Frank Vogel recognizes the long road ahead for the 2014-15 Indiana Pacers by avoiding to set any hard-line goals for the team in his Press Day presser. While Vogel never shies away from an opportunity to talk up his squad, there was a cloud of uncertainty surrounding his answers, from the starting lineup and rotation, minutes and everything in between.
In speaking towards the players he has returning, Vogel does want to use Roy Hibbert more offensively. Vogel believes some of Hibbert's struggles stem from being able to find an offensive rhythm with the increased workload from Lance Stephenson and Paul George over the last season. He also expects to see George Hill make a step forward this year as well, with circumstances creating opportunities for Hill to shine, though Vogel was quick to point out that Hill was already hard at work improving his level of play for the upcoming season even with Stephenson and George still on the roster and healthy.
With Hibbert and Hill expected to take on leading roles on the team, Vogel looks to talk with both about improving their roles as leaders in the locker room as well. Vogel doesn't really look for West to step up his veteran leadership game, and knows West just wants to win, expecting him to take on whatever role asked of him to help the team find their highest level of possible success.
Vogel still wants the approach to the team to be the same team-first oriented mindset that helped move Indiana to the top of the Eastern Conference standings last season. That includes the team's trademark smash mouth identity, aiming to be even more so offensively this season according to Vogel with a greater reliance on interior play for the offense and set up an offense where the open man becomes the go-to man.
When asked about filling the void left defensively by Paul George in particular, Vogel said there wasn't any one play who could pick up that slack, but did note that Solomon Hill has the ability to step into an elite defensive role. Solomon is expect to join a deep wing rotation when Vogel spoke of the team's rotations. As expected, there won't be much if any shake up in regards to the point guard, center, or power forward position. According to Vogel:
- Point guard - George Hill, C.J. Watson, Donald Sloan
- Power forward - David West, Luis Scola
- Center - Roy Hibbert, Ian Mahinmi
Those mirror the team's rotation from last season. The differences included expectations that Lavoy Allen could see backup minutes at the 4 & 5 spot, with Chris Copeland expected to take on wing rotation minutes. Vogel, who noted his desire for a 10 man rotation, spoke highly of the amount of players available to go at the wing position including Rodney Stuckey, C.J. Miles, Solomon Hill, Damjan Rudez, and Copeland.
Also noting George Hill's ability to move into the two position, there may be a lot of help, but it also appears there will be guys completely left out of the rotation if everyone stays healthy. This isn't so much a shock for guys like Allen, Sloan, or Rudez, but if G. Hill is expect to play minutes at the two, that could spell less opportunity at the wing for a guy like Copeland perhaps.
Vogel shied away from talking about the team's starting lineup, mentioning he had a lineup in mind, but wanted to see how things played out through training camp and preseason before deciding. He does expect Watson to gain more opportunities like G. Hill while still searching for quality play off the bench overall with Mahinmi and Scola playing similar roles as last year.
Vogel also spoke of opportunities in seeing West & Scola playing together given the ability fo of the unit offensively, but wants to make sure the team's defensive identity is upheld. The loss of George does concern Vogel as far as the team's defensive abilities go, as he feels there's still plenty of potential for the roster to be successful on the offensive end, but will be relying on a team effort to make sure the defense doesn't slip.
Lastly, Vogel cleared up some injury questions, noting that George had a broken leg (surprise!), but more pressing that Mahinmi would be in non-contact drills through the first week or two of training camp as he readies himself for the opening of the regular season. There didn't appear to be much in the way of news in regards to the health status of Shayne Wittington.
It would've been easy for Vogel to step up and talk about how the Pacers had no worries and they'd be willing to prove everyone wrong, but with his presser, he offered up plenty of potential insights as the Pacers will enter training camp and get ready for a real live basketball game on October 7th.