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2014-15 NBA GM Survey: Indiana Pacers Sparsely Mentioned

A journey from heavy favorite to "also receiving votes."

Joe Robbins

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Just a year ago, the results of the 2013-14 NBA GM Survey revealed a league taking notice of the Indiana Pacers. They were recognized as one of just five legitimate title contenders. They were favored to win the Central Division. Paul George was considered the league's third-best shooting guard. Roy Hibbert was mentioned as a top center and recognized for his skills as an elite interior defender. David West was pegged as one of the league's toughest players. The front office's trade for Luis Scola was named the most underrated player acquisition of the summer, and Frank Vogel was tapped as one of the coaches with the best defensive schemes.

Now, just one tumultuous end to a season and cataclysmic off-season later, the 2014-15 NBA GM survey unsurprisingly makes little mention of the once widely considered surefire contenders.

Though they allowed only 99.3 points per 100 possessions last season (good for first in the league), the Pacers are no longer considered the league's stingiest squad in the absence of Paul George and Lance Stephenson. When asked which is the NBA's best defensive team, the Chicago Bulls (85.7%) won the lion's share of the votes.  Without the benefit of Paul George's length and athleticism to lock-down the perimeter, the Pacers came in at No. 2 with 7.1% of the vote.

Speaking of Paul George, absence must make the heart grow forgetful rather than fonder. The only place his name appears on any of the polling results is beneath the category, "Who is the best perimeter defender in the NBA?" as "also receiving votes" behind LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Allen, Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala, Chris Paul, and Klay Thompson. Given that the Pacers star was named to the NBA's First All-Defensive Team, led all perimeter defenders in defensive win shares with 6.4, ranked fifth in the league in steals, and was the only player in the NBA to tally at least 20 blocks, 150 steals, and 470 defensive rebounds during the 2013-14 regular season, George's name being overlooked can likely only be explained away by his injury. The two-time All-Star received no other mention from the league's GMs in any other polling questions concerning the league's most elite players.

As for Roy Hibbert, he is no longer considered by the league's general managers as one of the NBA's top centers. Coming in behind only Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol, and Tim Duncan last season, the Big Dawg was not even listed as receiving votes in this, the 13th annual edition of the GM Survey. With regard to his defense, Roy, once considered a Defensive Player of the Year candidate and named to the league's Second All-Defensive Team, was listed as having only "also received votes" from the GMs when asked who is the league's best interior defender.

If (emphasis on the word "if") the Pacers actually shopped Roy over the off-season as was rumored, the general managers' lowered opinion of him, as exemplified by his drop-off in the above mentioned categories, might partly explain why the team could not seem to fetch a significant piece in return for the 7-foot All-Star.

David West remained stable, as his nature, in being once again recognized as one of the league's "toughest" players, coming in with 11.1% of the vote behind Tony Allen (25.9%) and tied with Kobe Bryant.

The only other member of the Pacers to receive any mention was assistant coach Nate McMillan. Vogel's right-hand man "also received votes" in the category asking, "Who is the league's best assistant coach?"

That's it.

From heavy favorites and top vote earners to honorable mention, or worse, crickets. Once considered a legit challenger to the then reigning champion Miami Heat, the Indiana Pacers were basically an afterthought in this edition of the survey. With any luck (especially after so much bad fortune), perhaps Paul George's return to the court will give the GM's slightly more to say about the Indiana Pacers next year.