Outsider’s Perspective: Questions with 8 points, 9 seconds


The Indiana Pacers and the New Orleans Pelicans face off Wednesday night in NOLA. The Pelicans come into Wednesday still looking for answers after losing DeMarcus Cousins for the season. The Pacers, however, are still riding a very surprising season and are just trying to stay healthy. For more on the Pacers, we connected with 8 points, 9 seconds editor Ben Gibson to answer a few questions. We also have put our own spin on what to look out for in tonight’s matchup. Enjoy our latest and ever-evolving installment of Outsider’s Perspective.

What to look for:

1. Nikola Mirotic’s bounce back.

Nobody is perfect, let’s always remember that. After a successful debut against the Timberwolves, Mirotic struggled to get much going Monday against the Jazz. He went two for eight from the field and finished with five points and three rebounds. Expect a much better game Wednesday as he continues to get more comfortable in New Orleans.

2. More DeAndre Liggins?
Liggins was able to make his return Monday after being let go a week ago. The Pelicans lack defense and often urgency. Liggins brings both on his worst day. If he’s able to provide anything offensively, expect his minutes to slowly increase, starting tonight.

3. What about Diallo?

Another high energy player, Cheick Diallo has worked his way into the good graces of head coach Alvin Gentry. Gentry mentioned after Diallo’s first career double-double, that he earned the opportunity for more minutes. Will he receive more than 15 Wednesday?

Now on to the questions and wonderful insight from Ben Gibson.

1. Nationally, after the Pacers traded Paul George, optimism was low. Indiana had other plans, as both Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis are having career years. Was there even an inkling that the Pacers were getting this type of return?

Both have surpassed even the most optimistic expectations. This was the best case scenario. Victor Oladipo is an All-Star, and Domantas can be one if he keeps improving.

But no one thought this was going to happen so quickly.

Oladipo was never this good, even back with the Orlando Magic. He learned a thing or two from Russell Westbrook apparently and improved nearly every area of his game offensively. His 3-point shooting might be the most impressive lead.

Sabonis was a known asset or at least a prospect, but there weren’t signs he was going to be ready to start at center when asked and average a double-double. His basketball IQ was amazing from the first time we saw him play.

This is the brightest timeline. Replacing a player like Paul George is next to impossible, but the pain from his departure is gone.

2. Lance Stephenson was a Pelican for a short time last season. Before injury, we got a chance to see many of the things that make him fun to watch. Flaws and all he’s again becoming a must see every night. How much has returning to the Pacers helped him after a few disappointing stints elsewhere?

It helps that the Pacers let Lance Stephenson be himself in a way other teams didn’t. He doesn’t have the responsibility he had in Charlotte but he has a long leash coming off the bench.

Staying healthy is a big part of it, but the trust the Pacers put in him, and he knows a few bad plays won’t end his night, play a factor, too.

3. Lost in the Pacers surprising season has been head coach Nate McMillan. He’s always appeared underrated throughout his NBA stays. Is he a long-term answer in Indiana?

I believe Nate McMillan is part of the reason for the success of this group, but he’s far from perfect.

I hate to say that about him because he hasn’t done the Pacers wrong. He just seems to have limits as to how far he can take the Pacers. I’m in no hurry to run him out, but he has to get more out of the Pacers, particularly when Oladipo is out, and prove he can win a playoff series or two.

4. What’s the biggest misconception about the Pacers?

I don’t know if there is a good answer to that this season because they are beating everyone’s expectations.

If anything I believe they still can get better with the current roster as Glenn Robinson III has missed every game so far this season with an ankle injury. When he is back at 100% that’s a potential 3-and-D addition to the Pacers.

He isn’t going to make the Pacers a contender, but he might provide stability to a bench unit that could use some help.

5. Outside Perspective on the Pelicans

Before Boogie went down they looked like a potential landmine for teams out West in the playoffs. Obviously, expectations are scaled back now.

They’ve been a team on the edge of the playoffs in past seasons, but it really seemed like they were going to be something this season beyond that.

They’ve got some fun parts even without Cousins, but it’s hard to see how they get over the hump for now. I hope they can get Davis to stick around, hold on to some draft picks and reach the potential most of us see in them.

It is tough seeing them in a situation right now where there aren’t many short-term ways to getting better, but they have a front office and coach likely fighting for their jobs if they don’t make the playoffs.

Next: The Pelicans Debriefing: Season-ending injuries on the rise

That’s a wrap for our time with Ben. Make sure to follow him @CowboyOnPatrol and the Pacers @8pts9secs. You can follow us as always @PelicanDebrief. Thanks for reading and enjoy the game!