As the 2012 Off-Season continues the NBA Vine Report will recap each team’s progress in several areas: Players Obtained, Players Lost, Short Term Outlook, and Long Term Outlook. The rankings for each category will then be combined to give an overall ranking for the “state of the organization” score. The order of teams is being determined by final playoff performance (i.e. Sixers go before Lakers as they won 3 games versus the Lakers 1 in the semi-finals). After working our way through the league based on final standings, teams will be updated based on significant trades, signings, or staff alterations throughout the year.
Yesterday’s Score: Lakers 34/40
State of the Organization: Indiana Pacers (as of 7/26/2012):
Players Lost: Darren Collison (traded) Dahntay Jones (traded) Leandro Barbosa (free agent) Louis Amundson (free agent) Jeff Foster (retired) A.J. Price (signed by Wizards)
Essentially, the Pacers lost their entire bench with the exception of Psycho-T this off-season; this is actually a good thing as the Pacer’s bench was often terrible last season. Lacking a bona fide bench scorer and with no reliable backup big man, these were the two areas they needed to address. Letting two primary bench scorers—Collison and Barbosa—move on to other teams has opened up the opportunity to address this. However, Collison is still young and just a year removed from a great sophomore season. Could Collison’s injury have hampered his season? The Pacers may regret losing him. Barbosa’s best days are most likely behind him, despite shooting well from beyond the arc and often providing a burst of scoring off the bench, he is now only a 10 minutes per game type player.
1-10 Players Lost Score: 8.5
Players Obtained: Ian Mahinmi (trade) Miles Plumlee (27th Pick) D.J. Augustin (free agent) Gerald Green (free agent) Orlando Johnson (36th pick via Kings)
The Pacers are basing a lot of their expectations on the emergence of Ian Mahinmi this year as he will need to backup Hibbert and play alongside Hansbrough better than Amundson did. Consider Mahinmi didn’t necessarily wow anyone last season despite increased minutes, this may be a risky bet but he is at least an upgrade over Amundson. An even more unlikely premise is that Plumlee—an athletic 7 footer with a soft touch and decent offensive game—will be able to contribute a substantial amount of minutes his rookie year. It will take him some time to adjust to the strength and speed of NBA big men but Plumlee does have potential.
It is hard to see how Augustin is necessarily an improvement over Darren Collison but he could possibly take back the starting position from George Hill who may be better served as a hybrid point/shooting guard off the bench. Only time will tell if the Pacers made the right pick between Collison and Augustin but for now this is not an upgrade. Gerald Green however, may be an excellent pickup; having struggled with some maturity and consistency issues, Green seemed to finally be putting things together with the Nets last year. Green may really thrive playing behind the stellar starting Pacers lineup. Orlando Johnson may have an engaging person history but he is unlikely to ever be more than an end of bench type player in the NBA.
1-10 Players Obtained Score: 7
Short Term Outlook: The Pacers boast one of the most balanced starting lineups last season and this year—regardless of starting PG (Augustin or Hill)—will be no different. One thing to look for is if this is the year that Paul George takes the next step and becomes a more prolific wing scorer. As Granger and West enter their 30s, this is a good time for George and Hibbert to become the focal point of this team. The Pacers should have no problem taking the Central Division from the Rose-less Bulls and may land as high as the 2nd seed in the Easter Division but for them to take the next step in the playoffs, George and Hibbert will have to emerge offensively.
1-10 Short Term Outlook Score: 9
Long Term Outlook: David West is 31 but looked strong last year in his return from knee surgery and could possibly play more than the 29 MPG he did in the condensed 11-12 season. Another year of rehab and conditioning should see West slightly improve his numbers, plus, give him more time to adept to his still relatively new teammates. After this season the Pacers will be able to reevaluate the veteran as his excellent 2 year 10mil per contract will be up. West is the type of player that is typically getting overpaid and burdening a team with a multiyear deal into their mid 30s. This flexibility is another example of the excellent job Bird did in assembling this team for the short and long term.
Paul George is a bargain with his rookie contract at 3.2 mil per and the Pacers will be able to make a bargain qualifying offer next season as well. George’s evolution will determine how much he commands from the Pacers the following season as a RFA. George has all the tools to become a perennial all-star and leader of this squad. Roy Hibbert just hauled in a 4 year 59 million dollar contract after his 11-13 All Star campaign. While this contract is pretty hefty for a guy who only scores 11 ppg, it is a bargain for the 3 blocks and 11 rebounds he provides. Expect Hibbert to continue to improve offensively; it wouldn’t be surprising if the Pacers ended up wishing they had given him a fifth year.
1-10 Long Term Outlook Score: 10
State of the Organization Index: 35 out of 40
Tomorrow’s SOTO: L.A. Clippers