I really love Larry Bird. Like, irrationally. But I must say I scratch my dome at the way he is building these Indiana Pacers. I give him a pass for cleaning house after the Melee at Auburn Hills, but not so much of one that I can abide Josh McRoberts possibly receiving significant minutes in an NBA rotation. Either Bird knows something the rest of us don’t, or he remembers the games of Fred Roberts and Brad Lohaus fondly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not accusing anyone of preferring white players. Bird has assembled plenty of perfectly bad black players as well. Recent draft picks have been curious choices at best, and certain positions are stocked at the expense of others. Is there anything to like here, particularly in fantasy? What gives, Legend?
Turns out there are a few things to get excited over, and for them you can thank the genius of one Larry Bird. Bird actually won the summer in some ways, extracting Darren Collison from New Orleans and earning a lifetime pass from fantasy owners who loved Collison’s potential and were sick of the black hole that has been the Indiana PG spot for a while. I don’t need to rehash the numbers. Collison was stupidly tremendous with a side of bacon last year. But we all knew Chris Paul would be back looking for his old job, and Indiana looks like the perfect landing for Collison. He will run this up-tempo system and should put up monster digits. Fourth round? Sure, and late third if you are feeling confident.
Didn’t I say there were a few things to get excited over? I did, didn’t I. Give me a minute… oh! Right. The Pacers have a first-round pick in Danny Granger! Of course, he’s the first-round pick who carries with him the biggest injury risk. When healthy, Granger is arguably the fourth-best fantasy hoopster out there. Anything approaching 75 games and you have a steal. I also like Roy Hibbert this year, and not just by default. Hibbert should be a big part of the Pacer offense. He’s a nice No. 2 center option in fantasy leagues this year, as the half-court offense should run through him and he approaches two blocks per game with more minutes. Hibbert needs to stay out of foul trouble and grab more rebounds to take that next step.
The rest of the roster is to be avoided in fantasy unless you play in a deep league. Tyler Hansbrough will have every opportunity to contribute, but until we see even one category that he can excel in at this level, don’t reach for him. Brandon Rush is capable of some nice box score outbursts. He’s a late-round sleeper, but he has to earn playing time among a sea of wings and is suspended for the first five games of the year. Mike Dunleavy will also get drafted late, and he could grab his old role of complementary scorer to Granger if he is fully healthy. But Dahntay Jones is going to get his minutes, and the Pacers drafted a wing in Paul George and added another in James Posey. I used to think “stomach-churning” was a cliche, but I swear mine just churned. At least we know Collison is in little danger of losing his starting job to the eminently-disappointing T.J. Ford, the initially-similar A.J. Price, or the girlfriendingly-pushy Lance Stephenson.
PG – Darren Collison, T.J. Ford
SG – Mike Dunleavy, Dahntay Jones
SF – Danny Granger, Brandon Rush
PF – Tyler Hansbrough, Josh McRoberts
C – Roy Hibbert, Solomon Jones
Up Next: Portland Trail Blazers