The Indiana Pacers took the Miami Heat to a seven-game series in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, and they went into the off-season with a major need for an improved bench. D.J. Augustin, Tyler Hansbrough, Ben Hansbrough, and Jeff Pendergraph all left this off-season, but the Pacers made a few moves that improved their roster and puts them in an even better place to compete in the East.
Solomon Hill was drafted with the 24th overall pick in the NBA Draft, and adds a very talented youngster to the team. He may not see too much playing time this year, but the entire Pacers’ organization has made it clear that if his number is called, he’s more than capable of stepping in and putting in good minutes. Hill is a very strong player who has good ball handling skills to go along with a solid three-point shot and great ability to get to the rim and finish. He does need to work on his turnover issues and mid-range game, but all-around he’s more than capable of playing a solid 10-15 minutes per game on any given night.
C.J. Watson and Donald Sloan were both signed as free agents to fill the void left by Augustin and Ben Hansbrough as the back-up point guards to George Hill. Watson can shoot the ball and is known as a solid scoring guard, which is one of the main areas that the Pacers struggled in last year. He’ll add solid three-point shooting and a point guard he’s able to put points on the board for the second unit. Sloan is a stronger guard as well, and has some good NBA experience. He’s not expected to get too much playing time, but he’ll perform well when called upon as well.
Chris Copeland was signed away from the New York Knicks in a move to bring in perimeter shooting. The Pacers played the New York Knicks in the second round of the NBA Playoffs last year, and Copeland gave them issues with his ability to knock down shots. Yet another need the Pacers had last year was perimeter shooting, and Copeland will spread the floor out very well for the dominant big men that the Pacers have, and will add the much needed perimeter shooting for them.
Luis Scola was the last piece that was acquired this past off-season. Indiana traded last years first round draft pick Miles Plumlee, a future first round pick, as well as Gerald Green to acquire Scola. The Pacers made it obvious that they are going all out to contend for a championship with this move, as they gave up a future first rounder and a guy that they were very high on in Plumlee.
Scola adds a great back-up power forward behind David West, which will give head coach Frank Vogel the ability to give West more minutes rest during the regular season. Last years back-up, Tyler Hansbrough, was inconsistent offensively all season, and they just could not count on him down the stretch in big games during the Heat series. Luis Scola adds a veteran presence with great post moves, a very good mid-range game, and a very high basketball IQ. There’s no doubt that the acquisition of Scola makes the Pacers even more dangerous than they were this past season where they forced a Game 7 in the ECF.
This off-season has been exactly what the Pacers needed, and you can expect them to have yet another special season. There is no way to predict whether they’ll take yet another step in the right direction and represent the East in the NBA Finals, but they certainly have very good odds just looking at things on paper.
Pacers’ Off-Season Grade: A