Last season, the Indiana Pacers won 56 games and the Eastern Conference Central Division. They did so scoring just 95 points per game (24th in the NBA) and were led by Paul George and Lance Stephenson. We all know about George's horrific leg injury and Stephenson signed with the Charlotte Hornets for $27 mil over 3 years. The Pacers starting lineup on Opening Night could look something like this:
SG - Rodney Stuckey
SF - C.J. Miles
PF - David West
C - Roy Hibbert
Not exactly a roster with NBA Championship aspirations
Paul George led the team with 17 shot attempts per game. Lance Stephenson was 3rd with 11. That is 28 shot attempts (35%), per game, on a team that averaged just 80 shot attempts per contest! Even with West and Hibbert on the team, George and Stephenson were the Pacers top two rebounders. Stephenson led the team in assists as well.
David West, 2nd on the team in shot attempts last season at nearly 13, should lead the team in scoring this season. He might be 34 years old, but West could return to 18 points per game after failing to so since joining the Pacers after the 2010-11 season. He should also be a more efficient rebounder, although he only averaged 8 rebounds per game for a 3 year span from '06-'09. West recorded just 8 double-doubles last season, but 16 the season before. Anywhere from 10-20 double doubles is reasonable this season.
Roy Hibbert had a bad year. He failed to grab 7 rebounds per game. He is 7'2"! The loss of George and departure of Stephenson should help Hibbert pick up some extra rebounds, or it means the Pacers opponents will average a bunch more offensive rebounds. Hibbert also failed to score 11 points per game, which he hasn't done since his rookie season. It is hard to score points in bunches when you only attempt 9 shots per game, and shoot 44% from the floor. Hopefully, the Pacers feed both West and Hibbert in the paint. After 15 double-doubles last season, Hibbert should return to low 20's like he did the prior two seasons.
George Hill will have to have his best season yet, and be the floor general for the Pacers. At 28 years old, Hill is entering his 3rd season as a full time starter. During the 2012-13 season, Hill was aggressive on offense, taking 11.5 shot attempts per game (4.6 from 3 pt) and averaged 14 points on 44% shooting. When he wants to score, he can. 11 times last season, he scored at least 15 points, including a 37 point outing against the Trailblazers in February. 11 of those points came from the free throw line. We will find out how good of a distributor he is this season, as he has never averaged 5 assists per game. In a separate game against Portland, Hill tallied 11 assists. It was the only time he reached double digits.
Rodney Stuckey can score, he just does so in a terribly inefficient way. He will have his opportunity to put up shots in an offense that will desperately be seeking points. If he could manage nearly 12 shots per game coming off the bench on a Pistons team that featured Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith, he will be overwhelmed with scoring opportunities in Indy. Stuckey was 37th in the league in Drive Pts/gm which is a good thing for Pacers fans because he will have to create for himself quite often, and could use West/Hibbert pick and rolls to his advantage. Something Stuckey once did that Hill has not? Average 5 assists per game for an entire season. Stuckey could take over Stephenson's role.
Stuckey is not currently ranked in our rankings, but he could make that list prior to the start of the season, and he will definitely be on our radar towards the end of our drafts. Sleeper
I'm not sure if skipping college was the right move for C.J. Miles, now 27 years old and entering his 10th NBA season. Wait, he has earned $21 mil and just signed a 4 year $18 mil deal with Indiana? Nevermind, he made the right decision.
Miles spent the last 2 seasons in Cleveland, and started 47 of the 116 games he appeared in. He scored 9.9 points per game in less than 20 minutes, and his points per touch were on the same level as LeBron James, James Harden and DeMarcus Cousins. He won't do much more than score some points and knock down a 3pt shot or two each game, but Miles could be a late value pick.