I bleed blue and gold. I never miss a game. Never. This included the “down years,” but I am happy to report that we’re officially in the “up years.” After a spirited playoff run in 2011-12 that restored this city’s hope in their NBA franchise the sky is the limit.
Still, lots has changed and we would be naive not to think it could affect the team. Below is a rundown of five things to watch for this season.
1. Big Contracts = Big Results?: Two of our best players got paid this offseason. The franchise locked in both Roy Hibbert and George Hill for the forseeable future. The question is, do they continue their progression or drop it into neutral? The league is full of players who got big contracts and promptly regressed. Will that be the case for Mr. Area 55 and our hometown hero?
2. Giving the Keys to #24: Danny Granger is out and it doesn’t look like he is coming back any time soon. If ever there was a time for Paul George to step up, it is now. Unfortunately we saw the young man shrink under the spotlight in last years playoff series with Miami. With a full season to ease into this new role Paul George has an opportunity to show what he’s made of.
3. A New Unit: Who are these guys? That’s the question many fans will be asking the first month of the season. Of the ten guys projected to be on the court nearly half are new. So, will this group – Gerald Green, DJ Augustine, Sam Young, Ian Mahinmi – be an upgrade to those we let walk? That will be the difference between championship contender and the status quo.
4. Growing Up: While I mentioned Paul George previously there are two other players who, should they mature, could make big impacts. I’m talking Lance Stephenson and Gerald Green. They both ooze talent, but their development has been marred by a lack of maturity. Will they grow up and realize their potential or will we spend the season shaking our heads? Lets hope for the former.
5. Carrying the Weight: In my opinion, the best acquisition the Pacers have made in the last ten years is David West. His leadership, focus and professionalism were exactly what this team needed. Coming off a knee surgery he seemed to get better as last season wore on. Now that he has a clean bill of health, can he carry this crew while the above issues work themselves out?
It’s going to be exciting to see the Pacers evolve over the season, and there is no better place to watch than live at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse. I’ll be there Saturday night as they tip off the season against Sacramento and you should too. Now, more than ever, this team needs our support. Get your Gold Swagger and Pacers Tickets here.