I forgot about the Magic and Pacers because I’m a big dumb baby idiot.
What both of these teams have in common is a need to take a leap, and to strike hard this season. For the Pacers, it means becoming a legit top-3 team in the East, and top-5 in the league. Before, the words used to describe them were “pesky” and “tough,” and teams were warned not to underestimate them. This year? They have the players, the staff, and (just as important) the front office to make a major impact, and perhaps appear in the Finals, if not win it. No more chasing the Bulls or Heat, the Pacers have their own mark to make, and expect it to be made with authority by Paul George, Roy Hibbert, David West, and (finally) some bench depth.
The only player who MIGHT be a cause for concern is Danny Granger (well, and maybe David West’s health). A lot of experts seem to believe Granger will fill a slot as an athletic shooter, but it’s hard to picture him in a starting position, and that may cause friction in the locker room. Granger definitely seemed to be in a “gotta get mine” mode in the brief test run the Pacers ran with him, only for his health to fail him again. Now with him being out the first month of the regular season, who knows where his head will be when he has to get put back in the rotation. For how much they’re paying him, Danny Granger might find himself on the block.
As for the Magic, they need to move on from stage one of the rebuilding process, and start putting their future into motion. The problem is, do they want that future to be built on the backs of Tobias Harris, Arron Afflalo, Victor Oladipo, Andrew Nicholson, and Nikola Vucevic? That’s a real tough sell, especially when they have veterans who might start making a stink if they don’t get their minutes. The Magic are made up of guys who would make for a great-to-capable 6th or 7th man (Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson, Al Harrington, Hedo Turkoglu, Mo Harkless), but there doesn’t seem to be any leader on this team. Oladipo could become that player, but he needs to prove he can play to begin with. Look for the Magic to try and move nickels and dimes for a half-dollar, as they slide into a top-7 lottery pick.