The Indiana Pacers have had a very disappointing offseason, and their expectations for 2014 have fallen dramatically. They lost Lance Stephenson to the Charlotte Hornets in free agency, and then saw Paul George break his leg in Team USA’s scrimmage game on August 1st. Those two losses will knock the Pacers down in the Eastern Conference, and even has many expecting to see them miss the playoffs.
There is no one on the Pacers’ roster that can come close to making up for the loss of George in particular, but the loss of Stephenson was already expected to show some major flaws in the offense. Frank Vogel simply doesn’t have a good offense, and there are no passing playmakers left on the team at this point in time. One player that the Pacers are expected to lean on in particular, is veteran power forward David West.
West re-signed with the Pacers on a three-year, $36 million deal last offseason, and was expecting to compete for a championship in all three of those seasons. The Pacers made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, but this season and next season are very much in doubt with the injury to George. Indiana is going to have to rely on West’s scoring ability in the post and from mid-range if they want to make the playoffs this year.
So what can they expect from West this coming season?
Quite simply, West has always been a leader and the type of player who elevates his game whenever his team needs him to. He is 33 years old, which could be something that holds him back, but he is still playing at a high level. Last season in 80 regular season games, West averaged 14.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Those numbers are expected to go up, as he will more than likely be the Pacers’ number one scoring option.
Vogel’s offense has always been better when run through the post, but Hibbert’s lack of consistency has made that more difficult. Now that Indiana’s perimeter players have taken a major step back, they are going to renew their persistence of playing through the post. West is going to get more looks than he has in the last couple of seasons, and he will get back to being the dominant scorer that he was in New Orleans and in his first couple seasons with the Pacers.
Overall, the Pacers and fans can expect to see a much improved West. He is the type of leader that Indiana will need this coming season as they go through an incredibly difficult season without their best player, and that will be one of the reasons that the Pacers make the playoffs. It will be a very productive season for West, and the Pacers are going to give him every chance to be the All-Star player that he has been in the past.