The Indiana Pacers came into this past offseason with quite a few question marks surrounding the team, and there are even more now that Lance Stephenson is gone. One of the Pacers’ biggest disappointments last season was the lack of bench production once again, and Luis Scola was a big part of the disappointment. He was expected to come into Indiana and bring consistent scoring off of the bench, but he did anything but that.
At the beginning of the season, it looked as if the Pacers might have been smart to make the move for Scola. He was extremely active on the offensive end and his mid-range jump shot looked automatic. As the season wore on, he began to look fatigued and his shot completely left him, and the Pacers’ bench looked completely lost.
Perhaps the biggest question facing the Pacers heading into the 2014 season, is whether or not Scola will be able to help in 2014.
There is no doubt that he has the potential to come out and prove all of his doubters from last season wrong. His offensive game has always been one of the most polished among power forwards in the NBA, but his defense leaves a lot to be desired. The Pacers are desperately searching for consistent veteran leadership off of the bench, and Scola began to show that in a couple games during the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
Scola ended up playing in all 82 regular season games with the Pacers, and averaged 7.6 points and 4.8 rebounds. His shooting numbers looked decent overall at 47%, but it would have been much higher than that if he had kept up his early season production. There were some analysts reporting that he had injured his elbow and that was hurting his shot, but there were others that saw a lack of confidence in his game.
It’s hard to predict whether a player will be able to turn things around from one season to another, but there is a lot of pressure on Scola to do so. The Pacers gave up Miles Plumlee, Gerald Green, and a first round pick to get Scola, and it simply looks like they were robbed in the deal. Scola has always responded well to pressure, but this is a much different situation.
Frank Vogel firmly believes in Scola’s ability, and obviously the front office does as well by keeping him around for another season. The Pacers’ offense is going to be a very favorable for Scola’s game, and he will likely be given the first chance to be David West‘s primary backup. If he doesn’t perform up to standards, it won’t be too long before the Pacers look to either Chris Copeland or Lavoy Allen as an alternative.
Overall, this is going to be a very interesting situation to keep an eye on early on in the 2014-15 season. The Pacers are not going to accept poor play and allow players to take their playing time for granted this season, and Scola was one of the players that appeared to be doing that down the stretch of last season. All of that being said, the Pacers are counting on Scola to step up and he knows that this is likely his last chance with the Pacers.