Season Preview: Worst Case Scenario
With the season a little over a week away I thought I'd preview my expecations for the season. The Pacers past couple of season have been so crazy it is hard to consider previewing this team without accounting for possible external forces playing a part. So, in that spirit I will offer my worst and best case scenarios for this season before offering a realistic scenario.
So, here is the worst case scenario for 2006-07:
Jermaine O'Neal's Achilles heel flares up and never fully heals not allowing him to play more than two games in a row. His minutes are down as is his production. The irony of the situation is that the Pacers' Achilles heel is a lack of production from JO.
Al Harrington's back continues to bother him causing a handful of missed games prior to New Years Day. Suddenly the terms "disc" and "degenerative" begin showing up in reports on Al. Meanwhile he's playing but only producing sporadically. Around the All-Star Break Al goes in for some work on his back and ends up modeling a stellar collection of suits on the bench for the remainder of the year.
Jamaal Tinsley goes through the first two months of the year on the bench in street clothes. His injury is hard to decipher, but he has either a leg or an arm bruise. The source of the bruise is not revealed but he reportedly is not comfortable playing with the bruise. He tries to play in January but just can't get back to 100% so he shuts it down for the season.
Finally, after Stephen Jackson skates through the legal system in January with no jail time, Fingers is not satisfied with the legal results from the Club Rio incident. Embarrassed that continual reports of the incident involve him getting beat down in the parking lot, Fingers has Aunt Valerie drive him and a few of his recently sprung former cell mates over to Conseco. As the players are exiting the practice facility, Fingers aims to maim Jack's shooting arm but instead catches his left shoulder. With stray bullets ricocheting off the walls, Danny Granger absorbs a shot to the knee. Jack pulls his 9mm out of his practice shorts and fires a few rounds through the roof sending Fingers and posse running to Aunt Valerie's car. No one else is hurt but Jack and Granger are done for the year.
With half of the year remaining and the starting five no longer available, the remaining young Pacers show lots of promise but not many wins. The Pacers miss the playoffs with a 35-46 record which is a pretty impressive number of wins considering the circumstances of the season. Of course, this leaves the team with a minimal chance to win the draft lottery and with it the rights to draft Greg Oden.