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The Indiana Pacers are not who we thought they were

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13 games into the regular season and the Indiana Pacers have been flat out disappointing.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time to face reality, Pacers fans.

The Indiana Pacers (6-7) have issues. They’re not just temporary issues such as injuries or an unsolidified rotation, but real problems that will last the duration of the season if unsolved. While injuries and the like have certainly played a minor role in the slow start, they’re not the driving factor behind the Pacers’ early struggles.

So, what is the driving factor? Defense? Chemistry? Lack of effort? Weak second unit? All of the above? One could make a case that all of these are why the Pacers have struggled. But what if all of these struggles stem from one comprehensive issue?

Leadership.

Whether you choose to believe it or not, the Pacers have no leadership. That’s THE issue. That’s why the defense cannot put it together consistently. That’s why the effort level and motivation have been low. That’s why the team is not jelling together or playing as a team.

It’s simple: good teams have good leaders. Yes, good teams have talent, but they also have good leaders. The Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James. The Golden State Warriors have Steve Kerr and Steph Curry. The San Antonio Spurs have Gregg Popovich. The Los Angeles Clippers have Doc Rivers and Chris Paul.

The Pacers have the talent. They do not have the leadership.

Paul George? Face it, he simply has yet to develop into the leader this team needs at the moment. PG is calm, smooth, unaffected by pressure, but quiet. None of those are bad, it’s just who he is. George’s teams here in Indiana have been led by other players such as David West and of course the players’ coach himself, Frank Vogel. Due to these people, George never had to be that leader.

He has to be that leader now.

Nate McMillan? According to the press conference after the loss to the Phoenix Suns on Friday night, McMillan believes the game of basketball should motivate his players. Although he may be somewhat correct, the game of basketball is obviously not motivating this team thus far. It’s the head coach’s job to get the most out of his players and to win basketball games. As far as I’m concerned, McMillan hasn’t been doing either of those two things. If there’s a new voice, the players aren’t hearing it. And if they are hearing it, they’re not listening.

Is it time to fold the cards and look forward to a lottery pick? No. It’s way too early for that. But the Indiana Pacers have problems, and they need to solve them quickly if they want to compete this year or, you know, maybe keep that guy named Paul George in an Indiana Pacers uniform for more than two years.

It’s still early, but the Pacers are not who we thought they were.