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Growing up in the Midwest part of the US, you’re raised a little different than other parts of the country. Nothing is to be handed to you; everything is hard work and earns your keep. The 2012-13 Indiana Pacers are a great showing of the city they represent. Having a group of players who are blue-collar, hard-working with no standout superstars or cantankerous prima donnas is such a rarity in the NBA. This is a group of guys who are focused on coming to work every day and just getting it done. The wins speak for themselves. The team has been improving drastically in recent years under the guidance of Larry Bird (whom I am still extremely critical of). As a home grown superstar himself, Larry chose to create a foundation of homegrown talent, rather than reaching out to poach stars in free agency.
With Larry Bird stepping down as the President of Basketball Operations, Donnie Walsh is stepping back into the position he held for 22 years before helping the New York Knicks get back to respectability over the past four seasons. This is the man who built the Indiana franchise returning to take the throne he spent his entire life building. Walsh holds a splendid basketball mind and has created some of the greatest teams in Pacers history. As well as, the best play in the boardroom; drafting the legendary Reggie Miller.
Tyler Hansbrough is entering the final season of rookie contract. This is no doubt a make or break year for Hansbrough with the Pacers, if he continues to focus on the fundamentals that’s made him successful thus far: rebounding, scoring, hustling after loose balls, whatever needs to be done, then his pockets will reflect his blue collar work ethic
One of the areas of concern is team leader Danny Granger; his basketball talent has never been in question but his ability to be a leader has always been in question. Granger, who will be entering his eighth year as a Pacer, may be surrounded by the most talented group of teammates in his entire career. When the Pacers took Granger in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft, the team was in a transition period, that they have just recently came out of. The transition period has expired and they are now a team to be considered serious playoff contenders.
Granger was thrown into a leadership role as a Pacer early in his career, becoming a full-time starter for the Pacers in his second season and was named as the NBA’s Most Improved Player and an All-Star two seasons later. The question remains to be answered how he will respond to being a part of a starting five that is one of the best units in the league, complete with a legit 7’2” center in Roy Hibbert, a legit 4 in David West , an absurdly tall and agile 2 in Paul George and a scoring PG in hometown hero George Hill.
Then when the second unit hits the floor DJ Augustin will lead a cast of hard-working role players that includes the backup guard along with Ian Mahinmi and Gerald Green. Lance Stephenson is a huge pick me up to that 2nd squad who will be able to log large amounts of minutes at the 2, while Hansbrough bangs on the boards and does the little things that count big.
The Pacers led by Frank Vogel MUST capitalize on their size advantage: the starting lineup is shockingly tall, with Hibbert measuring in at 7’2”, West at 6’9”, Granger at 6’8”, George at 6’8” and Hill at 6’2”. An advantage is only a true advantage if you can find a way to use it.