- Kevin Pelton, ESPN Staff Writer
To their credit, the Indiana Pacers have steadfastly refused to blame USA Basketball or the FIBA World Cup for the horrific injury star forward Paul George suffered in Friday's pre-World Cup USAB scrimmage in Las Vegas.
"We still support USA Basketball and believe in the NBA's goals of exposing our game, our teams and players worldwide," team president of basketball operations Larry Bird said in a statement. "This is an extremely unfortunate injury that occurred on a highly visible stage, but could also have occurred anytime, anywhere."
However, one aspect of the timing will be particularly problematic for the Pacers as they move forward without George, who could miss the entire 2014-15 campaign after breaking both his fibula and his tibia when he collided with a stanchion during the exhibition game. Because George's injury came after Indiana's roster for the upcoming season was nearly complete, the Pacers built a team around George that will struggle to fill the hole his loss leaves at both ends. But that doesn't eliminate Indiana from making the playoffs.
Here's a look at how the Pacers project in 2014-15 and what the team will need to improve on in order to minimize the impact of George's injury.
Healthy Pacers must create more shots
On an Indiana team that sometimes struggled to score in 2013-14, particularly during the second half of the season and the playoffs, George was the go-to guy. He finished a team-high 28.3 percent of the Pacers' plays with a shot, a trip to the free throw line or a turnover. Only one other Indiana starter had a usage rate higher than average (David West, 21.9 percent).
2hMichael C. Wright