Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel began experimenting with his bench rotations when his club was struggling offensively in Chicago on November 16.
Vogel inserted sharpshooter Chris Copeland into the lineup in hope of sparking some life into the offense. It worked for Copeland, as the 6-10 wing went on to score 13 points. However, the Pacers still lost to the Bulls by 16 and never showed signs of a rally.
Copeland took some minutes from rookie Solomon Hill, who had been seeing consistent playing time through Indiana’s first nine games. The Pacers went 9-0 in those games, by the way. Hill did see 10 minutes of action that game, but was held scoreless and committed two turnovers.
Since that game, Hill only saw minutes in one game – at home against the Philadelphia 76ers – out of the four they have played since, all wins. Copeland played in all four games up until Monday night’s home win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. In the game against Philly, Hill played while Ian Mahinmi sat. It was a decision Vogel discussed with Mahinmi and one in which Vogel claims to be an experimental move to get a look at different lineups.
For those that watched last season’s bench, it is nothing to worry about. This decision was not because Vogel isn’t pleased with his team’s play off the bench.
Vogel stated that he will be shortening his rotation to include normal backups in center Mahimni, forward Luis Scola, backup guard C.J. Watson and backup wing Orlando Johnson. That leaves rookie Hill on the bench, along with Copeland, an injured Danny Granger, third-string guard Donald Sloan, and seldom-used veteran Rasual Butler.
Thus, fans can expect to see more consistency from the bench in terms of players seeing game minutes. I would imagine Copeland getting minutes in certain situations, specifically when Indiana needs some shooting. Vogel simply can’t keep that kind of a shooter on the bench all season.
The Pacers do need its bench to continue to improve. That is necessary if they expect to outlast the Miami Heat come playoff time and vie for a chance at an NBA title. That means more scoring from Johnson and Watson, as well as bigger numbers from Mahinmi and Scola.
No word on what kind of contributions the Indiana Pacers will get from Granger if and when he returns.