2009/10 Season Review:
The Jim O’Brien era in Indiana was supposed to be fun and
entertaining to watch, but instead the team amassed a 104-142 record –
only 42.3% winning record and I seriously doubt that O’Brien will
survive another season in Indiana if the team doesn’t show any kind of
For the second consecutive season the Indiana Pacers were the second
fastest team in the NBA trailing only the Warriors in this department.
In order to be successful in such run and gun system, it’s imperative
for the team to be “good” in 3 different offensive statistics: FG%, fast
break points and 3pts shooting. Well, the Pacers struggled in those 3
categories and so it isn’t hard to imagine why they finished with a
losing record once again last season.
They were the third worst shooting team in the league by shooting
just 44.3% from the field; the 19th best team in fast break points
averaging 13.2ppg and the 16th best team behind the arc hitting 35.0%.
We are talking about a poor offensive team that relies their chances to
win ballgames in their offense, enough said.
While their defense was an average unit ranked 16th in the league,
the Pacers were absolutely killed in the rebounds battle by being
outrebounded by 5.1 rebounds per game – only the Warriors had worst
Despite all their struggles, the Pacers showed some improvement
during the season by going 16-18 in the last 3 months of the regular
season opposing the dismal 16-32 record to start the season.
2009/10 Advanced Stats:
Pace 2nd 99.7
Offense 26th 101.2
Defense 16th 104.2
Rebounds 29th -5.10
When we think about some of the best run and gun teams in the
history of the NBA automatically the common factor of those teams is
the presence of a great Point Guard playmaker. Magic Johnson, Steve
Nash or Baron Davis (in the good old days) were/are terrific playmakers
that ran the show by feeding their teammates and making them better
overall players. Last season the Pacers had T.J. Ford and Earl Watson
to run the show…
Both Ford and Watson are way far from being top playmakers, as not
only they have poor shooting numbers through their careers (Ford 43.6%
FG and Watson 41.7% FG – career numbers), but also because they couldn’t
manage properly the tempo of the game.
The Indiana Pacers finally addressed their biggest weakness from the
past few years by trading for point guard Darren Collison. Last season
Collison was having a relatively quiet rookie season when suddenly
Chris Paul got injured and then he was “forced” to play major minutes.
Under these circumstances he started 37 games and averaged 18.8 points
per game, while shooting 48.5% from the field, he also averaged 9.1
assists per game and 1.41 steals per game! Darn impressive! He had
quite possibly the best Point Guard in the league as his mentor, but it
is enough for him to make the jump and being “the solo playmaker” of
one team?! Despite all those impressive numbers we should not forget
that he also averaged 4.1 turnovers per game as a starter and his
adjusted 4.6 turnovers per 48 minutes was the third worst mark in the
league amongst Point Guards.
His path in the NBA will have some growing pains, but nevertheless
the Pacers have now a face in their franchise that have the potential to
be a terrific playmaker – indispensable condition for a successful run
and gun team.
The Pacers still have T.J. Ford on the roster but sooner or later he
will be gone. It’s no secret the team attempted to trade Ford this
offseason and with an expiring contract Ford isn’t on the Pacers future
plans. A.J. Price is the natural backup for Collison and the Pacers
have probably the youngest Point Guards in the league, so we can expect
them to commit some errors through the season.
For a team that needs badly any help from the outside a healthy Mike
Dunleavy would be crucial! Dunleavy had a career season in 07-08 by
averaging 19.1ppg, while shooting 47.6% FG and 42.4% behind the arc, but
since then he played only 85 games in the last 2 seasons. He is a
perfect fit for this system due to his shooting range, but will he be
healthy enough after suffering some brutal knee injuries?! He is in his
final year of the contract, so the Pacers have another “movable” player
in him and won’t be surprised if he plays for another team just before
the trade deadline.
To complete the backcourt, the Pacers have Brandon Rush and Dahntay
Jones and curiously both players are more known for their defensive
abilities than their offensive skills. Rush should get the shooting
guard spot based on his defensive ability. Last season Rush played in
all the 82 games, while starting in 64 of them and logging 30.4 minutes
per game. He didn’t show any special improvement as he shot exactly the
same mark than his rookie season: 42.3% from the field. Yes, he
improved in some areas like points, rebounds and assists per game, but
it was more due to his increased playing time: from 24.0 to 30.4
minutes per game. Dahntay Jones had a solid season, but his inability
to shot behind the arc was notorious: 12.5% while attempting just 0.4
treys per game.
Still the best player and leader of this team is Danny Granger and
if Indiana wants to be competitive this season then they need Granger to
be way more effective than he was last season. After being an All Star
in 08-09, Granger had a subpar season by shooting only 42.8% from the
field. This low percentage is problematic because he attempted 18.4
Field Goals per game – 9th player in the league in FG/Attempts. He also
was the player in the league that attempted more treys per game: a
whopping mark of 7.1 3pts/att per game, but hitting just 36.3% of them.
Granger felt the pressure to be “the man” in Indiana as his Production
per 48 Minutes of Clutch Time was a pedestrian 24.5ppg far away from
the true superstars in the league. He may not be a truly Superstar in
this league, but surely he’s capable of producing more than last season
and in order for Indiana to be a respectable team it’s imperative that
Granger enjoys an All Star caliber season once again.
Alongside with Collison, the Pacers also received James Posey from
the New Orleans Hornets, but unfortunately Posey forgot how to shoot the
ball once he signed a new contract with the Hornets a couple of
seasons ago because his shooting numbers are just flat awful for a
perimeter player: 36.5% from the field last season!
The Pacers’ top prospect is Paul George, out of Fresno State. He has
the upside to be a terrific player in an run and gun system by being a
6′8 small forward with a long wingspan and unlimited range. His
athleticism and ability to run the floor makes him dynamic in
transition, resulting in big time dunks, but he also showed to be a high
turnover percentage player. Nevertheless during the Orlando Summer
League competition, George ended up among the top scorers by averaging
15.2ppg while shooting 52% from the field. Plus he also averaged 7.8
rebounds and 2.4 steals per game. That’s good signs for him and for the
Like their divisional rivals Detroit Pistons, the Pacers have a
pretty thin frontcourt that lacks quality. They were the second worst
NBA team in rebound margin and what they did to improve such dismal
statistic? Well, they traded away their best rebounder for virtually
nothing, terrific right?
Troy Murphy was the Pacers best rebounder last season averaging
10.2rpg, the second best rebounder Roy Hibbert averaged 5.7rpg! Yes he
had/has a big contract, but he was still productive on the court and the
Pacers didn’t find any player to fill his numbers.
Instead it will be Josh McRoberts and Tyler Hansbrough who will
fight for the Power Forward position and honestly these aren’t great
news for any Pacers fan. McRoberts showed some rebounding prowerness
when he started in 3 games last season and averaged 8.3rpg, but the
sample is just too small. Hansbrough had a tough rookie season with an
inner ear problem that kept him out most of last season, but he has some
good chances to earn the Pacers’ starting power forward job.
For the center position the Pacers have in Roy Hibbert their present
and future and he needs badly to find a way to stay on the floor! Last
season he averaged 3.5 fouls per game – 3rd most in the NBA and
obviously he couldn’t play much more than his 25.1 minutes per game.
Nevertheless when he was on the court he was Indiana’s third-leading
scorer last year with 11.7ppg; he finished second on the team in
rebounds (5.7rpg) and first in blocks (1.6bpg)! A more mature Hibbert
will help the Pacers in their quest to avoid being a terrible rebounding
team because behind him the Pacers have Solomon Jones and Jeff Foster
and these players are serviceable backups but can’t log major minutes
As a conclusion I can really write almost the same thing as I’ve wrote for the Detroit Pistons:
The Pacers have the weapons to compete for a playoff spot but they need
badly everyone to be healthy especially Roy Hibbert. With such a long
season on the horizon, I don’t think that their frontcourt will be able
to hang around against others Eastern Conference teams to earn that
Forward Danny Granger and backup guard T.J. Ford suffered ankle and hamstring injuries, respectively. They appear serious enough that both players could spend time in street clothes.
Granger sprained his left ankle late in the first half when he landed awkwardly after a drive to the basket.
"It swelled right up," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said about their best offensive player. "I don't know how long it's going to take for him to get healed. Clearly, we need him to be healthy. But we can't do anything about that until we find out how severely sprained it is."
"It tightened and locked up," Ford said. "Guess I've got to go back to the drawing board. I felt good in the past week of practice. Hopefully it's a small setback. I don't know how long I'll be out. We haven't discussed that yet."