Perhaps the best improvement was made with this position and the addition of David West. He not only added some stability there, but added the veteran leadership that this team had been missing. It was very evident come playoff time and the Pacers had beat the Heat in game two, and West was out there yelling to the guys “It’s just one game” and was getting them off the court and not to celebrate a huge win.
He added the scoring punch in the post that I think helped open up Danny Granger’s game. I think he also helped open up Roy Hibbert’s game as Hibbert could be there to get some help in the post.
West didn’t show any signs of feeling the effects of his surgery and injury from a year ago that worried some people. He wasn’t quite at the scoring punch he was usually at, but he could lead the team at times in scoring. He put up 32 points in a late season game against the Sixers. He grabbed a season high in rebounds against the Bucks with 14. And he upped his game come playoff time as he averaged 15 points for the playoffs.
The back up in Tyler Hansbrough had a bit of an up and down season as he wasn’t that consistent enough, which is an area that he can improve. But Hansbrough did show his range as he was able to make some jump shots from around the free throw line. I think he needs the ball in better positions to score so he doesn’t have to start all the way out on the three point line and drive to the line. He brings such an intensity to the game, which is great for him and great for the team. That’s probably the best thing about him, and what he can do for the Pacers.
We can’t forget Jeff Pendergraph, who was brought in the off-season. Unfortunately, Pendergraph didn’t play much as he was hit with an injury early on, and the roster was limited for a bit. But Larry Bird stated in his press conference yesterday that he’s very high on Pendergraph and thinks he can make an impact on this team. I’ll just take Bird’s word about that for now, and see what Pendergraph can do next year.
Next season will be important because it will be David West’s last year of the deal he signed. I think he might want to stay around longer if the Pacers can afford it and if they do as well or even better than what they did this year. If he can’t stay around, then the question will become does Hansbrough become the starter? Or where do you go? But I look for West to have another good year with the Pacers. I think he’ll get the scoring up and like I said the leadership aspect is so important to this young team. I love where the Pacers are with this position, and think it will be fine next year.