Andre Gomes NBA Indiana Pacers 2010-2011 Season Preview

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Andre Gomes NBA Indiana Pacers 2010-2011 Season Preview

 

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 improvement.

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 numbers!

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

2010/11 Outlook:

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 organization.

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 each night.

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 spot.

  • 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."

    :S