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Frank Vogel ahead of preseason action: "Jobs can be won or lost"

Prior to the team's preseason opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, head coach Frank Vogel spoke with the media about competition for rotation spots.

Rob Carr

"I don't know who my starting power forward is going to be," said head coach Frank Vogel tongue firmly in-cheek on the eve of the Pacers' first preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. "Point guard rotation, power forward, and center position are pretty stable in terms of what we know is going to happen, and the wing rotation, I have some strong ideas on how that is going to look too, but certainly jobs can be won or lost with how the preseason plays out."

With so many minutes up for grabs on the wing, the preseason will likely serve the Pacers well, as it will provide Vogel the opportunity to begin adjusting for the loss of Paul George as well as get a better sense for the playing tendencies and fit of some of the team's fresh faces.

Exhibition games also provide an excellent back-drop for judging which 5-man units will be most productive together. Last season, George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West, and Roy Hibbert ranked in the top five of 5-man line-ups in terms of plus/minus.

"You never know how you're chemistry is going to play out," said Vogel. "Re-achieving your positive chemistry is something we know we have to do every year."

Without George and Stephenson clocking-in for work at training camp this season, Chris Copeland, C.J. Miles, Solomon Hill, and Damjan Rudez have all been given the opportunity to try their hand at the small forward position.

"It is not just myself that is going to try to take advantage of this opportunity, which makes this a great thing," said Solomon Hill at the team's media day. "We are all competing to try to slide in and help the team as much as possible."

Losing two pivotal starters over the summer and, along with them, more than a third of the team's average offensive production, the Pacers can definitely use all the "help" they can get from wherever they can get it this season.

Aware of the value Frank Vogel places on two-way capable players, Solomon Hill - already considered a natural wing defender - hired a personal shooting instructor  over the off-season to help "smooth out" his shooting touch, per's Mark Montieth. Meanwhile, Vigilant Sports' Scott Agness reports that sharp shooter Chris Copeland has been working with George Hill on how to guard "quicker" and "more athletic" small forwards.

With minutes available for the taking and players working to sharpen their skills, Vogel, rather surprisingly, admits that he is "not overly eager" for the Pacers' preseason opener.

Instead, the team's head coach seems to prefer assessing players more in a head-to-head practice setting, "I like the process of seeing them grind it out against each other in controlled situations like we've had with the ability to stop it, teach, and correct."

Whether at practice or during the team's seven game exhibition schedule, the battle to win or lose a job begins now.

"It's great because it's competition," said Solomon Hill at media day, "and that's what you want from a team."