NBA / Sep 22, 2009 / 11:14 am

The Indiana Pacers Are Better Than You Think

Danny Granger (photo. Stephen Hill)

Danny Granger (photo. Stephen Hill)

At first glance, the Indiana Pacers have all the characteristics of a bad franchise. They missed the playoffs last year. They were ranked 28th overall in attendance in 2008-’09. They appear on national TV a whopping three times this season (two of those are NBA TV). And the average basketball fan probably couldn’t name more than three players on their roster.

But the funny the about it is, they aren’t that bad. Remember, Indiana finished the season in the ninth slot, just three games behind the Pistons. A lot of fans around the league – including their own – don’t understand that the Pacers have the pieces to compete for the eighth seed or better. Start with the core they already have. Danny Granger was an all-star last year and is quickly becoming one of the biggest all-around threats in the game. Last season, he averaged 25.8 point, 5.1 boards, 2.7 assists, 1.03 steals, 1.45 blocks, while shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc. He proved on several occasions last year that he can take over a game himself.

When people talk about one of the league’s most prolific rebounders, Troy Murphy’s name is hardly brought up despite his 11.8 rpg average (second best in the NBA). Mike Dunleavy is overpaid, but he can fill it up on any given night and score a variety of ways.

During the offseason, Larry Bird made significant changes to the team’s supporting cast. Gone are Marquis Daniels are Jarrett Jack. They were replaced by a cast of defensive players like Dahntay Jones, Luther Head and Earl Watson. Indiana also has Brandon Rush, who is sure to build on his solid rookie year. And although fans and critics were skeptical about the drafting of Tyler Hansbrough, I think that he is going have a strong debut.

He’s a winner and his tenacity and heart will help make this Pacers team a tougher defensive team. Though he will never be an all-star, he will be in the league over 10 years – barring injury of course.

Along with Detroit, Philly, Washington and Toronto, Indiana’s in the running for one of the East’s final two slots. The Pistons and Sixers are due to slide and it will open up opportunities for some of the lottery teams. Although Washington and Toronto will probably get one of the spots, I think the Pacers got tougher and better defensively. If TJ Ford can step up offensively to make up for the losses of Daniels and Jack, then they will have a good chance to possibly steal that last spot.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag.

Follow Gerald Narciso on Twitter at @Gerald_Narciso.

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  • Dee

    I think the Pacers will battle the Bobcats for that last spot in the East.

  • DANIEL

    hey i dont care what people say about Tyler H. because of that guy I just became a Pacers fan. good luck to the pacers and the heat of course..

  • Kobeef

    What I like about the Pacers

    - Danny Granger seems like their long term solution at the SF spot. He’s not great but he is very good.

    - Brandon Rush is a goog glue guy who can be a solid 6th man or backup at the SF or SG spots.

    - Roy Hibbert is better than I thought he would be. He seems like he’ll make it in the NBA.

    Other than that, I think this team is a mess. Mike D and Troy Murphy are possibly the most overpaid players in the NBA and this team will not get better until those two are gone.

    TJ Ford is more valuable at this point in his career than Jermaine O’Neal, so that trade was probably good for Indiana, but can only help this team if can gets his head on straight. TJ’sball-hogging, team killing style needs to be fixed.

  • dagwaller

    Agreed with Dee. And the Bucks/Pistons. The Wiz and the Raptors will probably take the two spots vacated by the Pistons and the Sixers. No guaranteeing the Bulls will be back…or the Heat, no matter what some might say.

  • Diego

    I hear ya’ Gerald. Concur, basically. Granger is plain great, and the frontcourt is solid and deep.

    Detroit is sliding; I don’t think the same of Philly. Toronto still won’t be much. Wiz, Indiana, Philly, Miami, Chicago fighting for the 4 slots at the bottom of Eastern Conf. One of them doesn’t make it.

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    No, they’re not.

  • http://www.nukedasouth.net Chicagorilla

    You guys also forgot to add that Tyler found that little girls lost dog in that one commercial. That’s the kind of hustle he brings.

  • johnny

    I thought Dunleavy wasn’t going to play this year. When is he due back?

    If a “good chance” at stealing the last spot is near 50/50, then I don’t agree with the article.

    We will see how good Dahntay’s defense is this year. I’m betting that Denver got somebody better in Arron Afflalo.

  • Steve A

    They are a 30-40 win team. Granger is a good player, not a franchise guy. Until they find one, they’ll continually be a mediocre team praying for the 8th spot in the East. Even then, they’d get steamrolled.

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    I feel like Tyler Hansborough will be better than people expected and the Pacers will go as far as he and Granger takes them.

  • Gerald Narciso

    I agree with you guys, nothing is guaranteed with Chicago. I was really encouraged by Rose, salmons and Tyrus’ performances in the playoffs but time will tell how much Gordons departure will hurt them. Maybe Pargo can make up for the clutch shooting and instant offense.

  • mavs all the way

    the first thing that came to mind after reading the title of this post is “yeah, right…”

  • mellmeister

    they’d contend for the seventh or eight spot…. as long as the east is concerned… those wouldn’t matter come the playoffs…

  • nola

    too many white people on this team.

  • George W Kush Sr

    I also disagree, at least for this season. The losses of Daniels and Jack are going to hurt them. They’re a young team now as they were last year too, so the replacements you mentionned did not make them better.

    They’ve got a good player in Granger and they need to build around him, they need to make some trades happen in order for me to think they’ll make the playoffs.

  • sh!tfaced

    The Pacers are in a position to become the surprise team of the East this coming season…

  • BG the TB

    I think Hansbrough will surprise people this year. He may not be the smoothest player in the world, and he does have those big ol’ bug-eyes, but he’s a winner.

  • jzsmoove

    The Pacers are good. It just happens that 25 other NBA teams are better than them. And banking on a TJ Ford to carry the PG and some of the scoring load doesnt make it any better.

  • life-p

    How do you know Tyler H. will never be an allstar, Gerald? That’s like me reading your body of work and declaring you will never be a real journalist. Feel me. Next time, you should preface your statement with “in my opinion…”

    No disrespect man…

  • http://dimemag.com Dime Magazine

    @life-p.

    This is Gerald. I’m a big Hansbrough fan. I definitely think he was worthy of being a lottery pick. I agree, me saying he will never be an all-star is just an opinion. You never know, he might one day be. I just think there are so many guys in the league I see that have more potential, that I think it will be difficult for him to reach that level. But I know he’ll be solid for years to come.

  • chebs

    TJ FORD WILL HAVE AN AMAZING YEAR

  • doc

    Average team.41-41 is written all over them.Granger is a beast though.

  • Brown

    Replacing Jarrett Jack with Earl Watson is not a good look.

  • SJ

    The Pacers should have found a way to drop TJ Ford and keep Jarrett Jack… Jack is more of a team player, whereas Ford seems to kill any team he’s on. I think the Pacers will do alright his year. The fanbase is growing and people will be going to the games more than last year. Granger will be a beast this year. That dude works hard as hell.

  • erk2044

    My pacers will make it to the playoffs this year with true grit and determination. Granger is awesome. Dunleavy will be the glue for this team. Hibbert is going to be much more reliable this year. And of all the people I personally think is going to be a surprise is Josh McRoberts. He has really worked his tail off this summer and he looked absolutely amazing in the summer league. We beat all the best teams last year. Boston, L.A., Cleveland and alot of our losses were by less than 3 points. Yes T.J. needs to pull it together to really help but earl watson will be steady and travis diener had like a 4or 5-1 assist to turn over ratio last season. We don’t really need to depend on our point guard to score he needs to distribute to danny, brandon, murph, dunlievy, hibbert and so on. Anyways we’re a 6 or 7 seed.

  • Shelby

    For the people who say Danny Granger is not a franchise player, WTF are you talking about? Have you ever watched an NBA game in your life. No one averages those kinds of numbers without being an elitist. He gets better every year with his skill and his leadership. This team lost so many close games last year that it made them look worse than they really are. They played the top teams better than anyone else, and beat the top four which no other team did. Truthfully if they would have had an average score about two points higher per game, they would have went from a 9th ranked team in the east to a 4th ranked team in the east. I would have rather kept Jack than Ford but that is not the end all be all to this team. They are fighters and will come out of the gates very strong this year.

  • TooBigN-daPaint

    You guys are ALL NBA retards. Watch the game against the Denver Nuggets and tell me IF the Pacers ain’t for real this year. Even without Pyscho-T and Luther Head or Dun Dun, the shot lights-outs and completely outplayed Denver’s starters in the first and third quarters and were leading by 26pts when O’Brien called off the dogs……enough said.

    Preseason or no preseason, you can’t tell me that last year’s Pacer’s team which finished ONLY 3 games behind the turd Pistons didn’t dramatically improve over the summer. Larry Legend brought in some experienced NBA young veterans who ALL play defense and with heart. Add in a dramatically improved Hibbert, Rush, AJ Price (rookie who’ll be a quick study), and the College Player of the Decade (Pyscho-T) to a team of Dahntay Jones, Earl Watson, Troy Murphy, Solomon Jones, not to mention by old boy Jeff Foster….enough said. We’ll see ya in Eastern Conference FINALS against Orlando!!!