Indiana Pacers Season Preview

12 10 2008

My NBA Central Division preview continues with the Indiana Pacers:

Indiana Pacers

2007-08 Standings 36 – 46, 9th Eastern Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 25 – 57, 5th Central Division, 13th Eastern Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Jeff Foster, Troy Murphy, Danny Granger, Mike Dunleavy, TJ Ford

Sixth Man:  Marquis Daniels

Michael Dunleavy will have to develop into an All Star for the Indiana Pacers to taste success this season.

Michael Dunleavy will have to develop into an All Star for the Indiana Pacers to taste success this season.

November 19th 2004 is the date everything changed for the Indiana Pacers. Up to then the Pacers were one of the favourites for the NBA title. They had a championship calibre defence, they had a fearsome frontline of Jermaine O’Neal and Ron Artest, a future Hall of Famer in Reggie Miller, and one of the more enigmatic players in the NBA, Stephen Jackson. Then they played Detroit in the Palace of Auburn Hills and everything went to crap. The infamous Palace Brawl occurred and while the Pistons have seemingly shrugged off the effects, remaining one of the NBA’s premier teams, the Pacers have spiralled downwards, missing the playoffs for the past two years. This season will make it three.

It feels deeply unfair to Pacers fans that the Pistons have remained an excellent team despite retaining all but Ben Wallace from that fateful Brawl, while the Pacers have slumped despite stripping themselves of all the malcontents.

The Pacers have some talented players but none of them are remotely franchise level players. Danny Granger is a borderline All Star talent but their next best two players, Mike Dunleavy and TJ Ford, are more role players who you could see playing a role on a championship squad as the fourth or fifth option.

And then there is the ongoing effort to rid themselves of Jamaal Tinsley. At the time of writing he was still a Pacer despite efforts to trade him. Tinsley has outstayed his welcome in Indiana and like Stephon Marbury is a cancer eating at the team. Someone will most probably acquire him but it should be sooner rather than later.

In his place they acquired TJ Ford. They needed to give up O’Neal to get him but at this point it was in both party’s best interest to do so. Ford brings some classy point guard play though concerns remain about his fragility.

The Indiana Pacers need an injection of talent. Their team is good enough to be competitive on most nights but being competitive just brings heartache. They’re not good enough for the playoffs but seemingly are too good for the lottery.  It would probably break the hearts of the Pacer faithful but they should look to tank this season to get as high a draft pick as possible.


Jim O’Brien is the Indiana Pacers coach. Last season he did about the best he could with the talent at his disposal. This year the Pacers will struggle again and it wouldn’t surprise to see him fired.


Like their entire team the Pacers have a bench full of average NBA players. The unfortunate thing is that most of them are overpaid such as Rasho Nesterovic. Marquis Daniels is probably the best of the bunch but needs to develop a consistent outside shot. If he does then the Pacers might be better than expected.

Star Player:

Danny Granger is probably the best Pacer though Mike Dunleavy has his moments of brilliance. The Pacers remain a team in search of star power.

Team MVP:

Troy Murphy is probably the key to the Pacers. They desperately need him to be a reliable inside threat and live up to his large salary.

Final Prognosis:

The Pacers will struggle this season despite the addition of TJ Ford and expected subtraction of Jamaal Tinsley. It would be a major overachievement to match last year’s win total.


You can find an index of past Previews here.




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