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A Green Light Waiting At The Intersection Of Possibility And Reality

by Conrad Brunner || Caught in the Web Archive

January 24, 2011

(From L) Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Granger, Darren Collison, Roy Hibbert, Paul George. (NBAE/Getty Images)

Take a long look at the picture on the right, because it is the future. And it's coming soon.

As the Pacers reach the midpoint of the 2010-11 season, they clearly are not where they hoped. With a 16-25 record, Indiana is tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference, one of five tightly bunched teams separated by just 2½ games competing for the final two playoff berths.

And there they are: a rookie (Paul George), two second-year players (Darren Collison and Tyler Hansbrough), a third-year center (Roy Hibbert) and Danny Granger, the relative senior citizen of the bunch at the ripe old age of 27.

Four of the five presently are starting. George isn't in the lineup yet but appears headed in that direction. He started the second half in Denver Sunday night, which doesn't necessarily mean he's about to be promoted, but neither does it discourage the discussion.

George's productivity since his return to the rotation has been impressive (8.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, .569 shooting in 14.7 minutes in the last 11 games) while both of the starters at the wing position opposite Granger (Brandon Rush and Mike Dunleavy) have been erratic, and neither has made a move to lock down the job.

Hansbrough, the newest member of the lineup, also has had his share of impressive moments, including the career-high 27 points and 10 rebounds in Denver. He has averaged 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in 23.4 minutes since becoming a starter nine games ago.

I'm not sure if a team with a lineup so young can make the playoffs. I am sure, looking to the near and long terms, those five represent the best the Pacers have to offer and it's imperative to begin to find out just what that means.

This has been a wildly, maddeningly inconsistent team. Some nights, it's turnovers. Some nights, it's rebounding. Some nights, it's offense. Some nights, it's defense. Every night, it seems, it's something different.

That is the trademark of youth: to tease with possibility and frustrate with reality.

But one day in the not-too-distant future, the Pacers will reach the intersection of possibility and reality. From what I've seen, there's a green light waiting.