Pacers Preview: Shroud of Mystery

Who am I? I’m Adam Best, co-director of the FAN-Sided Blogs network and blogger/writer. I’m the lead writer over at Arrowhead Addict, but now I’ll also be over here from time to time covering the Indiana Pacers. Even though I grew up in Missouri, I’m a life-long die-hard Pacers fan. For more on that, check out these links:

It’s good that you know me now, but who are the Pacers?

That there is a heck of a question.

The answer is that we don’t really know the identity of the 2007-08 Pacers yet. Actually, we are completely in the dark. Personally, I think the Pacers will be better than they were last year.

First off, the team had tuned out head coach Rick Carlisle. That much was obvious. Jim O’Brien is a highly respected head coach whose playing style and personality are a much better fit for this group of players. You’ve gotta love a coach who says:

“I’m totally committed to the game of basketball — at a level that’s downright scary.”

Murphy and Dunleavy (Detroit Bad Boys)Next, the Golden State imports have settled in. By this, I mostly mean Mike Dunleavy. I expect the rail-thin sharpshooter to have a breakout season. He not only has his coach’s confidence, but it also seems that he’s regained his own swagger. Troy Murphy – Jr.’s brother in slow, white and goofy looking — is a role player. A good one at that, but nothing more. I like Ike Diogu — I think we all do — but he won’t be able to start as long as Jermaine O’Neal is still around. Again, Dunleavy is the real difference maker out of this group. Expect him to be in the NBA’s top ten in threes attempted and made, as O’Brien has instructed him to fire at will.

Also, the system really benefits guys like Jamaal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels — players who thrive in the open court. I expect both of those guys to have better campaigns than last year. I know many of you think that Jamaal should have been shipped out, but let’s give him this one last shot with a system that really fits him.

Danny Granger is another reason to be optimistic. Quite often in pro sports, third-year players break out. Let’s hope that’s the case for the ultra-athletic, mild-mannered Jehovah’s witness out of New Mexico.

As far as offseason additions, it’s difficult to get too pumped up about Kareem Rush and Travis Diener. On the other hand, I like them both. Both guys can shoot the lights out, and the Pacers will need those kinds of guys for O’Brien’s system to work.

We all know what we can expect from Jeff Foster and David Harrison — rebounds and fouls, respectively. Foster is also a vastly underrated defender, something that ESPN stat man John Hollinger has often pointed out.

Shawne Williams is the only key contributor I haven’t touched on. He had a fantastic preseason, but, unfortunately, he now has to sit out three games due to suspension. If he can keep his head on straight, the kid will be a player. His development could also allow the Pacers to trade O’Neal before the break.

Speaking of J.O., it hurts me to write this, but I think his days as a Pacer are numbered. We have a logjam of frontcourt players, and he is the most valuable trade commodity. Besides, it would be stupid to trade either Diogu, Granger or Williams, as most of us believe that those three players are the Pacers’ future. O’Neal’s tradevalue will reach its apex at the trade deadline, when some team eager to give its championship a shot in the arm will try to bring in the perennial All-Star. This will definitely be a situation to keep an eye on.

The other thing I want to mention is the Pacers 6-2 preseason record. This is a fantastic omen, as teams that win six-plus preseason games typically are playoff bound. For more on that, go here, here and here.

Season Predictions:

Overall record: 42-40

Team MVP: Danny Granger

Most Improved: Marquis Daniels/Mike Dunleavy (tie)

Biggest Disappointment: Jamaal Tinsley

Traded: Jermaine O’Neal

Playoffs: 7th seed, eliminated first round

Stay tuned for more on the Pacers, and definitely more on Colts-Pats X.

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Tags: 2007-08 Indiana Pacers Naptown's Finest Season Preview

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