Portland Trailblazers @ Indiana Pacers
Wednesday, December 9
7:00 PM EST
We now know that Danny Granger is going to miss up to 6 weeks with his foot issue and perhaps be well below 100% for even longer. The season is, in short, not looking good.
Still, regardless of whether or not the Granger/MDJ-led Pacers were able to eek out an 8th seed just to lose to the Celtics, Cavs or Magic in the playoffs, the main purpose of this season is — and has been — to evaluate the players who may be still be with the franchise two years from now when, you know, the squad will hopefully once again be a relevant NBA team. The Larry Bird brain trust needs to figure out what exactly they have here. Is there some real talent here or not?
So, in some ways (watch as I desperately grasp at this straw) this injury will help speed up the talent evaluation process. The young guys will have to play more simply out of necessity and this trial by fire will theoretically help the front office see what the young players are capable of. Will anyone step up to handle some of the scoring load? Will anyone do anything of note with these extra minutes?
Is Brandon Rush capable of consistently showing any of the flashes of NBA potential he had last May? Can Roy Hibbert ever be the type of double team-demanding center you can build an offense around? Is Tyler actually sniffing blow during the game or is he just naturally that squirrely and active? (I kid. Tyler might be the one guy we already have a pretty good idea about — he’s gonna be a solid if unspectacular pro.) Was the Dahntay Jones of November just a mirage? Can Solomon Jones develop an adequate enough court awareness to allow his athleticism and shotblocking ability to stay on the court? Is TJ Ford capable of leading the league in jump-pass turnovers?
OK, we already know the answer to that last one and, sure, it’s not particularly relevant to the TJ-less future. But the other ones are decent questions.
It’s December — which is when the NBA season actually starts, contrary to popular overreaction about what happens in November — so we were about to start finding out some of those answers anyway. But as the team tries to adjust to life without Danny, we will probably start to discover things even sooner than normal.
Should be interesting. And, hopefully, not too depressing. We’ve already had enough of that this season in, what, just 18 games. The law of averages says that something positive has to happen soon.
Then again,”averages” have the Pacers scoring nearly 5 points less per game than they give up while “averaging “43% shooting — so the whole averages isn’t exactly Indy’s best friend right now.
Maybe the Pacers shouldn’t have drafted a guy whose college team logo was plantar fasciitis.