Indiana Pacers: Most underrated and unappreciated team in the NBA

Posted: March 27, 2012 by vindanton in Pro Sports

By: Vin D’Anton

Photo Courtesy AP

The NBA is a superstar driven league and that most likely isn’t going to end very soon…well probably never. But while teams like the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets are scrapping to find every superstar they can to put them over the top, the team that is probably third on the totem pole in their home state is building a team their own way.

Sports fans, and even the casual NBA fan probably have no idea that the team with the fifth best record in the Eastern Conference is the Indiana Pacers.

Take five seconds and name one player on the team…GO!

How’d you do? None? Thought so.

Their General Manager is more famous then their players; Hall of Famer Larry Bird. Bird has put together a group of players that are striving to get better each and every day…young or old.

The Pacers have a team that plays as one; that one equals a superstar that can shoot, rebound, and play defense. This “superstar” has given the Pacers their first winning season since 2004-2005.

This team has been assembled by Bird, who has spent the last three years developing players drafted no higher than 10th overall and freeing up cap space, while investing in 2011-2012 Coach of the Year candidate Frank Vogel.

His personality has rubbed off on his team. The Wildwood, NJ native was a three year starter for the basketball team at Juniata College, but transferred to Kentucky his senior year to play JV ball and be a student manager. The move paid off for the now 38 year old first year head coach.

The on court leadership starts with David West, a 31-year old who was a free agent with offers from contenders like the Boston Celtics. West, who averaged just under 20 points a game with the New Orleans Hornets, chose Indiana.

Bird and the Pacers signed him to a two year $20 million dollar contract, even thought he blew his knee out last year; but his hard work and determination has spread throughout the locker room that consists of mostly young players.

Danny Granger: The 17th overall pick in the 2005 Draft. The 2009 NBA All-Star who led the team in scoring the past two seasons is having his worst season shooting percentage wise thus far, but comes up big whenever the team needs him. Plus, it does go down when you add more talent and can spread the wealth.2011-12 Season stats: 18 PPG, 4.80 RPG, 54 steals.

 Paul George: 10th overall pick in 2010 Draft. A raw player that Bird and Vogel know is a process but see big things in the 21 year old’s future. 2011-12 stats: 12.1 PPG, 107 Assists, .398 3pt%, 79 steals (9th in league).

Roy Hibbert: The Georgetown superstar was drafted 17th overall by the Toronto Raptors in the 2008 NBA Draft, but was then traded the same day to Indiana in a multi-player deal for Jermaine O’Neal. Hibbert is coming into his own in Indy, reaching his first All-Star game this season. 2011-12 stats: 13.1 PPG, 433 rebounds, 88 blocks (8th in league). He also is the self-proclaimed best “big-man passer in the league right now.”

Darren Collison: 21st overall pick in 2009 by the Hornets, then traded to Indiana in August 2010. A film room rat, Collison is developing into an explosive point guard and the coaching staff adores him. ’11-12 stats: 10.8 PPG, 228 assists, .433 FG%, 3.30 RPG.

George Hill: 26th overall pick in 2008 draft by the Spurs, he learned a lot in that defensive system and carried it over to Indy. He was traded to the Pacers during this year’s draft. ’11-12 stats: 33 GP, 9.5 PPG, 76 Defensive rebounds, 32 steals, .467 FG%, .420 3pt%

Tyler Hansbrough: A larger than life star at UNC, Hansbrough was doubted coming into the league, being labeled undersized. He was the 13th overall pick in the 2009 draft. ’11-12 stats: 9.5 PPG, 220 rebounds and averaging 4.6 a game, .410 FG%.

…And finally West, whose unselfishness has also spread. A lot player’s shift positions during the game, and West moves to center when Hansbrough enters the game. ’11-12 stats: 11.9 PPG, 6.80 RPG, .466 FG%. Note: he hasn’t missed one game this year after knee surgery.

The Pacers probably will not win the NBA Finals this year, but they know how to beat good teams, especially on the road; they’ve won at Dallas, the Lakers, Chicago, Orlando and Boston.

Yesterday, they finally beat the Heat in Indy, a big win for this young team coming into their own…but how will they fair in the playoffs?

  1. Christian Fazzini says:

    Completely agree.

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