the bench? Is Paul George the 3rd best forward in the NBA? You decide.
Check out other previews: Bill and Jalen's NBA Previews
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