iPacers Biweekly Wrap: 11/8/2015 – 11/22/2015

The Pacers played 7 games in the last two weeks and only lost 2 games by a combined 5 points. They are now 8-2 in their last 10 games over the 0-3 start and sit at 4th-place in the East. In this 10-game stretch, the Pacers have had the best defense in the NBA by advanced metrics and currently have the 5th-best net rating in the NBA for the entire season. The Pacers defensive philosophy may have changed, but it’s as good as ever. Forcing turnovers was never a focal point in year’s past, but they currently average the 2nd-most steals per game in the league and forced 54 turnovers in the last two blowout victories against the Sixers and Bucks. Here’s some quick analysis on each player over the last two weeks:

1. Paul George: Paul George has never played better in his career than he has in the past two weeks. At this point, it’d be surprising if he doesn’t earn the Eastern Conference Player of the Month. While Paul George’s streak of 26 points came to an end at 8, it only happened in a game the Pacers won by nearly 40 points where George “only” scored 20 points in the first three quarters while sitting on the final frame of the blowout. No one is more responsible for how well the Pacers have been playing their past 10 games than PG.
Previous 2-weeks Stats: 21.5 PPG, 9 RPG, 4.3 APG, 2 STL
Previous Grade: A-
Current 2-weeks stats: 27.7 PPG, 8 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.3 STL
Current Grade: A+

2. Monta Ellis: Ellis stretch in the past two weeks reminds me of David West’s first year as a Pacer: not averaging as many points per game as in seasons of old and taking a step back as more of a secondary option on a new team. And, Ellis, like West, has stepped up in bigger moments in this first season as a Pacer and has a few 20-point games in the latest two-week stretch. Let’s hope the Pacers latest big free-agent signing is just as successful of a 4-year stint as David West was for Indiana. The most encouraging part of Ellis’ play in this stretch is that while his scoring is down, he’s been much more efficient than his reputation and is still finding ways to get others involved.
Previous Stats: 10.3 PPG, 3 RPG, 5.2 APG, 1.5 STL
Previous Grade: C+
Current Stats: 14.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 5.4 APG, 2 STL
Current Grade: B+

3. George Hill: Hill has continued to shoot extremely well from the corners. He’s been the beneficiary of many of Monta Ellis’ drives. The Pacers have gotten by in the last three games with Hill out with a respiratory infection, but they’ll be excited to have Sisqo back on the court. In the games before his illness, he was solid, if unspectacular.
Previous Stats: 15 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 3.5 APG, 2 STL
Previous Grade: A-
Current Stats: 12.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4 APG, 1 STL
Current Grade: B

4. CJ Miles: 3J has come alive the last three games especially while averaging 20 points in the stretch and shooting 50% from deep. He’s been doing exactly what the Pacers need of late: hitting threes and battling as much as he can on defense when matched with a bigger defender. He’s continued to get steals while guarding a bigger man in the post, and no team has really taken advantage of that mismatch directly. Although Pacers have still played much better with two bigs, it’s hard to pinpoint the struggles on Miles, who has done well in his matchups.
Previous Stats: 12.3 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, 2 STL
Previous Grade: B
Current Stats: 15.7 PPG, 2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.5 STL
Current Grade: B+

5. Ian Mahinmi: Mahinmi continues to look like a completely different player on offense compared to his previous seasons as a Pacer. He’s catching passes that haven’t been perfect, making nice finishes at the rim, completing one-dribble to the rim moves (even in the fast break!), and still hits the occasional jumper. Mahinmi’s free throw issue has still not been solved, and it’s clearly in his head at this point. It’ll limit his minutes the more teams try and succeed with the intentional foul strategy against him.
Previous Stats: 6.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1 APG
Previous Grade: B+
Current Stats: 6.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.6 BPG
Current Grade: B

6. Rodney Stuckey: Stuck’s only two games in this stretch have been attempts at playing through the pain of a badly sprained ankle. One game that he left early after reinjuring it and the Pacers most recent game. Stuckey’s very important to stabilizing the bench unit
Previous Stats: 10.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.8 APG
Previous Grade: B+
Current Stats: 6.5 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.5 SPG
Current Grade: B B for Badass trying to play through the pain

7. Jordan Hill: I’ve been critical of Jordan Hill from the beginning of the season, and he still frustrates me at times with his misses of easy shots. However, I have to give him credit. He’s been an a difference maker for the Pacers of late. The team is now 6-0 when Hill scores 10 or more points. He’s been much more consistent on defense lately in terms of being in the right position and generally showing more effort than early on as well.
Previous Stats: 9.6 PPG, 8 RPG
Previous Grade: B- (D for first two, A- for last three)
Current Stats: 9.3 PPG, 9 RPG, 2.3 APG
Current Grade: B+

8. Myles Turner: The Swat and Splash or Myles The Returner unfortunately had to have hand surgery and will be out for at least another month, but the rook has continued to show exciting potential. He still struggles at times on defense when defending in the post and getting fouls by trying to recover from being out of position, but these are expected struggles of a 19-year-old rookie still gaining strength and playing in his first NBA games. Let’s hope his injury doesn’t slow down his development much.
Previous Stats: 6.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG
Previous Grade: B
Current Stats: 5.3 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.3 BPG
Current Grade: B- (But A for Awesome at being injured)

9. Lavoy Allen: Lavoy has continued to do Lavoy things. Rebounding well on both ends of the court. He’s been generally solid; I don’t really have anything positive or negative to say.
Previous Stats: 3.3 PPG, 5 RPG
Previous Grade: B-
Current Stats: 5.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.2 APG
Current Grade: B

10: Chase Budinger: Air Bud has recovered nicely from his slow start as a Pacer and is making it hard for Vogel to take him out of the rotation for Glenn Robinson III once everyone is healthy. Maybe those first few games, Budinger still wasn’t completely healthy; he’s looked like a different player in recent games and has been a solid contributor for the Pacers of late even dunking on people in garbage time.
Previous Stats: 2.7 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1 APG
Previous Grade: D+
Current Stats: 7.9 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.9 APG
Current Grade: B+

11. Glenn Robinson III: Little Big Dog struggled to contribute like he did in his initial games of the season during this stretch until the last two games. However, Robinson really showed his full potential in those games by scoring 17 points and hitting all four of his 3-point attempts against the Bucks. He’s continued to show his leaping ability and athleticism with high-flying dunks. Other than perhaps Myles Turner and Paul Geroge (who seems to have reached his), GR3 has the highest potential of any player on the team.

Previous Stats: 8.5 PPG, 2 RPG, 0.5 APG
Previous Grade: A 
Current Stats: 6.1 PPG, 2 RPG, 0.4 APG
Current Grade: B+

12. Joe Young: Joey Bucket struggled with his shot a bit in his couple of games in the rotation. He never looked like he didn’t belong, but it would have been nice to see some more of his shots go down. It truly was about what you would expect for a rookie playing some of his first real minutes. He did have some nice assists in the Sixers blowout.
Previous Stats: Inc
Previous Grade: DNP
Current Stats: 4.5 PPG, 1 RPG, 1.5 APG
Current Grade: C

13. Solomon Hill: Ugh, the only bad part of this stretch for the Pacers was having to watch Solo play rotation minutes in a couple of games. Against the Sixers, Solo managed to look like he didn’t belong on the court. He’s had a couple of decent moments in garbage time, but he just hasn’t looked like an NBA player the vast majority of the time. Maybe I’m just being harsh and it’s the rust of hardly playing.
Previous Stats: Inc
Previous Grade: B for Benched
Current Stats: 3.7 PPG, 2 RPG, 0.3 APG
Current Grade: D+

14. Shayne Whittington: Assigned to Fort Wayne Mad Ants: Whittington is getting plenty of minutes in Fort Wayne this year and clearly has the green light to shoot. He took 10 three pointers in his first game. Unfortunately, the accuracy for his shot has not been there as he hit only one of those 10 shots from deep in the first game. He’s shooting 25% from long distance so far in the team’s four games. Not an overly encouraging start for Whittington so far. He did make a steal in a clutch situation that gave the Mad Ants the possession that set up a buzzer-beating shot that gave Ft. Wayne the win.
D-League Stats: 7.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1 APG
D-League Grade: C

15. Rakeem Christmas: Assigned to Fort Wayne Mad Ants: Christmas’ grade would have easily been an A in his first three games at Fort Wayne, but he struggled with his shot on Sunday and hit only 5 of 18 shots. He’s shown some nice moves in the post and is the Mad Ants leading scorer. This is exactly what the Pacers want to see from the 2nd-round pick, playing lots of minutes and having some dominating performances in the post.
D-League Stats: 20.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 0.3 APG
D-League Grade: B+

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