With all the discussions about tanking recently, it’s fitting that the Raptors met, and lost to, the Indiana Pacers Monday night.
Since “the brawl” and Indiana’s plunge from being one of the better teams in the league, the Pacers have picked 17, 17, 11, 13, 10 and 15. No pick higher than 10, and none lower than 17. They remained somewhat competitive throughout that time, even making the playoffs once. They did it by surrounding their picks with veterans. And now they have the third best record in the East and are most likely looking at home court advantage in the first round. To some, they might point to the Pacers as an example of how to rebuild while remaining competitive, right?
Well, it depends on how you view the Pacers.
If you simply take their regular season success, then Larry Bird has done a fantastic job. But the fact is that Indiana never drafted high enough to be able to select a true star, but instead has populated his team with good, but not great players. In some ways, they’re like a poor man’s Detroit Pistons team, that won a Championship in 2004 without a true franchise player. On the other hand, they’re like a poor man’s Detroit Pistons, in much the same way Andrea Bargnani is a poor man’s Dirk Nowitzki.
Detroit’s success was lightening in a bottle, and something I will write about in the next week.
Right now, the Pacers are basically the new Atlanta Hawks. A good regular season team whose ceiling is pretty much the second round. In the NBA, your team only goes as far as your best player, and the Pacers best player is a borderline All-Star.
Unless Paul George turns into a franchise player, if the Pacers want to see what their future is like, just take a look at the Hawks.
Speaking of Paul George, am I the only one who expected a breakout season from him this season? Maybe he’s still a year away, but I expect George to be Indiana’s best player in a couple of years. He was a guy I had hoped the Raptors would have been able to snag in the draft, but instead got Ed Davis.
The guy doesn’t seem to have any real flaws in his game. He can shoot, handle the ball, create his own shot, pass, and defend.
And speaking of Ed Davis, he again plays well in very limited minutes, which makes me wonder about his future on the team. Even with Bargnani out, Dwayne Casey only played him 17 minutes, despite putting up a double-double and filling up the stat sheet.
He’s definitely been a major disappointment this year, but I think the team needs to see what they have with him before they decide whether on not to move him.
How many times has Jack Armstrong mentioned that the “clock’s tickin'” on Alan Anderson? I think he’s literally mentioned it every single game Anderson has played. Of course, he used the same “Pauly D is a modern day Socrates” comment two games in a row, so he’s obviously running out of material during a long, losing season.
Truth be told, I have absolutely no idea who Pauly D is and I don’t care in the least.
I’ve been accused by a reader of caring more about defense than offense, which is not true. I simply feel that everyone needs to play defense, whereas you can get away with only a few scorers. Unfortunately for the Raptors I feel that those scorers should also be able to defend. The fact is that the three best offensive players the Raptors have are also their worst defenders, and I don’t think you can win consistently with that.
And the fact is that while defense needs to come from everywhere, offense can come from anywhere, and this game against Indiana is proof of that. Alan Anderson had a big scoring night, as did Linus Kleiza and even Amir Johnson chipped in with good scoring. Not one of those guys is normally one of the Raptor’s top 2 or 3 scorers, yet they were 1, 2 and 3 in a game where the Raptors scored 98 points against a good defensive team. One big reason was because Jose Calderon was on the floor, getting everyone good shots.
In other news around the NBA, the Dallas Mavericks allowed Lamar Odom to leave the team indefinitely. They gave up a first round pick and a trade exception (which could prove valuable) and are paying him $8.9 million this season. I’ve always thought highly of Lamar Odom‘s game, but I have to say I’m shocked something like this didn’t happen years ago. He’s always had All-NBA talent, with the drive of Derrick Coleman.
In other, somewhat related news, Perry Jones III has put his name in for the NBA draft…