This article had me going this morning. I know it's a long read, but i think it is worth it.
I think that the parallels between the team are really strong from a players perspective. The coaches also draw the same positive and negative reviews. The me against the world mentality is really embraced as well in the new Raptors culture (as being on the wrong side of the whistles, enduring the "Won't play in Canada" years.) Both teams had winning basketball season based more on team play, hustle, role definition
Both teams have superstars in the making whom struggles in various areas. (George disappearing offensively, DeRozan being exposed as a 1 on 1 defender.)
However where things differ, is the mistakes the Pacers made, regarding their identity and culture.
First move which appears to really hurt them, from an eye test and stats standpoint, was the swap of Hands Bro with Scola.
Scola, while being a way more skilled player, proved to be a predictable odd fit on the roster, posting the lowest FG% of his entire NBA career and a negative win share on offense.
Handsbrough in his last Pacers season had a higher PER, higher win shares in offense and defense, better rebounding numbers and was just an overall better player to have in a Pacers' culture.
I won't write about the Andrew Bynum move because it was just terrible. Even if it was just to prevent the Heat from signing him, it showed one thing to the players: lack of trust of them defeating the Heat with their current roster. From that signing on (sorry no stats there) Roy Hibbert began to be horrible, trying to do too much on offense and not being the shell of himself defensively.
Finally, the worst move of them all. Swapping a veteran on the decline for Evan Turner. Even though Turner, at this stage of his career, is a better player all around than Granger, the transaction created even more issue. Firsteval, the former all-star that was Granger was also George mentor and his departure coincide with a dramatic drop off in George's and even the whole team play winning 7 out of 17 games. The move also deferred the leadership role to David West. While he's a terrific player, he wasn't an homegrown talent like Granger.
Chalmers, while speaking of that trade and the Pacers struggles, said that he couldn't picture the Heat parting ways with Haslem because of his heart and soul role.
WHERE I'M FINALLY GETTING AT.
Parting ways with veteran on upcoming talent
Trading Amir Johnson, not picking his option, not resigning him, etc. What effect could that have on that team? He, with DeRozan, are the raptors who have been Raptors for the longest time. He is as important, to not say way more, than Haslem is to Miami and than Granger was to Indy. Loosing him means more than loosing a player, it means loosing an integral part of what makes the Raptors the Raptors, and would lead to a probable identity crisis such as the one the Pacers went through.
The same needs to be said about DeRozan. Like it or not, he is the raptors face in the same way Granger was. Let's create a scenario in which Lowry stays and DeRozan quits. The leadership would differ to Lowry who, despite being an impact arrival (like West was), didn't grow as a player within the organisation which leads me to think that the team could possibly try to adapt to a new personality leading to a new direction which might not lead to a winning situation.
Importance of role players
Role players are about more than just being role players. They define the identity and allow the starters to keep playing their game instead of adjusting to other players. The importance of this cannot be underestimate. The Pacers had to play freaking Rasual Butler (god was he awful) instead of Turner because of this exact reason. Bringing Turner in the game disrupted the entire Indiana offense.
Playing the Sacramento Raptors with the starters didn't led to any discordance because they all are (yes even Salmons) gritty and hustle player which mesh to the identity and culture.
Any further acquisition of players, through the draft or FA, must allow the team to continue playing Raptors basketball and not going away from what they are doing well.