Unless something extraordinary (or extraordinarily bad) happens tonight, the Pacers preseason game tonight in Memphis will join all other preseason openers as a game greatly anticipated but barely remembered. There’s no TV, so those of us not in Tennessee tonight won’t get to “see” anything, but we can still get a feel for a few things.
For more detailed previews, you can check out Mike Wells’ article from this morning, or see what our friend Chip Crain of 3 Shades of Blue has to say. With O’Brien saying that no one (with the possible exception of Paul George) will play more than 24 minutes over the next four games, there’s only so much we can take away from the preseason. Still, it’s good to have Pacer basketball back, even if it’s just a dressed rehearsal.
We won’t get a sense for rotations, and the game plans will be vanilla, but there’s still some things to learn here. I’m sure each of you have your hopes and expectations, but here’s what I’m going to be hoping to get a better feel for between now and the start of the season:
- Everybody and their brother has raved about Roy Hibbert and his offseason, none more glowingly than Jim O’Brien. Roy has become the smiling face of the franchise, and he is poised to be the focal point of the offense. The big question, however, is – will he be more mobile defensively after dropping 25 pounds? He was always capable of being a solid-to-good offensive player, but his limitations are at the opposite end. How much has that changed?
- The acquisition of Darren Collison changed the outlook for this season overnight. How will he work with Hibbert and Granger? Will he be able to pressure the ball defensively the way he did in college? How will he deal with playing without the ball more? How much will O’Brien adjust the offense to feature more PnR’s?
- Health – Will Dunleavy be recovered enough to show at least a reasonable facsimile of his 2008 form? How far along is A.J. Price, and will there be any lingering effects of his summer knee injury? When will Tyler Hansbrough become fully available, and how far behind will he be? What kind of shape are vets Jeff Foster and James Posey in?
- Will Josh McRoberts actually be a viable, big minute starter at the 4?
- How long will the detente between T.J. Ford and Jim O’Brien last?
- Just how hard is Paul George pushing Mike Dunleavy for the starting slot at the 2? If he’s really as good as we’re starting to hear, what does it mean for Brandon Rush?
- With 16 guaranteed contracts (excluding Lance Allred), who will be left without a seat when the music stops. Ford was a candidate for a buyout, but recent news says that he and Obie have worked things out. Solomon Jones is another possibility, but he has been strong in training camp. Lance Stephenson still has a legal cloud over his head, and an October 19th court date could (but probably won’t) dictate his future. Who will be on the outside looking in come the end of October?
It all begins tonight with the first test of guys who aren’t their teammates. It’s meaningless, but I’m excited nonetheless.
Roy Hibbert. Darren Collison. Danny Granger. Paul George. Bring ‘em on.
Oh, yeah, bring on Mark & Slick, too.
It’s time for Pacer basketball.