Indiana Pacers: 5 Things To Watch As Preseason Tips Off
5 Things to Watch for During the Preseason
Preseason is not usually a term many sports fans like to hear. It’s that awkward time between the offseason and the regular season where teams play one another, but the games don’t count. On top of that, there is a chance that the best players sit out or hardly play, so fans are not receiving a great return on their investment. But, the NBA preseason is also the first chance fans have to evaluate their team’s upcoming season.
If your team had a total makeover during the offseason -- I'm talking to you Brooklyn and Boston fans --- then you get a chance to see how a completely new team functions. If your team made just slight changes - Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers fans know what I mean -- then it’s your first chance to see how the new additions meld with the holdovers from last season.
Each teams begins the preseason with storylines, either carried over from last season or earned from their offseason moves. It’s those storylines that make the preseason worth watching, especially when the storylines revolve around players returning from injury, or big name players playing their first game with their new team.
While the Indiana Pacers didn’t make any big splashes in free agency or completely revamp their entire team, they still head into the preseason with plenty of storyline. What should Pacers fans be watching for during the preseason? Let’s find out.
Danny Granger's Health
All eyes will be on Danny Granger during the Pacers preseason, as he makes his triumphant return to the hardwood after only playing five games last season. Granger was upfront about his progress during the Pacers Media Day, saying his knees were not 100 percent healthy and that it could take some time to get to that point. But preseason basketball will be his first real chance to see how they hold up. He looked good in the five games he played last season, so there shouldn’t be a huge drop off, but his playing time will be limited to begin with.
Solomon Hill Trying to Earn Playing Time
The Pacers added depth to their small forward position when they drafted Solomon Hill this past summer. According to Paul George, Hill is already making believers out of the organization.
"He plays the game beyond his years. He can do everything. He can defend, he can shoot the ball, he can create for himself, he can rebound. I think he'll surprise some people”.
It will be tough for Hill to work his way into the main rotation, but if George’s observations are correct, then Pacers fans could see more of Hill than originally expected. Luckily for Hill, he will get the next month to prove himself in game situations.
Lance Stephenson Leading the Second Unit
With Danny Granger returning, it’s a foregone conclusion that Lance Stephenson will return to the bench. However, Stephenson will not return to the end of the bench. As the Pacers new sixth man, Stephenson will continue to mesh with the starting unit he played with last year, and also become the leader of the second unit. It will be a big task for him, no question, but it’s a contract season, and Stephenson will need to prove that last season was not a fluke.
Revamped Pacers Bench
The Pacers bench was atrocious last season, which is exactly why Larry Bird decided to revamp it. He signed C.J. Watson, Donald Sloan and Chris Copeland, then traded for Luis Scola. Add Lance Stephenson and Ian Mahinmi to the second unit, and the Pacers have a bench that could hold their own against some starting lineups, on paper anyways. This preseason will be the first opportunity to see how the bench performs together. If head coach Frank Vogel can get them playing like a first unit, then the sky’s the limit for the Pacers.
Frank Vogel's Coaching Decisions
The Pacers had a chance to take Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, until head coach Frank Vogel decided to bench his best defender. The rest, they say, is history. Vogel’s gaffe wasn’t his first and surely won’t be his last, but he needs to keep his bad decisions to a minimum, and try not to make them during crucial points of a game. He will also need to work out a solid rotation. It felt like he wasn’t comfortable with his rotations at times last season, and you could tell it caused problems on the court. With new players this year, it will be even more crucial to get his lineup set and stick to it. The preseason is a perfect time to get all the mistakes out of the way before the games count.