The Indiana Pacers are among the elite teams in the Eastern Conference, and while they are generally portrayed as a strong “team” that lacks star power, the Pacers’ starting unit is plenty useful in the fantasy world.
PG- George Hill: 64th overall, 20th PG
The Pacers gave him more minutes (18.2 percent more than any other season) and were handsomely rewarded with a very solid campaign. With George and Hibbert emerging, I expect Hill to continue his progression from distance and approach 2.0 3-pointers made per game, giving him great value for a point guard.
He was impressive last season and with a healthy Granger, I expect the Pacers’ offense to be even better than last season, thus increasing Hill’s upside. At 27 years of age, Hill is a well-rounded PG (I’m projecting 6.5 assists, four rebounds and one steal per game) who is only going to get better.
SG – Paul George: seventh overall, third SG
I don’t care what people say, this man is a stud. His career progression ranks favorably to that of LeBron James at this point and if I’m drafting in the middle of the first round, I have no problem building my roster around Indiana’s pace-setter.
Granger returning to the roster will serve as a compliment, helping attract defensive attention but not cutting into George’s overall fantasy production. By making more than two 3- pointers per game and shooting 80-plus percent from the free throw line, George has every offensive tool you could ask for, not to mention that he is widely regarded as an elite defender.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see him approach 3.0 stocks (steals plus blocks, courtesy of Grantland) and thus cementing himself as a fantasy first-rounder for years to come.
SF – Danny Granger: 76th overall, 20th SF
Health is a major concern for Granger and could potentially result in him being rested at some points, but I don’t doubt that he still has very much left in the tank. He was in the NBA spotlight at a young age, thus resulting in fans labeling him as an older player in fantasy drafts this year.
He may be 30 years old, but in terms of basketball years, he is relatively young (did you know that he has made 560 fewer starts than LeBron James?) and should still be in his physical prime. Any player that is one year removed from averaging 19 points, five rebounds, and two 3-pointers with solid percentages is worth a sixth/seventh-round selection, as long as you limit the risk with your first handful of picks.
PF – David West: 63rd overall, 26th PF
He found his niche last season and thrived in the patient Pacers offense (+4.3 points and +1.1 rebounds per game from his 2011 averages). He’s always been an ultra efficient player, and I think his high-low connection with Hibbert is a huge plus for his fantasy value.
I’m looking for West to set a career high in assists per game in addition maintain his 16-plus points per game, a nice skill set given his later draft position. For his career, West is averaging nearly a steal and block per game, giving him better defensive numbers than most players taken in the sixth round.
He’s not going to hurt you in any category and should be considered a safe option in the middle rounds. If you’re going to go for upside early (think Anthony Davis), selecting West is a savvy move to minimize your team’s downside.
C – Roy Hibbert: 29th overall, 10th C
The 7-foot-3 center emerged in the postseason and his defensive consistency is the anchor to his fantasy value (blocked shots per game has increased every season). I prefer drafting him as my second big man because he offers very different numbers than your standard big with a below-average counting numbers (11 points and seven rebounds) and FG percentage (44.8 percent last season) but a very solid FT percentage (74.1 percent).
I’ve got him as my 10th-rated center and believe that he can approach a double-double average for the first time in his career (like he has in the postseason over the last two years). If you can start your draft with consistent scoring options like Kyrie Irving and LaMarcus Aldridge, I have no problem spending your third round pick on the Pacers’ paint protector.