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Mark's Mailbag: Figuring Out the Rotation

by Mark Montieth | askmontieth@gmail.com

October 10, 2013

Editor's Note: Have a Pacers-related question for Mark? Want to be featured in his mailbag column? Send your questions to Mark on twitter at @MarkMontieth or by email at askmontieth@gmail.com.

Q. (George Hill's) willingness to be a more vocal leader has to be a huge plus for the team on the court, right? Especially as "point" guard.

- Tom (via Twitter)

A. According to those who watch practice each day, Hill has been a more vocal leader so far. That hasn't been easy for him, because he's by nature a fairly quiet person, and he's been reluctant to accept the role of point guard. He came up playing shooting guard, and now calls himself, simply, a guard. He doesn't want to be considered a true point guard, because he believes it downplays his scoring ability. We've seen games in the past where he wasn't assertive enough, so the Pacers wouldn't mind at all if he steps forward more this season.

I wrote in a recent blog that one veteran of the Pacers front office said Hill has “taken a step” in training camp. He meant as a player and a leader.

Q. I'd like to start by saying that I really enjoy reading your articles on Pacers.com and I'd like to say thanks for always allowing fans like me to ask questions.

My question regards the Pacers uniforms. I've been a fan of the team since I was a boy growing up in the 90's when the team wore the pinstripes. This past season I became a season ticket holder and got to see the team wear the throwbacks a time or two, and the guys look great in them. Is there and chance that the pinstripes could become the uniform again?

- Andrew

A. I don't think they'll go back to the pinstripes as the standard home uniform. That seems to be the most popular uniform, at least among fans of your age group, but teams never go backward in that regard. That doesn't mean they won't break them out from time to time, though

There's still a uniform design or two that hasn't been used as a retro, so maybe there are more possibilities. The current design has been in use for awhile, so it also seems we aren't far from a new one. I haven't heard of any discussion about that, though.

Q. Hi Mark, love ur work, plz tell us in Mailbag ur view who is 1st 5 starters, & 2nd 5 backups 4/ 2013 season w/ current 13plyrz

- Text 2 Much

A. If I interpret your question correctly, you want to know who will start for the Pacers this season, and who the first five off the bench will be.

Obviously, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, David West and George Hill are locked in. The remaining spot will be filled by either Lance Stephenson or Danny Granger, although coach Frank Vogel did mention in passing one day that the coaches had discussed starting Solomon Hill and bringing both Stephenson and Granger off the bench. I doubt that will be the case, however.

Really, the answer to the Granger-Stephenson “issue” will be answered by Granger's knee, which underwent surgery in April. Vogel has stated that if he regains his pre-knee level of play – in other words, his All-Star form – he will start. I've also thought all along that Granger deserves the first shot at the starting lineup if he's healthy, not only because of his history with the franchise, but the fact he should be a better player than Stephenson at the moment. I also believe it's more important to Granger to start than it is to Stephenson, and that could factor into Vogel's decision.

Ultimately, the answer probably will become obvious over time. If Granger isn't the player he once was, or if Stephenson has improved that much, or whatever, we'll all see it. I suppose it's also possible that it won't make that much difference, that both will play starter minutes and contribute equally as starters or reserves.

Aside from his health, the major question regarding Granger is whether he can fit into the lineup. The team he rejoins is much different than the one he left at the end of the 2011-12 season, and he'll need to adjust his game. Namely, he'll have to rebound and defend better than he's done in the past. Although, one could argue that he could get away with merely focusing on scoring if the other four guys are taking care of the dirty work.

The reserve unit probably will vary, depending on the opponent. Either Granger or Stephenson likely will play the lead role. Luis Scola will get major minutes as a power forward or, in some games, center. C. J. Watson will be the backup point guard. After that, it gets murky. Chris Copeland, Solomon Hill, Ian Manhimi and Orlando Johnson all will get opportunities, but obviously can't all get significant minutes in each game. Vogel will have plenty of pieces for his 82 chess matches this season. The nature of the opponent and injuries will determine who plays many nights, but the (theoretically) improved bench depth does pose a potential problem: players unhappy with their sedentary lifestyle.

Q. I love the Pacers’ acquisition of Luis Scola. He is a smart player who takes good shots and grabs rebounds on both ends of the court. He reminds me of Detlef Schrempf. Do you think Scola can make that kind of impact?

- Greg

A. Interesting comparison. Scola should be extremely valuable to the Pacers, and in my opinion was a great acquisition despite what they had to give up for him, but I don't see him as a Schrempf-like sub. Schrempf, as you know, was voted Sixth Man of the Year in 1991 and '92 with the Pacers, and played in the All-Star game in '93. I don't see Scola achieving those heights, if for no other reason than his age. He's 33. Schrempf was 26 when the Pacers acquired him and a second-round draft pick from Dallas for Herb Williams, in one of Donnie Walsh's all-time best transactions.

Q. Do you think (Solomon Hill) will backing up Paul George/Danny Granger at the 3? Room for rook to play?

- Tom (via Twitter)

A. It seems there will be room, although he's trying to squeeze into a crowded space. Hill is a mature player, even for a four-year collegian, who should always be able to find a way to contribute. He seems to have no weaknesses, although someone recently wrote that he has no outstanding strengths, either. That might be true, although he has the potential to become a great shooter based on his summer league play and what I've seen in practice and post-practice shootarounds. Regardless, I believe he can make an impact as a rookie.

Q. I live in Michigan, grew up going to Pacer games at the Fairgrounds. I've heard great things about the (Roger Brown) documentary, but haven't been able to find it, watch it, our buy it. Do you know of a way for me to get legitimate access to it in some way? I'm willing to buy it.

- Keith

A. Ted Green, who produced and narrated the documentary, is working to make the DVD available for sale, but so far it's not. I have to believe it will happen, as it's a quality product and has a marketplace. In the meantime, you can email Ted at tedgreeniv@gmail.com. If anyone can give you legitimate access to it, he can. Perhaps you can arrange a private purchase. Like, maybe, meet in front of the Coliseum under the cover of darkness and get it done. Wear sunglasses and a trench coat, though, so nobody recognizes you.

Ted is currently working on a documentary on Slick Leonard, by the way. He recently flew to Los Angeles to interview Jerry West and Elgin Baylor for the project.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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