Updated: Oct. 27, 2006, 11:59 AM ET

SPECIAL PREVIEW EDITION
Can Team Turmoil turn page?

Pacers

Team Page | Schedule | Roster | Hollinger Stats

Where will the Indiana Pacers finish in the Central Division and the Eastern Conference? Get 10 different takes from ESPN's NBA experts.

ANALYST COMMENT
Greg
Anthony

ESPN.com
The Pacers are still talented enough to compete for the East title. But the mental baggage they've taken on has never been overcome. Rick Carlisle is regarded as a great coach but is not really known as a disciplinarian, and he's faced with a team that needs exactly that.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 7
Chris
Broussard

ESPN Mag
The players' grit and Rick Carlisle's excellent coaching will get them into the playoffs despite another season of nagging injuries. But that's as far as they'll go, and they'll have to consider trading their big salaries and going young.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 7
Ric
Bucher

ESPN Mag
As good as Rick Carlisle is, as much promise as Danny Granger has, and as consistently successful as Donnie Walsh has been, I don't see Al Harrington making Indy markedly better than last season. It remains a locker room starving for leadership.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 8
Chad
Ford

ESPN.com
This year's East dark horse has great depth, fresh blood and a chip on its shoulder after two disastrous seasons. If things click and coach Rick Carlisle lets loose on the offensive reins a little, they'll surprise people.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 6
John
Hollinger

ESPN.com
The many gathering storm clouds are tough to ignore, but the addition of Al Harrington and the weakness of the East should combine to keep them out of the lottery. If Stephen Jackson goes to the lockup, they're deep enough to handle it.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 6
Scoop
Jackson

ESPN.com
Have guns, will travel. If they let the drama affect them, they're done. If not, with Al Harrington back, the Pacers could be the East Coast version of the Utah Jazz. Dangerous.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 9
Tim
Legler

ESPN.com
You just can't expect them to stay healthy and cohesive for the entire season. O'Neal is one of the NBA's best low-post scorers, when he can play. They have to earn the right to be labeled a contender. We'll see.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 6
Jim
O'Brien

ESPN.com
Unfortunately, the distractions continue. But O'Neal and Harrington are a terrific one-two punch and can lead the Pacers deep into the playoffs if Rick Carlisle gets a commitment from the rest.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 6
Chris
Sheridan

ESPN.com
Surprised that Stephen Jackson was trigger-happy? Don't count on him or Jamaal Tinsley lasting the season in Indiana. The Pacers added enough depth and talent to make both expendable if they get a starting guard in exchange.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 7
Marc
Stein
ESPN.com
If Al Harrington has a return season like Boris Diaw's debut in Phoenix, like he's been saying, Indy could finish well north of .500. If not, bet on controversies and injuries engulfing Indy again.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 7
 
Average ranks

DIVISION: 4 | Standings
CONFERENCE: 6.9 | Standings


Image Is Everything
O'Neal
Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images
After two seasons marred by suspension and injury, Jermaine O'Neal hopes things are looking up.


Lineup Breakdown

STARTERS ANALYSIS
Jamaal Tinsley
Point Guard
6-3 | 183
How valuable is a pure point? Not very, if he's in street clothes.
Stephen Jackson
Shooting Guard
6-8 | 218
Action Jackson? More like Action Distraction.
Danny Granger
Small Forward
6-9 | 228
Rangy second-year man can guard wings and bigs alike.
Al Harrington
Power Forward
6-9 | 245
Maybe perfect J.O. sidekick will be energized by return "home."
Jermaine O'Neal
Center
6-11 | 260
Wasted in the middle unless Indy actually pushes the Pace.
Bench: The only sure bet among this young bunch: Rook James White will win the dunk contest. Otherwise, the starters better take their vitamins.

ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hits newsstands October 25.



Hollinger's Player Spotlight
Sarunas Jasikevicius
Player efficiency rating
projection: 12.06
vs. NBA avg.: -2.94
Pacers profiles

Scouting report: Jasikevicius is an outstanding shooter and a clever operator, knowing how to free himself for his jumper or bait defenders into fouls that produce a near-certain two points. However, he had trouble with NBA defenses that crowded him on the perimeter and gave him little breathing room bringing the ball up court. He'll have to cut the turnovers for his career to gain traction stateside, but the other adjustment will be to the longer 3-point line. Most European players shoot the 3 much better in their second NBA season, and if that's the case Jasikevicius could be well over 40 percent -- which would make up for many of his other ills.

Jasikevicius is an unimpressive defensive player, but his size (6-4) and smarts somewhat mitigate his lack of quickness and athleticism. Indiana didn't defend notably worse with him on the court and his direct opponents put up average numbers, so he had no visible impact on the end result.

2006-07 outlook: Despite his tough initiation, Jasikevicius figures to play plenty this year. The trade of Anthony Johnson means Jasikevicius becomes the backup at point guard, while the presence of Jamaal Tinsley means Jasikevicius will be the starter about a month into the season.

Although he struggled a year ago and is 30 years old, there's reason to believe Jasikevicius can do better than a year ago. I expect his 3-point numbers to improve, and he may get a better handle on the turnover issue as well. He's a stretch as a long-term starter, but he'd be a very solid backup under the conditions outlined above and could hold down the fort if Tinsley only misses 20 games or so.


Return From Exile
Harrington
Tom Strickland/AP Photo
Al Harrington tasted plenty of defeats in his two years in Atlanta -- 125 to be exact -- and now returns to the Pacers and gives them a needed inside presence.


SportsNation Speaks
The Pacers are a team still rebounding from The Brawl. How to move on? SportsNation looks into the backcourt for some answers.

Should the Pacers keep Stephen Jackson and Jamaal Tinsley?
41.7% Trade both
28.4% Trade Jackson, keep Tinsley
19.0% Keep both
10.8% Keep Jackson, trade Tinsley

Vote: Pacers in 2006-07



Ask A Blogger
Pacers

What would it take for you to get a tattoo of the Pacers' logo on your chest?

The Indiana Pacers are by no means "my team," but what can I say; I'm a sucker for fresh logo ink. (I have matching raptor and grizzly bear tats on my quads!)

So if a bizarro Rick Carlisle gets small-ball to work -- with J.O., Harrington, Granger and whatever backcourt results after the legal system has its way -- the Pacers will run the baffled opposition out of the gym. I'll get a large "P" permanently etched on my chest.

Well, that, or they could just get me some free "dances" at Indianapolis' finest "gentlemen's club." Either/or really...

J.E. Skeets | thebasketballjones.net



Coach's Corner

RICK CARLISLE COACHING FILE
Experience: 5 years
Record: 246-164
Playoffs: 30-32
NBA titles: 0
Coach's profile

This might be the only team outside of New York that is faced with as many challenges off the court as on it.

The off-court issues add to the pressure Rick Carlisle faces as he attempts to reinvigorate both his team and the fan base.

Carlisle also has to concoct a strategy that allows for Stephen Jackson to miss a number of games in the event he is suspended.

David Thorpe, ESPN.com NBA analyst



Hollinger's Team Strength
Depth. Indiana has had as many injuries as any team in basketball the past two seasons, but has made the playoffs in consecutive seasons because of its extraordinary depth.

That should be the case again this season; the Pacers are at least two deep at every position.

Point guard is the spot of greatest concern, because Tinsley is injury-prone, Sarunas Jasikevicius struggled a season ago, and Daniels may not be able to handle playing there more than five or 10 minutes a night.

Things get better as the players get bigger.

Daniels and Jackson give the team two solid shooting guards, while the club is absolutely loaded up front.

Granger and Harrington can play either forward spot, Jackson is a capable small forward, and Williams also may be able to contribute there.

At power forward, no team can match the daunting foursome of Granger, Harrington, Baston and O'Neal, and in the middle, Foster, O'Neal and third-season pro David Harrison insulate the team against foul trouble.

More Hollinger Pacers analysis Insider



Fantasy Fix
Granger
Granger

Sleeper: Danny Granger certainly has the game to bust out in his second NBA season. He's rangy and should contribute in steals and blocks.

He's capable of consistently scoring in double figures and he rebounds well. If Granger plays 30 minutes a night, his numbers will jump across the board.

Bust: Jamaal Tinsley qualifies as a bust because he can't stay on the court. He has missed 112 games over the past three seasons, so if you draft Tinsley, make sure you've got at least one more playmaker on your roster. He is guaranteed to miss time and can be very frustrating to own.

Keith Lipscomb | Fantasy Hoops Index

 

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