A few weeks ago, Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports initiated an ambitious offseason project in which he set out to rank every NBA franchise's "all-time starting five." Dwyer's efforts prompted two separate Fanposts on Indycornrows (here and here), and have divided fan bases every where as only sifting through the Best of the Best can do. Recently, it was the Pacers' turn for starting-five treatment. Unsurprisingly, Dwyer's selections relied heavily on stalwarts from the Pacers' golden ABA past:
C: Mel Daniels: "...Daniels led the ABA in rebounds per game three times and finished his Pacer career averaging 16 caroms a night. He also contributes 19.4 points per contest."
F: Roger Brown: "...Utilizing both a sturdy and athletic driving game and a killer step-back jumper, Brown averaged 18 points per game with the Pacers."
F: George McGinnis: "...McGinnis was a massive force for two different Pacer champions and the 1975 ABA MVP. He led the ABA in scoring that season at nearly 30 per game, and averaged 25 points, nearly 13 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.2 steals while working out of the power forward position."
G: Reggie Miller: "...A knockout shooter who developed a fantastic triple-threat position around the fin de siècle, he could have even easily played well into his 40s.
G: Freddie Lewis: "...A hybrid guard with a potent scoring punch, Lewis was a clutch scorer who excelled in the playoff setting."
Mel Daniels and Reggie Miller lead the way as Hall of Famers and franchise icons, while McGinnis and Brown pair up as a scoring-heavy, ahead-of-their time duo at the forward spots. Arguments could be made to include Rik Smits, Jermaine O'Neal, Danny Granger, Paul George, Chuck Person, Jalen Rose, Detlef Schremph, and a slew of others.
But the big takeaway is just how historically slim the point-guard options are for the Blue and Gold. Lewis is likely the best of the bunch: a three-time ABA champion and four-time ABA All-Star who averaged more than 20 PPG three times in his 11-year career, but a Hall of Fame talent he was not. Nor was Vern Fleming, Mark Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley, and the rest of the good-not-great leftovers. Conclusion: a dramatic franchise upgrade at the PG spot is in order.
The Pacers Look to Keep Lavoy Allen Fit
In July, Lavoy Allen re-signed with the Pacers on a three-year, $12-million deal (team option for third year). With NBA salaries going nuclear and Allen's role expected to grow in his second full season with the team, it presents as team-friendly deal, and it may even be friendlier than the surface numbers indicate. As reported by Eric Pincus:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Re: Lavoy Allen, w help from <a href="https://twitter.com/LarryCoon">@LarryCoon</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/AlbertRandom1">@AlbertRandom1</a> + others, looks like no signing bonus, $1.5 mil in incentives Pacers <a href="https://twitter.com/BBallInsiders">@BBallInsiders</a></p>— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) <a href="https://twitter.com/EricPincus/status/632251109550088192">August 14, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Basically Lavoy Allen has what looks like a weigh-in bonus for $500k each season - considered likely <a href="https://twitter.com/BBallInsiders">@BBallInsiders</a> Indiana Pacers</p>— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) <a href="https://twitter.com/EricPincus/status/632251270766592000">August 14, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Maybe this isn't new. Maybe this sort of incentive is common for all player contracts, including Allen's one-year deal in 2014-2015.
Or maybe not.
Maybe this is new. Maybe the Pacers view Allen as an inflation-risk (thank you, Patriots). Or maybe they're so serious about the new speed-it-up-offense that they're willing to trade additional salary for fitness compliance. Whatever the reason, you have to like it; the idea of holding players accountable, and Allen seems like the type who'll take it all in stride.
Myles Turner Readies for the NBA
Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders profiled Myles Turner's jump to the NBA on Monday, and it should have all citizens of Pacerland enthused.
Firstly, the past:
To understand just how far Turner has come, consider that three years ago, he wasn't even on college basketball's radar, much less the NBA's. Just before his junior year of high school, he broke his ankle and at that point he was still relatively small, so he wasn't even ranked among the top 100 high school players in the country. However, a six-inch growth spurt that year and an evolving game allowed him to deliver some monster AAU performances and a dominant senior season. Suddenly, he was the No. 2 ranked recruit in the nation.
Secondly, the present:
Turner is one of the most intriguing big men to enter the NBA in quite some time because of his well-rounded game. Like other players who had their growth spurt so late (with Anthony Davis being the most notable example), Turner is extremely skilled and versatile. He can knock down jump-shots from the perimeter to space the floor and has terrific ball-handling skills that shocked Toppert during their early workout sessions. He has these weapons in his arsenal because, prior to his growth spurt, he often played on the perimeter and he modeled his game after swingmen like Kevin Durant and Lamar Odom.
Thirdly, the future:
Toppert believes that the Pacers just selected a potential franchise-changing player.
"If he reaches his full potential, he could be one of the best big men in the league - no question about it," Toppert said. "When I started working with him, and I distinctly remember this, I told him he could transcend his position. That's something we talked about: ‘Transcend your position. Don't just be a typical back-to-the-basket five, a slow type of player. Transcend your position by having the face-up skills, spacing the floor, being well-rounded.' He has a great motor about him, blocking shots and getting rebounds in his area. Those things combined with his skill set, it's clear he can be special. The league values big men like Myles. He has a unique combination of skills, versatility, size and the right kind of personality. Those are ingredients as far as putting together a recipe for success."
Read it. Read all of it. It provides some terrific insight into Turner's personality and NBA mindset. The more you learn about him, the more difficult it is to refute that he may be the most talented young player to don a Pacers' uni not named Paul George. May the breaks go his way and allow him to live up to his enormous potential. If they do, maybe ten years years from now folks like Kelly Dwyer will be forced to revise his all-time Pacers' starting five.