I don't for one second pretend that the Pacers will be a 'good' team in the NBA this season, but the lack of respect they have been getting from the 'experts' in the media has been downright puzzling.
According to a panel ESPN experts, the Pacers will be horrendous this season. The average prediction is that they will finish 3.8 (out of 5 teams) in the Central Division and 11.8 (out of 15 teams) in the Eastern Conference.
Only Chad Ford predicted the Pacers to make the playoffs as the 8th seed. Most others picked them to be either 13th or 14th, which, considering they are in the Eastern Conference, one of the 3-5 worst teams in the entire NBA. (See their comments here).
As I mentioned in an earlier post, ESPN Insider earlier ranked the Pacers as the 4th worst team in the NBA, just ahead of the Timberwolves, Pistons and Raptors.
Looking around online, it seems the sentiment is shared in cyberspace. On The Big Lead, they mentioned the Pacers as the possible worst team in the East (see here), but mostly because they will be trading away expiring deals (how is that going to make them worse?).
Even on NBA 2K11 (which has been taking up a bit of my time lately), the Pacers are ranked 26th in the NBA.
I don't get it. The Pacers have not 9th, 9th and 10th in the East over the last 3 years despite injury woes. Sure they lost Troy Murphy, but the Darren Collison trade was considered one of the best of the offseason. Haven't they all been talking about how the team needs a legit PG? Well, now they've got one.
Hibbert is only entering his 3rd year and getting rave reviews for his monstrous offseason. Tyler Hansbrough and Mike Dunleavy are starting to round into form after coming back from injury and illness, and all 3 rookies drafted (Paul, Stephenson, Rolle) were heralded as wonderful selections.
How does that team that was only a few games away from the playoffs in each of the last 3 seasons, and has actually improved over the offseason, suddenly become the cellar dweller in the East?
The team's preseason performance has not been anything to make people reconsider their stance, but I'm sure the Pacers can start turning some heads provided they stay healthy this season.
Well, I'll leave you with an NBA.com video featuring Chris Webber being a douche.