Archive for the ‘sports’ Category

My All-Time NBA Starting Five

Posted: January 9, 2014 in sports

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the all-time greats in the game of basketball and I’ve been studying the play styles and competition level of each era. After having all of these random thoughts about NBA greats of the past I knew I had to make this post. Every basketball fan has thought “what if?” What if my favorite team in 2014 played in 1980? What if LeBron James went head to head with Michael Jordan? What if Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant played together? These incredible match-ups will obviously never happen but it’s always great to think about. In this brief post I will be giving you my all-time starting five and sixth man.

1. Point Guard: Oscar Robertson

At point guard i chose “The Big O” Oscar Robertson. I know Ervin “Magic” Johnson is the popular choice for the greatest point guard of all-time but I feel like Oscar gets overlooked. Not too many people will go back past the 1980s when talking about the greats. those players from the 1960s to early 1970s seem to get overlooked. Magic wasn’t the first over-sized player to run the point. Oscar Robertson was 6’5, 220 pounds, with a ridiculous wingspan that allowed him to finish at the rim and rise over opponents effortlessly. Not only could he get the job done offensively but defensively he was a nightmare. He was always in the passing lanes and he had the hand-eye coordination to rip the ball away from his opponents whenever he felt like it. In his second year in the league he earned the nickname “Mr. Triple Double” by averaging 30.8 PPG, 12.5 RPG, and 11.4 APG. Also back when he started playing, steals and blocks were not counted. In 1973 he averaged 4 blocks per game and finished the season with 77 steals. From his rookie year in 1960 to his final game in 1974 his numbers diminished slowly. If steals and blocks were counted in the early 60s maybe we’d be calling him “Mr. Quadruple Double” instead.

Honorable Mention: Ervin Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, Walt Frazier, Bob Cousy, John Stockton

2. Shooting Guard: Michael Jordan

This pick shouldn’t surprise anyone. To be honest just his name alone should give people enough of a reason why I chose him as my starting shooting guard. Do I really have to explain this? He’s a six-time NBA champion, five-time MVP. He’s won the defensive player of the year award and he’s been named to the All-Defensive First Team nine times. He gets the job done at both ends of the court and he always seems to be one step ahead of his opponents. Another reason I chose him is for his clutch-ness and his will to win. Michael Jordan has rare intangibles that you can’t explain. He’s simply just the greatest to ever do it.

Honorable Mention: Reggie Miller, Clyde Drexler, George Gervin, Kobe Bryant, Jerry West

3. Small Forward: LeBron James

I chose LeBron for my starting small forward because of his physical attributes. Sure, I could have gone with Larry Bird who’s arguably the most ruthless competitor and smartest player to ever man the position. Then there’s Julius “Dr. J” Erving who revolutionized the game before MJ with his spectacular athleticism and creativity around the bucket. I could even have chosen John Havlicek who put in as much work as Bob Cousy and Bill Russel on those 1962-78 Boston Celtics squads. But when I look at LeBron I see someone playing the position in a way that it’s never been played before. Other than Larry Bird no other small forward has ran the league longer than LeBron. He has excellent court vision so he can be a play initiator if needed and he has great rebounding skills. Even though he still has to build up his resume to be considered the greatest small forward ever I think it’s safe to say he’ll have surpassed many of the greats when he decides to untie his sneakers for the last time.

Honorable Mention: Larry Bird, James Worthy, Scottie Pippen, Julius Erving, John Havlicek

4. Power Forward: Tim Duncan

This was by far the hardest position to select a player from. How do you choose between Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, Charles Barkley, Tim Duncan and Karl Malone? Choosing Tim Duncan came down to accomplishments, but then after looking at the accomplishments i realized that he was so successful because he had a little part of each of those players games in his arsenal. He had defense like KG, footwork like Barkley, he may not be a three-point shooter like dirk but he could stretch the floor just enough, and he was great in the pick-n-roll like Karl Malone. Players have been better rebounders and scorers as him. Others have won multiple championships. But no player at the power forward position has provided the complete all-around package that Duncan has. His amazing resume speaks for itself: Four NBA titles, two MVPs, nine All-NBA First Teams, eight All-Defensive First Teams and three NBA Finals MVPs. This man just goes out there and gives it his all each and every night.

Honorable Mention: Kevin Garnett, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Mchale, Elvin Hayes

5. Center: Bill Russell

It took everything in me to not put Hakeem Olajuwon or Shaquille O’neal as the starter for my all-time team but it was just impossible to deny Bill Russell this spot. Has there ever been a winner like Bill Russell? Yes there have been more dominant centers that have put up far greater numbers like Wilt Chamberlain who averaged 50.4 PPG in 1961-62 and averaged 27.2 RPG 1960-61 but even he only managed to win just two championships. Individual accomplishments are great but basketball is a team sport. Your individual awards are supposed to be backed up by winning the ultimate prize. Bill Russell won 11 NBA championships in his 13 year career. He had great teammates in Bob Cousy and John Havlicek and one of the greatest coaches ever in Red Auerbach but those guys didn’t win a championship until he arrived in Boston. As a center Bill Russell focused on defense, he was an excellent shot-blocker and he is for sure one of the greatest rebounders of all time. On the offensive end things came easy and him because of his athleticism and just pure basketball instinct.

Honorable Mention: Shaquille O’neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone

6. Sixth Man: Charles Barkley (PF)

Although Barkley was barely 6’5 playing at the power forward position he had all the power you’d want in a power forward. He had speed and great agility to go with that power and that combination made him a tenacious rebounding machine and a fast-break finisher. But one thing that made me want him as my sixth-man is his heart. He never backed down from a challenge and he always went out there and gave his teammates everything he had to give. His high motor and competitiveness created one of the most phenomenal players in NBA history. If he’s not starting for me he is for sure someone who is going to be the first one up off of the bench for me.

These five players would be the foundation for my all-time greats team. It’s a good mixture of just about every era of basketball. These players are not only talented but they are very versatile and very accomplished. There are plenty of other guys that I would love to throw into my starting lineup but to me these guys are the greatest ever at their positions. I know there’s plenty of people who will disagree with my line up  but the beauty of it is; topics like this create great debates and discussions. There’s so many combinations of greats that can be put together, so many great games that will never happen but all we can do is dream.

*LEAVE YOUR ALL-TIME STARTING FIVES IN THE COMMENT SECTION*

The Eastern Conference has had quite a few down years in recent memory but this year is without a doubt the worst that it has ever been. With only two teams over .500 that leaves room for any team to make the playoffs with sub .500 records. With a conference playing so bad who is really an all-star? Besides Indiana and Miami the eastern conference is flat-out playing an atrocious brand of basketball right now. The 9 win Nets and Knicks can still get back into the playoffs just by winning a few games… that’s how bad things are. After the top two spots, the three through eight seeds are really up for grabs. Out West the Golden State Warriors are currently the eighth seed by a few games, if they were in the east they would be the third seed with a shot at catching Miami for the second. There are even teams in the hunt for the eighth seed out West that play better than a lot of the teams in the East.

With the East being as bad as it is choosing the all-star reserves will be somewhat tricky. Other than the usual suspects, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade, there’s a lot of room for newcomers playing for bad teams. Paul George and Roy Hibbert are already expected to make it as well, but who will be the backups? In the front court Brook Lopez and Luol Deng both are out with injuries, Spencer Hawes is having a decent season but is he really an all-star? Jeff Green, from the Boston Celtics, was expected to carry the load while Rondo recovers from his ACL tear last season but he’s just been another role player for them.

The only players that I can really see having somewhat of a clear shot at making the team are Josh Smith, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and David West. With Derrick Rose out Noah and Boozer have stepped their games up. Then Josh Smith is having his most consistent season as a pro. He’s averaging 16 points 7 rebounds and 3 assists. His shot percentage is sitting at 41% which isn’t great for a guy whose strength is in the paint. David West is a guy who’s the vocal leader for the number one team in the league and can turn it on offensively if he’s asked to do so. He’s averaging 13 points 7 rebounds and 3 assists while shooting 50% from the field, all-star numbers? No, if he averaged 15 points maybe, but in a down eastern conference he should be considered.

The back court players are even more difficult to choose. I know that Kyrie Irving and John Wall should be there for sure. Kemba Walker has been playing out of his mind or a while now so he should be there as well. Here comes the tricky part, which players have a real shot after those two guys? Deron Williams? Evan Turner? Will enough people add Michael Carter-Williams as a write in vote? What about Lance “Born Ready” Stephenson? He’s been playing well all season. He leads all shooting guards in assists and rebounding then he has a league high in triple doubles with three. It seems like every time he gets on the court he gets close to having a triple double. He’s not a guy who is going to score a ton of points night in and night out (Even though he has set three new career highs this season 22,23,26) but he is a guy who will get the job done in every facet of the game.

Joe Johnson is a guy who will get consideration just based on his name alone. But in all honesty if you’re playing for a New York team and your name isn’t Carmelo Anthony I don’t think you have done much to earn a spot to represent your team as an all-star, especially with the East playing as poor as they are. When you look at the Nets and Knicks there’s no reason these teams shouldn’t be near the top of the conference. Things like the Knicks double overtime victory over the Bucks is not impressive. These two teams need to step up.

The Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat should be expecting to have multiple guys represent their organizations come All Star Weekend. When you’re at the top of a weekend conference and your record is amongst the league’s best in either conference, I think it’s should be a given that your guys deserve to be there. There are guys on losing teams that put up a fight every night then there are guys who don’t even show up. The East has more guys taking it easy than going out there and fighting for their team and it shows. When the third seed isn’t winning half of their games there’s no excuse for the teams below them to not play with a sense of urgency. They should smell blood and make a push for the next teams spot.

It’s really sad to see an entire conference play so poorly. When you look at the Western Conference there’s a vast amount of good teams. You have to praise their owners and general managers for their ability to put these teams together. The Eastern Conference is a total wreck and when you look for the reasons to why that is; you have to look at the people at the top and put the blame on them. Everything starts from the top and trickles down. If the front office isn’t performing well most likely that team isn’t either. Hopefully the East gets back to being competitive but from what we’re seeing out of this conference now, I’d expect this to take quite some time.

Can Indy Get Over The Hump?

Posted: December 5, 2013 in sports

The Indiana Pacers got off to an impressive start, going 9-0, until they lost  to the Bulls in Chicago. Then the Pacers went on a 7 game win streak before losing to the Portland Trailblazers on the road. Right now Indiana sits at the top of the league with a record of 16-2. Coming into the season there were plenty of questions hanging over this impressive roster: Will Paul George continue his growth as a player and a leader? Will Danny Granger come back healthy? When Granger comes back, will he be inserted into the starting lineup again or come off the bench as the sixth-man? How much will this new and improved bench contribute? But the main question that everyone has is: Will Indy finally “Beat The Heat?”

During the off-season the Pacers drafted Solomon Hill from The University of Arizona. Position wise, this pick made little to no sense at all. It’s not really a logjam at the small forward position because when Granger comes back there will be little debate on who’s going to get minutes. There are some good reasons behind this pick though. Hill was a four-year college guy so we know that he’s been somewhat “battle-tested.” He’s also a good defender and is a versatile offensive threat with his slashing abilities and has a decent 15-20 ft jump shot.  Once again this goes back to him playing four years in college, he may not have that pure talent that some of these “super freshmen” have but he definently has had more time to develop his game before reaching the league and that does more good than bad. The worse that can come from multiple years in college is sliding down the draft board and no one wants that right? (Debate for another day). Compare this Solomon Hill pick to the risky Lance Stephenson pick back in 2010. A guy with great future potential but not enough minutes to test him out right away.

Another acquisition that has huge upside and just as huge of a downside is Chris Copeland. Pacer fans may remember watching last years playoff series against the Knicks wondering why Copeland wasn’t getting any minutes. During the season he torched the Pacers, so many people would expect that he’d get decent minutes in the playoffs. Every time Copeland stepped foot on the court he was scoring and making it look easy. After he a few three’s Mike Woodson would sit him and we’d never see him back in the game. He was the spark plug that the Knicks needed during that series but  Mike Woodson could not see that. Copeland was a rookie last year but he’s a veteran to pro basketball; playing overseas in various countries. His skill set may be limited offensively but the man surely knows how to hit shots from beyond the arc and he knows how to do it in bunches which is exactly what the Pacers need coming off the bench. Defensively he’s a nightmare, he has no versatility at all, hell, he can’t even guard his own position. But with his ability to score in bunches coach Vogel won’t have to have him out there for extended minutes.

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CJ Watson was picked up to run that second unit. He has a similar skill set to starting point, George Hill. He’s a scorer and a great defender. When Hill goes to the bench not much is dropped off, CJ can easily pick up the slack. Last season Indy went with DJ Augustine who was brought in to be a pure point guard of the bench and that didn’t work out. He couldn’t defend and he never really found his groove offensively. I like the acquisition of Watson for two reasons, he won’t have to try to carry the load offensively with this improved bench and his defense will be there every game. Last year when DJ came in he was the primary scorer. Tyler Hansbrough had two moves that rarely worked and Sam Young could barely even dribble a basketball. DJ never had a shot with that lineup. CJ has an improved Orlando Johnson, Luis Scola, and will eventually have a former all-star playing with him in Danny Granger. Of course that doesn’t mean it’ll only be second unit players out there playing with him but that second unit could be a subpar starting lineup in this league. There’s a few teams in this league that don’t even have a starting five that can compete with this Pacers bench (Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, etc).

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The next move really let the basketball world know that the Pacers are serious about contending for a title. Trading the inconsistent Gerald Green who was a huge bust signing last year, Miles Plumlee, and a future 1st round pick to the Suns for a crafty old vet. in Luis Scola. With Scola, the Pacers  don’t have to wonder what they’ll get from their back up big-men like in years past with Tyler Hansbrough. Sometimes Tyler would show up but most of the time he’d just be out there getting fouls and missing his “throw” shots at the rim. Scola has been through the fire, he’s an Olympian so he knows what it’s like to play on the big stage. He’s a model of consistency and he has great patience and poise whenever he steps foot on the court.

When I look at how much this team has grown it’s not so much from a skill development point, but rather from their sense of urgency, consistency and confidence. During the first eleven games of the season we’ve seen them have comeback victories and blow out wins over decent teams. Paul George has shown us that he’s found his comfort zone offensively and that he’s not afraid to take the big shots when needed. He’s became a more consistent mid-range shooter and he’s attacking the rim a lot more than he was last year. In the Pacers 103-96 overtime win against the Knicks his patience was on full display. He had a slow first half but turned it around in the second half and finished with 35 points, five rebounds, four assists, five steals, and two blocks. Not to mention playing great defense on Carmelo Anthony in the second half forcing him to alter his shots causing him to finish with a poor field goal percentage 35.7%.

When the Pacers traveled to Portland to play the Trailblazers they would be facing off against the current top team in the West. Even though this game was neck and neck for most of the way Indy lead for most of it. At the end of the game it looked like Portland was on pace to win until Paul George caught fire from the three-point line. He hit shot after shot to give the Pacers a chance to tie or take the lead but a few breakdowns on defense prevented that. There were some questionable calls down the stretch like the two fouls on Roy Hibbert that sent Lamarcus Aldridge last two trips to the free-throw line. Aldridge would drive to the basket leading with his leg resulting in Roy falling to the ground and hunched over in pain. The verticality rule would have been in full effect if Aldridge’ leg wouldn’t have kneed Roy on those two possessions. Call me bias all you want but based on other games around the league and previous games where that would happen, it would either be an offensive foul or a no-call. Nonetheless the Blazers flat-out won the game. Paul George had a career high of 43 points but that right there tells you that others didn’t do enough. Lance Stephenson only had 2 points and fouled out of the game, David West wasn’t consistent, the George Hill wasn’t looking for his shot and couldn’t figure out how to slow down Damian Lillard.

This season, without a doubt  is “championship or bust” for the Pacers. They have all the tools needed to succeed, They’re skilled at every position, they have size… at every position, and they have the best defense in the league. Defense wins championships and that theory will never be proven wrong. When you look at how their season ending last year, they have a bitter taste in their mouths and they know the pain of losing a game seven on the road and do not want to be back in that position again. Everyone on this team has worked hard to make improvements to their game, and with defense and their new depth on the bench they’re ready to go far.

 

Many would agree that the Miami Heat will make it back to the NBA Finals. If you look at the Eastern Conference there are some roadblocks but those blocks may not be sturdy enough to contain the Heat. The Pacers have exploited their weaknesses over the past two seasons and now look like the favorite to beat them out of the East. Now when I say favorite, I’m only saying that they have beaten them in a more convincing manner than the other top teams in the East. With that being said I don’t expect to see LeBron James tweeting from home during the finals.

If Miami makes it to the finals I expect them to win. I know that they’re lacking size and depth up front but looking at the big’s on the top teams the only team that could pose a threat is the San Antonio Spurs with Tim Duncan and likes of “Tiaaago Splitter” like ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith likes to say. But recent trends have shown that the San Antonio Spurs will dominate the regular season and fall short in the playoffs. With that being said it’s hard for me to expect them to make it to the finals this season especially seeing how great western teams are playing this year.

The Oklahoma City Thunder has shown that they miss the presence of James Harden and along with that, missing a post player forces them to play a run-n-gun style constantly. Sure Perkins is a great defender but when he has to guard either Bosh or Shane Battier he’s forced to leave the paint further than he would like to, rendering him to almost being ineffective. Ibaka might have a good scoring output one game but don’t expect that to be a constant variable in a seven game series.

The Clippers are tricky. Sometimes I look at them and try to figure out how they even lose games then other times their weaknesses are too much for them to overcome. They have two strong athletic big men who can pose a threat to Miami but at some point not being able to fully get a post-game going can hurt them. Blake Griffin has an advantage on most power forwards in the NBA because of his speed. If they’re in the finals against Miami whoever is going to be on him, probably Battier and LeBron at some point, will be able to keep up with him. He can back people down but without true post moves he’ll basically be aiming for the backboard hoping that it goes in. True post players are now becoming extinct; either you’re a face-up player or an athletic slasher. But that’s an article for another day.


Memphis and Utah both have good big men that could start for any team in the league but they’re missing too much on the wings. Memphis just doesn’t seem to play with the same energy they had before the Rudy Gay trade and let’s face it; Utah won’t even make it out of the first round. Utah might not even make it to the playoffs with the Lakers right on their tail. Houston is also in that mix but unless they hit a ton of three’s like they did against Golden State for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs they’ll be sitting at home for the second round.

But let’s say the Heat don’t make it and a team like the Pacers can reach the finals or even the Celtics or Knicks can get over their struggles and turn things around. How would they match up against the over powered West in a seven game series? If you check Hollinger’s playoff odds for this this year a lot of the western teams have a shot at winning 60+ games. The odds show that the Pacers would finish second in the Eastern Conference with a record of 52-30, which isn’t bad but if they were in the Western Conference that would only be good enough for 7th place… 7th place. So can an Eastern team that isn’t the Miami Heat really be a challenge to a Western opponent? I know records are just more numbers but sometimes they are hard to argue with. Sure the Pacers can beat the Heat but how do they match up against teams like OKC and the Spurs who they’ve struggled with in the past.


Indiana’s game is inside-out. They attack the high post with David west and Hibbert is there to beat defenders with rare jump hooks and to clean up misses with put backs. Sometimes the wings get too carried away and forget about the clear advantages that they have in the paint. But a team like the Thunder would be more comfortable with that matchup because their big men can stay home a little more. David West is a hard cover for anyone but if you ask Serge Ibaka who he would rather be chasing around between possible finals forwards (David West, LeBron James, Shane Battier, etc.), without a doubt he would say West all day.

The Knicks have shown shades of being great and have shown that if Melo is off you can’t count on the supporting cast to pick up the weight. The main reason for their inconsistencies on the offensive end is because of their high three point attempts. “You live by the three and you die by the three” is a quote that seems to come out of every commentator’s mouth when talking about the Knicks. They don’t exactly have an all-around game on offense. They can get up and down with anyone but when it comes down to the stretch and you need easy baskets it’s hard for them to get.

Carmelo can get a last second shot to win a game but why even be in that situation where you need one. One thing I love about players like LeBron is how he can take over a game before things get too tight. When that clock is running down he’s already done his damage on both ends of the court so that when that clock gets down to just seconds remaining all they have to worry about is playing defense. The Knicks usually don’t have that option when facing a formidable opponent. This is a very dangerous team but their flaws can be dissected easily.

Yes Melo can hit a shot from anywhere on the court but when it’s late in the game you need easy buckets and often we see Melo put into a one-on-one situations with minimum off-ball movement from the other players. When he’s in the game his teammates tend to stand around and watch Melo go to work. In today’s NBA you need more than one guy as your focal point. Even if you have one amazing superstar player it doesn’t matter how much he scores; if no one else is contributing that team will never get close to a championship.

The Chicago Bulls are a team that has shown us a couple things. They’re excellent on defense and will fight you to the end. But with Derrick Rose being out for this long there’s no way they’re in the championship talk. If he comes back they’ll be a better team but it’s a little bit too late to try to piece things together and make an historic run. The Celtics are in that same category. Yes they have played better since Rondo has gone down but to make a serious playoff push without him is a bit farfetched. Barbosa is out as well and without these guys who can really push the ball the Celtics won’t be able to fully gain control of some games.

Early in the season it was even a question if they would make the playoffs or not but now we’re seeing a clear drop off from the 8th seed Milwaukee Bucks and the rest of the conference. Boston will have to really stink it up to miss the playoffs and let the Bucks surpass them and to let a team like Detroit Pistons or Toronto Raptors in. But that just won’t happen. At the bottom of the Eastern Conference it’s not really a horse race. It’s more like three snails trying to keep up with tortoise. In other words it’s not too competitive.


At the end of the day I think we’ll see a repeat of last year’s finals. The Miami Heat will Face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder and they will dismantle them like they have done time and time again. The West will be Hell to get through and OKC will earn more respect throughout the league for doing so, but In the end they will just fall short. Their up tempo game is good enough to get past those western teams but getting in that type of game with Miami is exactly what they want. They will stretch them out on offense, then force turnovers and cause frustration on defense. LeBron James has shown us why he’s the best player in the league and having a shot at winning a consecutive championship will only motivate him even more. KD will have his turn but right now it’s clear that LeBron and company are just too much to handle.

granger

Danny Granger made his first appearance of the year in the Pacers’ third meeting against the Pistons this season.  After shooting 1 of 10 from the field against their sub-par defense, as we expected,  he still has quite some time to fully get back into the swing of things. But I can say that I was pleased with some of the shots he took.  With time he will get back to playing like the Danny we’re all accustomed to seeing.

In his home debut against the Warriors the only thing that I was thinking about was the future of the team. After Paul George came down and knocked down a three right in the face of a defender and the production team cut to a view of the crowd all I saw was over joyous Pacer fans in #24 jersey’s.

The Warriors called a timeout and the look of confidence on Paul George’s face added fuel to the already ecstatic crowd. The more I look at Granger’s body language it’s clear that he knows his time in Indy is coming to an end and he’s not too happy about it. Once he gets more acclimated with the team things will be fine for the remainder of the year but i don’t see a scenario where he gets resigned. Maybe he’ll take less money but at this point who knows.

Many people are speculating when Granger will be put back into the starting unit. If it was up to me I would have a serious conversation with Danny and ask him about being a sixth man. The starting unit has built up a lot of chemistry together and so far it’s won them a lot of games. Offensively they struggle but the main issue is their bench production. I don’t think putting Lance Stephenson back on the bench to lead the second unit is the answer to your problems.

Paul George is blossoming into a star and splitting shots with Granger could slow down that development process. If Granger is coming off the bench with the second unit he will have more than half of the scoring duties with that scorer-less unit. Coming off the bench could be beneficial in many different areas for the Pacers. But that’s just my opinion on that. Coach Vogel has made it clear that at some point Granger will be back as a starter, just depends on the timing.

To throw a visual out there look at the lineup with Danny as a starter and you judge if having him come off the bench would be a bad thing.

Starters:

PG: George Hill SG: Paul George SF: Danny Granger PF: David West C: Roy Hibbert

2nd Unit:

PG: DJ Augustine SG: Lance Stephenson (With occasional minutes from Orlando Johnson) SF: Gerald Green/Sam Young??? PF: Tyler Hansbrough C: Ian Mahinmi

Or would you rather have Danny come in and score at will with that second unit that has deficiencies at the small forward position and a need for more bench scoring. If you look at championship teams in the past a lot of them had excellent bench production. The best example of that is the 2011 Dallas Mavericks. Even without Caron Butler in the starting lineup they still had enough bench production to defeat the Miami Heat in a tough series.

Sure you could leave Granger or Paul George in with the bench but having Granger with the second unit will allow both of them to have equal time to rest. Plus with Granger coming off a knee injury no one knows if he can defend elite players as well as he could before.

It’s clear that coach Vogel doesn’t have a lot of faith in Gerald Green seeing that he lost his minutes to Orlando Johnson and didn’t play for a stretch of nine games. Sam young is a tough defender who Vogel has no problem throwing on the opposing teams’ best player but offensively he’s a liability.

DJ Augustine has definently had his scoring woes all season and has yet to really prove that signing him was a good idea. There’s no one on that second unit that just pops out as a guy who can get the job done as the starters rest.

When it all comes down to it there’s no doubt in my mind that the Pacers will be fine. No matter where he is on the depth chart he’ll do more good than bad. I just see a sixth man role as being more beneficial to the team.

Having one of your best players come off the bench has worked for teams in years past like the San Antonio Spurs with Manu Ginobili and the Los Angeles Lakers back when Lamar Odom was playing at a high level.  It’s worked more recently with the Oklahoma City Thunder in last years championship run when they had James Harden. I can see this working for the Pacers if they were to do this.

If the Pacers’ front office knows that they have no intention on resigning Granger to a contract extension they should do what’s best for the team now.  If they had success with a Granger-less roster for 55 games  i see no problem with him coming in off the bench and giving a huge boost to that second unit. It may hurt his pride and take a shot to his ego but if he loves his teammates and the city of Indianapolis he should be willing to do whatever the organization thinks is best.

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In the Past few weeks I have been all for trading Granger, before that i was against it. Right now I’m back to being against it, kind of. If I go back and forth with my thoughts in this article it’s because this move could change everything. It could create a domino effect that I’m not sure we’ll be able to benefit from right away.

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As you all know, Paul George is becoming the new face of the franchise. He’s doing everything on the court that you could ask for. He’s scoring, rebounding, and has really found patience on the offensive end. Defensively he’s great too. But even with his scoring numbers up it’s still not enough to move the Pacers out of the 29th rank in scoring. Yeah… they’re close to dead last in points per game. Their record is truly a testament to how great their defense is rather than their offensive production.

With Danny coming back by the All-Star break it can only help them. When you’re the 29th ranked team in scoring there’s only room for improvement. Trading away a scorer and leader like Danny could be a bad thing. Also, lets not forget that he’s a good defender as well. There’s not many players on the market that can really fill his shoes and make an impact like he can. There’s talent out there but right now the Pacers need more than hopes.

If you trade Danny there’s no guarantee that whoever they get for him will stay in Indy. If a player does want to stay most likely they will want to get paid and the Pacers front office doesn’t just pay people for potential.

George Hill and Roy Hibbert got paid because they earned it. Hibbert may not be showing that this season but the fact of the matter is he show’s constant improvement and had the best season of his career. We saw how he can be a game changer.

The Pacers still have to resign David West at this moment no one knows what will happen with that. Next season they could lose Granger possibly and West. What will they have after that? Losing those two veteran leaders is a lot. But resigning both of them could be hard to do when you take salary cap space into consideration. Especially with this luxury tax coming into play for next season it will be hard for a lot of teams to keep certain players.

Bob Kravitz from the Indianapolis Star wrote a great piece on the Pacers being good but still having something missing. He feels that in order for them to really contend they will have to make some moves before this season’s trade deadline.

I agree with him when he says that they need a dynamic scorer off the bench, but at what cost?Would the Pacers even get enough back to have a great scorer off the bench? If they make a move it will either be hit or miss. I don’t see too many players with great upside going to Indy.

Just as Kravitz said in his article, move Tyler Hansbrough, and make Gerald Green available. I don’t agree with him when he says trade Lance Stephenson, but we can agree to disagree on that.

The one thing that we are both saying is keep Granger at all cost. Paul George is blossoming into a star but their leader is without a doubt still Danny. George has stepped up and took leadership as most players should do when the top dog is out, but the true leader of that squad is Danny. They’re close to contention and getting rid of Danny now would be a huge mistake

The Houston Rockets have been in all the trade rumors when it comes to acquiring Granger. Unless Houston is willing to let James Harden and Chandler Parsons go there’s no one on that roster that is worth trading for.

But we all know Harden isn’t going anywhere for a long time. I mentioned other players in my article, “Potential Moves For The Indiana Pacers“, but realistically there’s not a lot of available players that can replace Danny and all of his intangibles.

If i were Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers General Manager, I would do everything in my power to keep Danny a Pacer and resign David West. I would hate trade Tyler Hansbrough because of the hustle and energy that he provides off the bench but they need to win now. Leave the starting lineup together and move players off of the bench. Trading Danny is not the answer.

The Indiana Pacers: #BeatTheHeat  <-(Click Here For Highlights)

On February 1st the leagues top two defensive teams faced off. When the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat play it’s always a physical game. Even before last year’s Eastern Conference Semi-finals they had intense games. The Heat took the first two season meetings, the first one was a crushing victory. The second game was one in overtime with a last second shot by Dwayne Wade. Most people will say that the Heat didn’t win the game but the Pacers lost it themselves.

The Pacers exposed a lot of the Heat’s flaws. Everyone knows that Miami is not the best rebounding team and that they lack depth and toughness in the front court. David West and company attacked the low post almost every time down the court. When West feels Shane Battier on his back it was almost an automatic bucket from there. Through three quarters West only missed one shot.

Another player who played big was Lance Stephenson. He may not be a household name but he is a guy who will try his hardest to out-hustle you. He’s an in-your-face defender and it looked like Wade and LeBron were not fully prepared for that. Throughout the game you could catch the two complaining to the ref about the physical play of Lance. They also got ticked off by Lance’s steady trash talking after plays and when he slapped the ball out of LeBron’s hands just for fun. At halftime he and Wade both had similar numbers so he had to be doing something right.

Paul George had a bigger night than what his numbers showed. He may be an all-star but the way the Pacer’s offense is ran, everyone is involved. He didn’t force anything at all during this game. Even with LeBron on him he was able to pick and choose his spots. On the defensive end he was solid as well. He had one series that showed his versatility on both ends of the court. After hitting a three he instantly intercepted a pass as soon as the ball came across half-court. That steal lead to a euro-step past a defender and into a two hand slam.

At one point in the game it looked like Indy was about to blow the lid off of their lead. It almost got out of hand. You could see the frustration in all the faces of all the Miami Heat players and coaching staff. There were two trips down the court where LeBron was slamming the ball while he was dribbling. It was just a really bad night night for them.

The Pacers laid the blueprint on how to beat them. Going forward i’m sure that teams with large, skilled big men will expose these flaws down low. Although Hibbert was a non factor on offense people around the organization still have faith that he will turn things around later in the season. If he wasn’t in such of a slump that game would’ve been worse for Miami.

The heat are actively searching for an anchor in the paint. They have recently signed Chris Anderson, better known as “Birdman”, to his second 10-day contract. His play has been pretty promising for them. He’s very athletic and provides great size for a team that’s lacking it. Miami may not need a dominant player in the post game on offense but they definently need a guy with size that can provide toughness and rebounding. The way their offense is set up it’s mostly drive and kick, or pick and pop with Bosh.

Expect to see many more great battles between these two ball clubs in the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if these teams met in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers are headed in the right direction and the Miami Heat will be the team to beat for some time. Basketball is back in Indiana and it’s a beautiful thing.