Pacers Summer League: The surprising, the solid, and the underwhelming performances in Las Vegas

Indiana Pacers Summer League squad will not leave Las Vegas without a victory after winning their consolation game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Alize Johnson and DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell combined for 49 points and 23 rebounds to lead the way for Indiana as many players sat out with minor injuries.

This was surprisingly the most fun game to watch over the course of the week. With Aaron Holiday, Edmond Sumner, Brian Bowen and Goga Bitadze all out, Johnson and Akoon-Purcell carried the team and provided an entertaining finish to Summer League play for Indiana.

Let’s take one last look at how the important players performed this week in Vegas:

Alize Johnson

We’ll start with the star of the final game. Johnson put on a clinic in non-stop effort for rebounds on the offensive glass and had secured a double double in the first half.

He finished the week with three double doubles and showed that effort on the glass consistently. He averaged 16.4 points and 9.6 rebounds.

In Thursday’s game, Johnson’s transition passing was on full display as he had five assists and four of them set up 3-pointers. He has great ability in getting a defensive rebound, pushing the pace and either going all the way to the rim or finding an open teammate in transition.

Johnson started off 0 for 6 from behind the arc but made 3 of his last 9 attempts from long distance in the final two games. Even with his struggles shooting the long ball, he was one of only a couple Pacers with an efficient shooting percentage as he made 48% of his attempts overall. A consistent jump shot is the biggest thing he could add to his game to increase his odds of success in the league.

Johnson has a partial guarantee on his contract that the Pacers will have to make a decision about next week but there would be minimal salary cap benefits to cutting him, there’s already two open roster spots, and he still looks like a player that has the potential to find a niche in the NBA.

Aaron Holiday

Holiday sat out the final game with a sore hip but made just 6 of 26 shot attempts in his last Summer League game and shot just 30% on 69 shot attempts over three games. You probably heard more expletives out of frustration from Holiday this week than made shots. It was not an encouraging week for the second-year point guard out of UCLA.

He was among the leaders in points scored per game at 22.3 but got increasingly inefficient. His decision making as the lead ball handler left a lot to be desired as he took tough shots in the lane and struggled to make the right reads on his passes. The lack of a true center and shooting on the roster didn’t help, but the Pacers certainly were hoping for a better showing from someone in line for a rotation role.

It’s important to note that this is just Summer League. Holiday’s performance here doesn’t mean that he won’t succeed by the time the regular season comes around. His week looks a lot better if he’s able to make some open shots but there are clearly things for him to improve on before training camp if he doesn’t want to be in a tighter than expected battle with T.J. McConnell for those backup minutes.

He did show some flashes of good things with some tough finishes at the rim and some excellent transition defense.

Brian Bowen II

Bowen looked deserving of that 2-way contract. He missed the final game with a sore back. On Thursday, he had his best game in Vegas as he put up 17 points and 7 rebounds. In the first quarter of that game, he scored 9 points in a stretch of about 45 seconds. He shot the ball better than anyone on the roster.

Bowen made some nice passes throughout his three games including this behind-the-back pass that set up a Johnson 3-pointer. He moved the ball well, played within himself. He led the Pacers in field goal percentage by making half of his 22 shot attempts while averaging 12.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He’ll be someone to keep an eye on throughout this season.

DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell

DAP looked like one the Pacers best players on the roster throughout his five games and was easily the best player of the NBA hopefuls looking for a contract. He finished off his Summer League time with a 13-point fourth quarter that saw him hit a couple threes and have a few nice takes to the basket. He averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds.

Akoon-Purcell could be a candidate for the other 2-way contract the Pacers have available. He struggled with finishing at the basket at various times in Vegas but had some impressive moments getting to the rim. It sometimes seemed like he was just out of gas. Shooting only 37% this week the big negative for him. He played a little with the Denver Nuggets in his rookie season so he has some NBA experience.

Goga Bitadze

Bitadze missed Summer League because of issues with his getting his visa approved in time. It was finally all resolved today and he was back in Indiana, but there was no real point in rushing him out for one exhibition game with no practices with his teammates. We’ll have to wait until preseason to get our first look at the first-round pick in a Pacers uniform.

Edmond Sumner

Sumner got just one game before a foot injury that kept him out of many of the practices prior to Summer League also held him out the rest of the week. He agreed to a new 3-year deal with the Pacers this offseason and looked a little anxious to prove he was worthy of it in his one game. He missed his first six shots and struggled with his handle. It was a forgettable performance.

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Pacers Press Conference Translator: Breaking down what to believe and what’s P.R. speak

The Indiana Pacers have had plenty of press conferences lately, but should we believe everything that’s been said?

Today, we’re not here to call anyone liars, but it’s easy to forget there are always public relations elements to running a basketball organization like the Indiana Pacers.

Sometimes, you’ve got to massage the message when you’re talking about things. Sometimes it may sound overly optimistic, but that doesn’t make it a lie. Just perhaps means a difference of opinion — a glass-half-full vs half-empty sort of situation.

We’ll call out lies if we see them, but in general basketball teams don’t need to lie as much as they need to handle the egos of situations to make sure someone isn’t pissed off for no reason — unless you’re in the Larry Bird school of public relations.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of Kevin Pritchard and the Pacers’ more recent statements and decided just how truthful they are, and how much is simply public relations speak.

One of the franchise’s best days?

Was acquiring Malcolm Brogdon one of the best days in the franchise’s history? Continue reading Pacers Press Conference Translator: Breaking down what to believe and what’s P.R. speak

Pacers Summer League: This is getting hard to watch

Another forgettable Summer League game for the Indiana Pacers as their struggles continued with a loss to the Atlanta Hawks by a final score of 87-67. Alize Johnson led the way with his second consecutive double double with 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Pacers held out most of their NBA players with minor injuries.

This was painful to watch for much of the game. Indiana made just 4 of 29 of their 3-point shots and turned it over 15 times. The Hawks were also holding out many of their better players including DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish.

Most of the enjoyable content came from the broadcast team of Jared Greenburg and Vince Carter (other than not being able to pronounce Alize correctly), who chatted with Malcolm Brogdon for much of the third quarter and were a pleasant distraction from the mediocre product on the court. Usually the Summer League broadcasts are painful but those two managed to have fun despite having a dreadful game to call. Continue reading Pacers Summer League: This is getting hard to watch

Pacers Summer League struggles continue

Indiana Pacers had another rough game overall in the Las Vegas Summer League as they lost 102-84 to the Detroit Pistons. Aaron Holiday struggled with running the offense against an NBA-caliber defender and Goga Bitadze (visa issues) and Edmond Sumner (sore foot) missed the second game.

As always, the results of these Pacers Summer League games don’t really matter but some of the details can give us insight. Here’s positives and negatives to takeaway from the second game.

Aaron Holiday

This was not a good game for the Pacers second-year point guard. It raised concerns about his ability to run an offense at an NBA level based on his decision making. In the first half, he went 2 for 9 from the floor and had four turnovers. Bruce Brown of the Pistons made his life difficult on offense and forced him into tough shots and Holiday didn’t do himself any favors by jumping in the air with nowhere to go. Continue reading Pacers Summer League struggles continue

Takeaways from Pacers Summer League in an ugly opener

The Indiana Pacers were blown out by the Memphis Grizzlies in their first Summer League game by a final of 101-75.

For the Pacers, this game featured a lot of the bad that can come with Summer League. They looked like a team that was unfamiliar with each other. Guys hunted their own looks as ball movement was at a minimum. Sloppy turnovers occurred throughout. It was an ugly game to watch.

There were some positives to takeaway from tonight but it certainly wasn’t Game 82 from last year (which featured a few of these Summer Pacers) on repeat like you’d have hoped. No Goga Bitadze in this one and at least the next one most likely as he continues to try and get his visa issues sorted.

As always, it’s important not to over value anything that happens in Summer League, good or bad, but here’s what was observed in this one:

Aaron Holiday:

Holiday was one of few positives in this one as a scoring machine. He had 24 points and showed off his ability to create his own shot but ended the night shooting an inefficient 8 for 22. Continue reading Takeaways from Pacers Summer League in an ugly opener

Pacers title would be ‘big reliever’ to Metta World Peace

Former Indiana Pacers player Metta World Peace wrote on Twitter, “In my lifetime, I would love to see the Pacers win a title. It would be a big reliever for me.”

The player formerly known as Ron Artest may still be feeling guilty about how the Malice at the Palace likely cost the Pacers their best chance at an NBA title. It’s not hard to see why them eventually winning a championship would be a relief to him.

Indiana looked poised to finally overcome the Detroit Pistons that year and had blown them out on their home floor on that infamous November night. One hard foul, a large scuffle and a tossed cup later, World Peace and Stephen Jackson were in the stands fighting the opposing team’s fans. Jermaine O’Neal punched people that came onto the court. Chaos ensued as the team tried to make it back to the locker room. One of the darkest moments not only in Pacers history but in the NBA’s.

Continue reading Pacers title would be ‘big reliever’ to Metta World Peace

What to watch for during Pacers Summer League

Indiana Pacers start their Summer League play on Saturday in Las Vegas. It’s a chance to see the rookies Goga Bitadze (if his visa issues are worked out) and Brian Bowen II for the first time in the blue and gold and to watch for a lot of the team’s younger players (Aaron Holiday, Edmond Sumner, and Alize Johnson) in larger roles than the normally have as they try to make their case for more playing time.

The results of the games may be meaningless but you can gain some insight by what happens during them. It’s always important to never overreact to anything good or bad during Summer League. A good week in Vegas doesn’t mean a player is destined for stardom and a bad week doesn’t mean they are doomed to be a bust. It can be a positive or negative sign for the player’s career certainly but it’s not definitive proof one way or another.

These games do have real consequences. Solomon Hill is the biggest example of that for the Pacers. Hill played so poorly in his third trip to the Orlando Summer League in 2015 that it likely factored into the team’s choice to decline the team option on the fourth season of his rookie contract. It ended up working out great for Hill, who ended up with a huge payday from the Pelicans after a half season of solid shooting, but these games help inform team’s decisions and guys are playing for their NBA lives in many cases.

Schedule:

The Pacers are scheduled for four games in Las Vegas and will play a minimum of five games, depending on how they do once tournament play begins. Many of the players that are likely to be on Indiana’s roster may only play those first four games, perhaps only three.

  • Saturday, July 6: Grizzlies at 7:00 p.m. on NBATV
  • Monday, July 8: Pistons at 5:00 p.m. on ESPNU
  • Tuesday, July 9: Hawks at 5:30 p.m. on NBATV
  • Thursday, July 11: Raptors at 6:00 p.m. on NBATV

Goga Bitadze

The Pacers first-round pick hasn’t been able to practice with the rest of the Summer League squad because of visa issues, but the hope is that he’ll be able to meet the team in Las Vegas to play at least a few games.

This would be the first chance for most Pacers fans to see the rookie in game action since he played professionally in Europe. In Europe, he was dominant as a teenager. He won the Adriatic League MVP award in 2019 and won the EuroLeague Rising Star and Adriatic League Top Prospect awards as well. Continue reading What to watch for during Pacers Summer League

How Nikola Mirotic indirectly caused the Indiana Pacers free agency moves

The Indiana Pacers made some significant moves on the first night of free agency and one player that won’t even play in the NBA next season may have indirectly made it all happen: Nikola Mirotic.

The day before free agency started Mirotic, who was reportedly in the market for a deal ranging around $45 million, decided to leave for Euroleague club Barcelona in his home country. And so began the Basketball Butterfly Effect where a Spanish forward flapped his wings across the ocean and a tornado of transactions rushed through the league.

But Mirotic was never even rumored to be on the Pacers radar in free agency, so how did his decision leave the NBA affect the team? It starts with the team that was interested in him. Continue reading How Nikola Mirotic indirectly caused the Indiana Pacers free agency moves

Under-the-radar guards for Pacers: Satoransky, Jones, Curry

The Indiana Pacers have plenty of cap space to make moves when free agency starts and plenty of holes to fill on the roster. Here are a few guys that are more under the radar that could help add some depth at the guard positions to the roster.

If the Pacers keep Bojan Bogdanovic as it seems is the plan (though the Utah Jazz are trying to swoop in when free agency starts), they have around $21 million in cap space to use on other free agents. These players could potentially be had for a smaller portion of that space than the players (some good options, some not so much) previously covered here in more detail:

Restricted: D’Angelo Russell, Malcolm Brogdon, Terry Rozier

Veterans: Ricky Rubio, George Hill, Patrick Beverley, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo

The max guys that aren’t coming: Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker

Tomas Satoransky

Satoransky is a restricted free agent so that complicates a potential deal but the Wizards may be pressed to let him go with their less than ideal cap situation. At 6’7″, Satoransky has a lot of positional versatility. He can play both guard spots and small forward. Continue reading Under-the-radar guards for Pacers: Satoransky, Jones, Curry

How Darren Collison’s retirement affects the Indiana Pacers

While the Indiana Pacers seemed unlikely to bring Darren Collison back in free agency, his surprising retirement at 31 years old will have ripple effects in the point guard market.

With one less appealing veteran guard available less than 48 hours before free agency begins, the price of every other free agent at the position could go up. Teams that were planning on pursuing Collison will have to look elsewhere for their floor general needs. Continue reading How Darren Collison’s retirement affects the Indiana Pacers

Pacers Free Agency: Rubio, Beverley, Hill

There’s perhaps no bigger need for the Indiana Pacers than a starting point guard. There are many NBA veterans hitting free agency that could fill in this role including Ricky Rubio, Patrick Beverley, and George Hill.

Ideally, the Pacers would probably look to sign someone like this to a short-term deal if they believe that Aaron Holiday will eventually take over the position down the line. Previously, we looked at possible options that could be seen as more long-term choices for the position but could be harder to obtain because of being restricted free agents:

Ricky Rubio

Rubio has been mentioned in many rumors connected to the Pacers. With ESPN’s Zach Lowe and The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor both reporting that he’s a major possibility to end up in Indiana. Lowe said the Pacers will be looking at many options, including the trade market, especially if Rubio’s market gets “too frothy” but there haven’t been many other teams rumored to be connected to him except for the Phoenix Suns. Continue reading Pacers Free Agency: Rubio, Beverley, Hill

Pacers Free Agency: Thinking Big

The Indiana Pacers have plenty of holes in the roster to fill during free agency. Perhaps none more glaring than at the point guard position.

There are many directions the Pacers could go and options that Kevin Pritchard and the front office can pursue. Indiana could try and make a play for a big name All Star like Kemba Walker or Kyrie Irving. They could look to the restricted free agent market to get young up-and-coming players like D’Angelo Russell, Malcolm Brogdon or Terry Rozier.  Veteran point guards like George Hill, Patrick Beverley, Ricky Rubio, Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo could all be available. Under-the-radar restricted free agents like Tomas Satoransky and Tyus Jones could both be targets if the Pacers thought they could do more with a larger role. And if none of these options work out or the remaining just aren’t appealing, Indiana could try to bring back one of their own in Darren Collison or Cory Joseph.

Currently, only Aaron Holiday and Edmond Sumner could play the lead guard position on the team. While Holiday is almost definitely going to get a larger role next season, it probably won’t be as a full-time starter in his second season. Sumner has shown flashes of potential and stood out in the G-League last year, but he’s more likely to be the emergency option at both guard spots if the Pacers pick up his team option than someone that gets consistent minutes every night. With Victor Oladipo out until December or January, finding someone that can carry the load of ball-handling duties would seem paramount.

The Big Fish: Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving

These are by far the most unlikely targets for the Pacers to end up actually signing among the many covered here, but Pritchard talked about wanting his front office to “think big” and there are no bigger options to pursue in free agency than Kemba Walker or Kyrie Irving. Continue reading Pacers Free Agency: Thinking Big

The Athletic: Kemba Walker’s ‘first priority’ is Charlotte

One rumored free agent target for the Indiana Pacers in Kemba Walker seems intent on staying with the team that drafted him if they can reach an agreement. Kemba Walker talked about his upcoming free agency with The Athletic’s Jared Weiss and his first choice would appear to be remaining with the Charlotte Hornets.

“Oh no question, Charlotte’s definitely my first priority,” Walker told Weiss. “That’s where I’ve been for eight years and that’s all I know. Not many people get a chance to play for one NBA team throughout their career. … People don’t understand, when they say you need to go ‘here’ and win, that winning is not guaranteed anywhere.”

The Hornets have a major advantage if they choose to use it with the supermax contract that Walker, who averaged over 25 points per game this season, qualified for by making the All-NBA third team. The Hornets were already the only team that could offer Walker a 5-year deal but now the value of the deal could be up to $221.3 million. Every other team can only offer a maximum of four years and $140.6 million, which the Pacers could create the necessary cap space for if they so desired. Continue reading The Athletic: Kemba Walker’s ‘first priority’ is Charlotte

Myles Turner calls All-Defense snub ‘blatant disrespect’

Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner was not selected to either of the NBA’s All-Defensive teams that were announced today.

At the center position, Rudy Gobert was selected for the first team and Joel Embiid was selected for the second team. Turner, the league’s leading shot blocker, received just one vote for first team and 37 for second team.

Turner was unhappy with the results calling it “blatant disrespect” on Twitter.

Kevin Pritchard replied to his center’s tweet with, “We know Myles!”

Thad Young, who received a pair of votes for second team, came to Turner’s defense.

Turner improved his defensive acumen from previous seasons with better footwork and being in position to block or challenge shots at the rim more often. His 2.7 blocks per game and 8.4 block percentage led the entire league.

Turner responded to not being one of the final nominees for Defensive Player of the Year earlier this week with a blue cap emoji 🧢 and did the same with the news today with two of them.

It looks like Turner will have plenty of extra motivation for his workouts this summer.

Tyreke Evans ‘dismissed and disqualified’ from NBA

Indiana Pacers free agent Tyreke Evans has been “dismissed and disqualified” from the NBA for violating the league’s and the NBPA’s anti-drug policy.

Under the program, Evans can apply for reinstatement into the league after two years. This could be the end of his career after a difficult season as he approaches 30 years old.

The NBA and the Pacers are not allowed to disclose any details other than announcing the dismissal of Evans.

Evans missed a few games over the course of the season for “personal reasons” that were never elaborated on as he had a year that failed to live up to expectations with the Pacers.

The Pacers offered their support to Evans in a statement the team released. Hopefully Evans is able to seek the help he needs.

Draft Prospects: Tyler Herro

With the NBA Draft coming soon, the Indiana Pacers have a multitude of options to consider with their first-round selection. One of those targets should be Tyler Herro.

With seven in-house free agents, the Pacers could draft a new point guard, a sharp shooting wing, or a stretch four. Just about every position other than center would appear to be on the table.

The Pacers won a coin flip to pick 18th instead of 19th or 20th. It’s the second time in the last three years that they’ve had that selection, taking T.J. Leaf in 2017. Pritchard was happy to end up at 18 in the season-ending press conference.

“This year I feel good that we’re going to get a good prospect,” Pritchard said.

What Herro would bring to the Pacers:

Herro gets buckets. The biggest thing he would bring is his ability to put the ball in the basket in a variety of ways. He shot 46% from the field overall, 93% from the free-throw line and made 35% of his 3-point attempts. Continue reading Draft Prospects: Tyler Herro

Plenty of positives for Pacers in NBA Draft Lottery

The Indiana Pacers weren’t a part of the NBA Draft lottery but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a rooting interest. The results went about as well as it possibly could have for the team.

There were many winners in the lotto on Wednesday. The New Orleans Pelicans being the literal winners with the Zion Williamson sweepstakes. The Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers both jumped up into the top-4 selections. There were also some losers. The team with the least amount of wins last season in the Knicks will pick 3rd. The Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers had the second-worst records in the NBA this season but will be picking 5th and 6th. The Chicago Bulls dropped all the way to 7th.

For a team that did not participate in all the festivities, the Pacers, whose first-round pick was already settled at 18th after they won tiebreaker with two other teams, “won” as much as they could possibly hope for in an event in which they weren’t actually involved.

First, Williamson, the consensus number one pick, will be going to a Western Conference team. The Pelicans seem to be the most fortunate with the timing of their lottery wins as they get a new franchise player as Anthony Davis wants to leave.

The Bulls and the Cavaliers both slipping down saw two of the Pacers Central divisional foes to lose their shot at Zion. Dropping much lower than expected limits their options even further. Chicago’s John Paxson listed things in the Bulls favor that sounds a lot like the Pacers list. Not a good night for the Bulls.

With the second pick going to the Grizzlies, this could push more speculation into one particular player that could be targeted this offseason. Indiana is faced with quite a predicament with their roster with so many free agents. After last night, maybe one of their question marks has been answered. A Mike Conley trade could be more likely to happen. Ja Morant from Murray State is already being reported as the likely pick for the Grizzlies and they may want to hand the keys to the offense to the rookie right away to let him grow with as much experience as possible. It’s no secret Memphis has been open to dealing Conley recently.

Conley, who will be 32 years old next season, is under contract for the next two years at a hefty price of $67 million combined but is coming off of one the best performances in his career. Conley, who averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game, grew up in Indiana and the Pacers sure do love their natives. His ability to score with the ball in his hands and run the offense would improve the Pacers tremendously. With Indiana not the most attractive destination in free agency, trading for someone like Conley could be their best bet to make a bold move this offseason.

A trade wouldn’t be without its risks since Memphis isn’t just giving him away. Could something like the 18th pick, Domantas Sabonis or Aaron Holiday, and salary filler be enough for them to bite? It’s unclear but the Pacers should look into how interested the Grizzlies would be in a potential deal. There were rumors that the Pacers made an offer at the deadline but talks didn’t get far.

The trade that cost the Pacers their chance at Michael Jordan

In the dark ages of the Indiana Pacers early NBA history of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the team struggled and made many poor decisions at least partially due to financial instability. Perhaps none worse than one trade that involved a future draft pick.

(30 for 30 voice) What if I told you that after the Indiana Pacers traded away their chance at drafting the player many consider to be the greatest of all time in Michael Jordan?

In 1981, Head Coach Jack McKinney led the Pacers to its first winning season (44-38) in the NBA and their first trip to the playoffs on his way to being named Coach of the Year. But the team’s success was soon cut down when starting center James Edwards was lost in free agency to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In order to keep pushing for the postseason, McKinney traded a first-round pick in the 1984 draft for Tom Owens, a journeyman center on the tail end of his career, to fill the void that Edwards left. Owens only played one season for the Pacers averaging 10.5 points per game and the team missed the playoffs with a 35-47 record.

Indiana then traded Mr. Owens to the Detroit Pistons for a second-round pick in the 1984 draft and won a combined 46 games over the next two seasons.

The Pacers finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference in the 1983-84 season and McKinney was fired. That draft pick they traded away for a short-term fix ended up being the second overall selection.

The 1984 NBA Draft is widely considered one of the best ever and ended up having five Hall of Famers. Hakeem Olajuwon went first overall to the Houston Rockets. The Portland Trail Blazers infamously took Sam Bowie and Michael Jordan fell to third with the Chicago Bulls. 

Maybe the Pacers would have made the same mistake the Blazers did and that’s the decision that would haunt them the most from the 1980s instead of the Owens trade. Or maybe Jordan would have led Indiana to multiple NBA titles like he did with Chicago. We’ll never know.

Donnie Walsh took over the Pacers personnel decisions in 1986 and steadily built the consistently competitive, respectable franchise that came closer than anyone to beating the Jordan Bulls during their dynasty as they took them to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1998. 

Jon Wertheim of SI.com once said the Pacers were trying to break the “curse of Tom Owens,” similar to the Red Sox curse of trading away Babe Ruth. With all their bad luck since he said that in the early 2000s, it rings a little more true: Malice at the Palace, the GQ Photo with the struggle of 2013-14, Paul George’s broken leg, and Victor Oladipo’s injury.

Aaron Holiday in line for increased role

In his rookie season for the Indiana Pacers, Aaron Holiday flashed his promise frequently but was often confined to the bench behind a pair of veteran point guards.

Don’t expect that to be the case in his second year.

“I feel he should be a rotational player next season,” said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan of Holiday during last week’s press conference. “There’s certainly some areas he needs to grow, but I like what he brings to the floor. He’s a young kid that has a great deal of confidence in himself. I think he can help us. … He certainly should be in the rotation next year.”

McMillan said he was impressed with him from the start of training camp and he earned the respect of his teammates too.

“I love Aaron, man,” Myles Turner said after the Pacers were eliminated from the playoffs. “He’s just so poised. I feel like any position he’s in he can be himself. You can’t make him speed up. You can’t make him get out of character.” Continue reading Aaron Holiday in line for increased role

Why Tyreke Evans didn’t live up to expectations with the Pacers

Tyreke Evans was supposed to be the secondary playmaker that could help push the Indiana Pacers farther in the playoffs but nothing went according to plan for either party.

After a disappointing season that never lived up to expectations, it’s as hard to see Evans wanting to come back to Indiana as it is to see Indiana wanting Evans back. Both sides are likely ready to move on from this one-year failed experiment.

A combination of a lack of freedom to make mistakes, a lack of rhythm from not having the ball as often, a nagging knee injury that required treatment multiple times and just poor play all contributed to his ineffective, frustrating year with the Pacers.

After being suspended for one game very early in the season for being late to practice (and being late a number of times prior to that), it seemed like Evans was in the doghouse for much of his time in Indiana, never fully regaining the trust of the coaching staff. Tardiness is Nate McMillan’s biggest pet peeve and Evans found out how seriously he takes being on time.

And Evans’s play while on the court did him no favors. He struggled to be consistently productive with major trouble finishing at the basket. He made just 49% of his shots within three feet of the rim according to Basketball Reference (a career low), ranking among the very worst in the league at finishing those attempts. All those misses were nice for Domas Sabonis, who was often in the right place for putbacks on his layups.

Evans, according to NBA.com’s play-type tracking data, made 134 of 308 layup attempts on the season (43.5%). Even though he struggled to finish at the rim, his ability to get to the rim was often helpful for the team as seen by the Sabonis put-backs. The Pacers often were able to get rebounds on these plays after the defense focused its attention on forcing a miss and either get an easy put-back or restart the offense. For a team that often struggled at getting to the basket once Oladipo went down, Evans ability to get to the rim was valuable, even if it wasn’t often successful. Continue reading Why Tyreke Evans didn’t live up to expectations with the Pacers

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