Recent indicators have the Indiana Pacers becoming more active in their search for a scoring power forward to pair with their perimeter threats. Could their man be the Bucks' Charlie Villanueva?
Scoring threats Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy are the primary parts of the Pacers' offense, and, now that Indianapolis has their new point guard in T.J. Ford to run the action on the floor, the final questions are about the team's interior play.
Jeff Foster gave Indianapolis a positive presence in the middle of the floor last year, and the team added Rasho Nesterovic and Roy Hibbert through the Jermain O'Neal deal.
While Troy Murphy brings value to the power forward position, particularly through his rebounding, he does not have it in him to break out for a big scoring game nor is he a particularly good defender one-on-one. While a fairly consistent scorer, he put up more than 20 points all of three times last season. He would also occassionally have a game where he brought very little offensive production to the court for the Pacers.
That's not to minimize Murphy's production, as he brings to the table exactly the mindset the Bucks - with new head coach Scott Skiles - hope to install in all their players. Milwaukee will likely start four other players that can score, but would benefit from the rebounding effort and defensive intensity Murphy would bring.
His value might actually be part of the problem. Murphy's contract is worth significantly more than Villanueva's, and the Pacers would surely want more than him (and would need more to satisfy the CBA's trade rules) for a player that is more NBA-proven.
What Villanueva does have, however, is a legitimate chance to blossom into a high-scoring NBA player. He is still young, and with youth comes inconsistency. But after he won the starting power forward position from Yi Jianlian, the Bucks' top draft pick of a year ago, he settled into the role nicely. While he actually averaged fewer points per game than Murphy, Villanueva showed his high ceiling. Within the last two months of the year, he scored 22 points nine times, including games in which he tallied 32 and 38 points.
That just might be the sort of upside the Pacers have been searching for.
Place the Bobcats in the place where the Pacers are and this spells playoffs.