Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Team Breakdown: Indiana Pacers

Although the Pacers have one of the NBA's rising stars and top fantasy players in Danny Granger, there are still a lot of questions regarding who the Pacers will surround him with. Let's take a look at the current make up of the team.

Center: Roy Hibbert

Hibbert will once again be the Pacers' man in the middle. With only Jeff Foster and, possibly, Tyler Hansbrough to back him up, the center spot is all his. The only thing that can hold Hibbert back is his foul problems. This could be a great year for Hibbert if he can keep his fouls down and play somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 minutes a game.

Power Forward: Troy Murphy

Murphy has been great the last 2 seasons, offering up the rare combination of a player who can give you a double-double in points and rebounds while being a great source of threes. There's been talk of Murphy getting traded this year, probably closer to the trade deadline. He'll be Indiana's starting PF for as long as he's there. Murphy could have an especially good year since this is the last year of his contract.

Depending on who the Pacers receive in exchange for Murphy, players like Hansbrough or Josh McRoberts could see a boost to their value if Troy gets moved. Murphy is a good player to target this year, even if he does end up getting traded. His skill set and ability to stretch the floor will ensure he gets his stats regardless of the team he ends up with. I would also consider Hansbrough a sleeper if he's healthy going into the season due to the possibility of Murphy being traded. He could also see additional minutes at center this year due to Jeff Foster's recent injury troubles.

Small Forward: Danny Granger

Granger will obviously be the team's star and he'll see nearly 40 minutes a game. Granger, though, has missed between 15-20 games in each of the last 2 seasons. If he were to get injured again, it will be interesting to see whether veteran Mike Dunleavy or rookie Paul George would assume the bulk of Granger's minutes.

Shooting Guard: Brandon Rush

Shooting guard, along with point guard, are wide open right now for Indiana. Rush was the starter last season, but he'll have competition from Dunleavy, George, Dahntay Jones, and Lance Stephenson for minutes. This is a situation that requires close attention during training camp and preseason. Even when a rotation is set, it seems that things could get shuffled at any time during the season if one of these players struggles.

The Pacers were fortunate to draft two high quality rookies, but this has further muddled the picture for fantasy owners. I would recommend only taking a chance on these wing players in deep leagues as there's no guarantee any of them are going to have a consistent role on the team throughout the season.

Point Guard: T.J. Ford

Seeing as last year's starter, Earl Watson, is unlikely to return, the Pacers may reluctantly have to put T.J. Ford into the starting line up. Much like SG, the PG minutes could change at any point in the season if Ford, or the team in general, struggles and coach Jim O'Brien decides to give youngsters A.J. Price and Lance Stephenson additional playing time. Ford is also injury prone, so that just gives us another reason to take caution before drafting him. Still, keep in mind that Ford could end up having a good year simply because he's the only proven veteran PG on the team. We'll have to wait and see how the rotation ends up, but I would only look at Ford with a pick around 175 or higher and Price and Stephenson would only be draftable in the late rounds of a deep draft.

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