Trade update: Indiana Pacers trade No. 53 pick Colton Iverson to Boston Celtics for cash considerations.
Areas of Strength
Assuming anchor David West returns at power forward and shooting guard Lance Stephenson continues to mature, the Pacers' starting lineup is as good as it gets, especially with Paul George rising beyond the ensemble level. Center Roy Hibbert dictates a style that few opponents can match, thanks to his size and (awkward but effective) skills.
The Pacers' issues in delivering and taking care of the ball were on full display in the conference finals against Miami. George Hill had to log too many minutes and D.J. Augstin was a disappointment in his one Indiana season. So help at point guard is important. So is outside shooting, an ingredient missing due to Granger's (mostly) season-long absence.
Two Stats That Matter
8-13 -- Indiana managed to win eight of the 21 games in which it shot worse than 40 percent from the floor thanks to its defense. It was 25-5 when the other guys shot that badly.
5.3 -- Increase in Paul George's scoring average, to go with a 2.0 boost in rebounds and 1.7 increase in assists as he became the fourth Indiana guy to be named NBA Most Improved Player. (Jalen Rose, Jermaine O'Neal and Danny Granger were the others.)
The Way To Go
Danny Granger might be a tradeable asset, if Indiana wants to move up in the first round or add another pick, but Pacers management seems eager to fold Granger's shooting into the mix it already has. Rare are No. 23 picks who come in and grab prominent roles on a title contender's bench, but that might be Indiana's best bet -- especially if he has a solid handle and can deliver a proper entry pass.
2012-13 Team Stats (points per 100 possessions, with NBA rank)
Offensive: 101.6 (19th)
Defensive: 96.6 (1st)
G: George Hill
G: Lance Stephenson
G: Orlando Johnson
G/F: Paul George
G/F: Gerald Green
F: Danny Granger
C: Roy Hibbert
C: Ian Mahinmi
C: Miles Plumlee
F: Tyler Hansbrough (restricted)
F: Jeff Pendergraph (restricted)
G: Ben Hansbrough
G: D.J. Augustin
G/F: Sam Young
F: David West
Recent Draft History
2012: Miles Plumlee (26)
2011: Kawhi Leonard (15), Davis Bertans (42)
2010: Paul George (10), Lance Stephenson (40), Ryan Reid (57)
2009: Tyler Hansbrough (13), A.J. Price (52)
2008: Jerryd Bayless (11), Nathan Jawai (41)
2007: No picks
2006: Shawne Williams (17), Alexander Johnson (45)
-- Steve Aschburner