OTG's All-Decade Team: Indiana Pacers Edition
With the past decade coming to a close, what better way to ring in the new decade by reflecting on the past. Off The Glass is taking a look at each NBA team and selecting their All-Decade squad, which is defined by one guard, one forward, one center, a role player (someone not selected as an All-Star, or to an All-NBA team), and one wildcard.
Today we are highlighting the Indiana Pacers.
Guard: George Hill. There was no clear-cut choice for this selection, but Hill spent half of the decade in Indiana, averaging 12.3 PPG while shooting 37.6% from deep. The Indianapolis native supplied his hometown organization with consistency and a solid secondary scoring option alongside the likes of Paul George and Danny Granger.
Forward: Paul George. No matter what your thoughts were on George’s departure, you cannot deny his placement here. PG spent seven years in Indy; he was a 4x All-Star 3x All-NBA selection, Most Improved Player honoree, and 3x All-NBA Defense selection. The Pacers could never get over the Eastern Conference hump during George’s stint due to the Miami Heat, but the Fresno State product gave the King and company some of their greatest battles.
Center: Myles Turner. I was going back-and-forth between Turner and Roy Hibbert, but ended up giving the edge to the former. Turner is in his fifth season with the Pacers since they drafted him 11th overall in the 2015 draft. He arrived during Indiana’s transition into a new era and delivered frontcourt stability through quality two-way play. As one of the league’s most underrated defenders and an offensively-advanced big man, Turner has become a very important piece for Indiana both on and off the court.
Role Player: David West. Just like the center selection, this was one was tough; Lance Stephenson was also being considered, but I ultimately went with West. From 2011-14, he averaged 14 PPG and 7 RPG, while being a solid locker room presence during the Pacers’ days of contention. West’s toughness and ‘take no-nonsense’ attitude may not have always showed up on the stat sheet, but were luxuries in Indiana.
Wildcard: Lance Stephenson’s blow. Back in 2014, Lance Stephenson’s antics rose to a new level when he famously blew in LeBron James’ ear during a game; the clip exploded on social media and national television. The act brought more value to the Heat-Pacers rivalry that had formed over the past couple of years and represented the nature of the competitiveness between both teams.
Team High: 2012-14. Despite losing in the Eastern Conference finals to Miami in back-to-back seasons, the Pacers experienced high levels of success. Between PG, Hill, West, Stephenson, and Roy Hibbert, Indiana embodied their ‘blue-collar’ identity on the court. The organization’s grit and confidence made them one of the biggest threats to the ‘Big 3’ down in South Beach.
Team Low: 2014-15 season. In the summer of 2014, George sustained a horrific leg injury while playing with the United States’ national team. The timing could not have been worse with him coming off of a monster season. He only appeared in six games the following year, but the Pacers lost another year of potential contention and never reached that level again.
Upcoming Decade Prediction: With Victor Oladipo at the forefront and solid pieces such as Turner, Malcolm Brogdon, and Domantas Sabonis, Indiana is attempting to embody the ‘blue-collar’ identity once again. The Pacers will make the playoffs almost, if not every postseason while making the conference finals at least once.