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Pacers Rotation Questions: Copeland, Hill, or Rudez?

The preseason has wrapped up but questions still remain. Who will get the primary minutes at backup small forward for the Pacers? Chris Copeland, Solomon Hill, or Damjan Rudez?

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The preseason of bumps and bruises is over for the Indiana Pacers, and all that remains is getting healthy for the season opener on Wednesday. Frank Vogel also has some things to figure out about his rotation. Particularly the question that has been discussed in comment sections around Pacers corners of the internet for weeks now. Who will get most of the backup small forward minutes?

The three players vying for this playing time are obviously Chris CoplelandSolomon Hill, and Damjan Rudez. By now their strengths and weaknesses are apparent. Copeland can knockdown three pointers, but is lackluster defensively. Hill is a solid defensive player, but his offensive game has been lacking so far in his career. Rudez has shot well from three in his career overseas, and showcased nice passing ability this preseason, but his defense has been worrisome.

During the preseason Copeland was by far the most consistent. Through six games he averaged 12 points per game on 45.7 percent shooting from three point range. Hill averaged five points per game on 32.1 percent shooting from the field and no makes from three, while Rudez scored 4 points per game shooting 30 percent from the field, and 23.1 percent from outside.

Keep in mind this is very small sample size, but based on their preseason performances it seems obvious that Copeland should start the season getting most of the minutes. He shot the ball well and pairing him with C.J. Watson gives the second unit two threats from outside.

If I had to guess, I'd expect Hill and Copeland both to get minutes early this season. If Copeland is hitting shots then he should keeping playing, but if he starts to go cold and ends up being a turnstile defensively Hill could get a look. Hill could also conceivably play shooting guard if Vogel elects to go with a ten man rotation.

If this ends up being the case it will be Rudez that gets left out in the cold. He showed flashes during the preseason, but for the most part it was a struggle. Part of me wonders whether or not he will fit in at all as a wing player in the NBA. I'm not sure he would defend well at any position, but he makes much more sense as a stretch four. Vogel has been reluctant to play a stretch four, and said recently on Zach Lowe's podcast that he has no plans to change that. That sounds like bad news for Rudez.

In the end it all depends on what Vogel wants from that position. If it's a good defensive player then Hill obviously gets the nod, but for a team that struggles to score at times Copeland may be a better option. Thankfully the guessing will end soon.

The season tips off Wednesday against the Philadelphia 76ers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and presumably at least one of these guys will get action. With Vogel wanting to play a deeper rotation and still trying to figure out some things we may even see all three. Especially if Philadelphia decides they'd like to get blown out in the first game of their second season of tanking.

I'd put my money on Copeland finally turning into the bench "heat-check" guy he was supposed to be last season, and Hill being used on nights when good perimeter defense is needed. Where will Rudez end up? I have no clue. Maybe in the same bench Siberia where Copleand spent most of last season. Enough speculation from guys like me, let's get to the basketball.