All posts by Ross Blauvelt

Pacers/IU Basketball fan all my life. 1/3 of @TheCorner3Show podcast/YouTube Channel.

Tales from the Block: The Return of Paul George

Tales from the Block: Welcome to Turners Block. In this column, I’ll try to bring a look at the games from inside the craziest, loudest bunch of fans in Banker’s Life Fieldhouse along with the Born Ready Crew. Pardon my absence these last few weeks. I was saving up for this game.

Admit it. When you looked at the schedule to start the season, the first game you looked for was that OKC game against Paul George (who for the rest of this article be referred to as Agent 13). Thankfully it was early in the season.

Continue reading Tales from the Block: The Return of Paul George

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Tales from the Block: Fan Zone Auditions

Quick, you’ve got 20 seconds to impress Myles Turner and Lance Stephenson to convince them you deserve Pacers season tickets. What do you do? How about trying your hand at poetry? Singing and dancing? Maybe paint your chest, use a dog as a prop, make a fool or yourself or just plain GET LOUD?!

That’s what most fans did this past Monday night when the final round of tryouts for the Turner’s Block charged by Dew and Born Ready Crew Fan Zones for this upcoming Pacers season took place at the Madame Walker Theater in downtown Indianapolis. MC’d by Pat Boylan of Sideline Guys and the Pacers Radio broadcast complete with his Bob Barker microphone.

Like in years past, the Pacers will have two fan zones again this season to follow in the tradition started by Roy Hibbert with Area 55 and continued with the G2 Zone, and Rodney Stuckey’s Crew.

This season your humble iPacers writer and TheCorner3Show host decided to try his hand at a fan zone. The last time I tried out was in 2012 for the G2 zone (Paul George and George Hill). But that was while I still lived in Fort Wayne.

My friend and I made it to the final round (everyone auditioned as a pair that year). We didn’t have a skit or an act, just a speech as to why we deserved the tickets.

We dressed in suits with sunglasses, Men in Black style, with Mad Ants jerseys underneath. Oh ya, we looked cool. While we were willing to make that dedication to drive down for each home game from Fort Wayne… they didn’t see it that way. Sadly, we were not awarded the tickets. Understandable but disappointing.

The team behind us played mock dodgeball. Literally smashing each other in the face and won ‘Golden Tickets’ (automatic win) in the process. Just goes to show what kind of energy level, commitment, and random creativity you have to bring to win these competitions.

Since then, Paul and George have been traded away, an Eastern Conference Contender fell apart, I moved down to Indianapolis, started writing for iPacers, and along with Alex and Zach, began TheCorner3Show (YouTube/Podcast). This year was the perfect year to try to win season tickets again!

The signup process was pretty straightforward. Fill out your basic info (name, address, etc). Submit a picture/video showing why you deserve tickets and link to a social media site of your own that backs that up. That’s all. Then wait for about a week to see if you’ve made the final round of tryouts. Which I did. CELEBRATE!

Even though I’d never been to the Madame Walker Theater before, it wasn’t hard to tell that I was in the right place by the amount of Blue/Gold walking around outside.

Once inside you registered by last name and selected which Fan Zone you would want to be a part of and took a seat to wait for Myles and Lance to enter. The entries literally filled a whole wing of the lower auditorium floor.

The mix of fans at the tryouts was about 80% previous fan zone members. Most having already done this before and successfully be selected. Gulp.

One fan next to me asked if I have tried out before. He felt confident that even though it seemed like there were 150+ people there to tryout, he had a good shot at getting into a zone since there were two fan zones.

Another fan said he had a great chance as last year him and his buddies painted their chests for Lance Stephenson, sent him the pic and Lance retweeted them. They actually won automatic tickets to Lance’s Zone right when they got up.

Lance Stephenson Entrance :

Best fans ever Myles and Lance TurnUp day

A post shared by Lance Stephenson (@stephensonlance) on

When the players entered, the fans erupted. Chants already starting. A preview of how it will be this season in the Block/Crew. Each player said a little something to us all, how Indiana has the best fans in the league!

I was about the 10th to have my chance on stage after I heard they were going to go by row, I moved up as close as I could. I was definitely nervous in front of two ‘star’ players and their families, plus the entire audience, but for a chance at free tickets and to support my team, it was worth it!

So what did I do? A simple speech. I know, BORING. But I was wearing full Myles Turner Hickory Gear. Shorts, tall socks and Myles shirt complete with headband. I talked about how I had tried out before but have since moved down to Indianapolis and started writing for iPacers and TheCorner3Show. If I was selected, fans of each would get an inside look at what being part of a Fan Zone is like. Plus I promised to loose my voice after each game. 20 seconds really is a long time once you’re in it.

The other two members of TheCorner3Show were there to cheer me on. I felt like I saw Myles nodding while I talked. Either he’s fan of this site or listens to the Pod. Here’s hoping.

I wasn’t able to stay through all the tryouts but of the ones before me here were some of my favorites (hopefully you got to see them on the Pacers Instagram story). One fan was a Pacer ‘nerd’. Another dressed in 10+ Pacers Jerseys AT THE SAME TIME! Another had a partner (they both had made the final round) and ‘dunked’ on Myles Turner. The opening Poem was pretty creative too by Andrew Adams. There were many many elaborate costumes behind me and I wished I had time to see them all.

And I’ve got to say, no matter how good or bad each act was, Pacers fans gave each audition tons of encouragement and applause. Classy bunch.

So now it’s a waiting game…. if you didn’t win automatic tickets that night, you had to wait until Friday to find out if you made it. Four days of nervous wait time, just hoping to get that email…

Friday morning another email went out… keep waiting and keep your eye on social media. Great. More waiting. Just tell me already!

Then around 3pm Friday my phone blew up with texts.

I HAD MADE Turners Block!!!!! So excited. The first game they want us to attend is the 1st Preseason game October 10th to go over how the season will go.

Thanks for following along on my adventure. Please share in the comments or on Twitter your own story and if you tried out too.

Hopefully we have a lot of Crew and Block members reading iPacers. I hope to put up more stories from Turner’s block this season and give you the reader, a chance to feel like you’re there too. Go Pacers!

 

Pacers begin their rebirth and introduce Oladipo, Sabonis and Collison

The Indiana Pacers introduced Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis and Darren Collison yseterday as the Pacers post Paul George era began. Here’s some quotes and what we can takeaway from the press conference.

If you missed the press conference, you can watch it in its entirety here.

Kevin Pritchard on Paul George: 

Pritchard began with nothing but praises for what George meant to the organization. We wish him (Paul George) the best. Some great plays over the last seven years. It’s tough, but we have to move on.”

Pritchard says he spoke with George on multiple occasions. It was a private conversation. He said PG wishes the Pacers well and wishes it didn’t go the way it did. “Paul is a very caring person. I think he wishes this would have been a little different.”

Pritchard on Oladipo and Sabonis:

“Both are winners. That’s why both were lottery picks, that’s why we sought them out to be part of this deal.”

Pritchard said he wants tough, togetherness, smarts, fliers, and young players going forward who compete night in and night out. New guys have the balance between rookies and experience. He made it clear that he sought these players out instead of only having teams making offers.

On trade rumors:

Pritchard: Less than 5% of rumors were true. Put out to the media for a reason. Probably not going to happen or wasn’t real. Boston offered the rights to Larry Bird even (joke).

On the team in general:

Pritchard: “I want to build this organization & have five guys that play together. We feel these guys are top-level talent.”

Pritchard: “This is a rebirth. We’re excited about the future. We wanted tough kids & guys who play together…We didn’t want to go down to the bottom. We want to be a competitive team. Everybody’s saying we have to go to the bottom; that’s not true. The Pacers don’t start at the bottom. We want to compete next year.”

Pritchard: Lots of models on really bad, competitive, or cap out. Our focus is on growth in front, with good kids all about the team and a surprise to the upside.

On making the Playoffs:

Pritchard: Until we know what the team is, no limit or ceiling on this team. Not sure what ‘team’ goals are yet. (Vague, but in the east, playoffs aren’t that far off)

More Changes to come? 

McMillan: Pritchard isn’t finished building the team.

Pritchard: There are free agents and trades that we’re still looking at. “Shooting is something I’d really like to add to this roster … Shooting is of imperative importance.” (literally an hour later, Bojan Bogdanovic is signed)

On Darren Collison:

McMillan: “He will be looked upon to lead us. Darren will be an old vet to lead this roster.”

Collison on how he’s changed since he was a Pacer the first time: I can definitely shoot better than last time in Indiana and more comfortable as a leader. Time in Sacramento wasn’t ideal.

Welcome back to Indiana Oladipo:

Oladipo: “To come home, there’s no feeling like it. To get off that plane the other day and realize I know where I’m at, there’s no feeling like it. This is where it all started. I’m a Hoosier.” (while wearing a ‘feathery’ cap, hope his jumper this year is feathery)

Did the IU connection influence Oladipo the signing?

Pritchard: Not at all.

Oladipo: IU fans are already there anyway.

Oladipo on if he there’s anything to his game we haven’t been able to see yet: “Just wait and see. (Smirk) Love the opportunity. Nothing like playing for the home team.”

 

Welcome Domantas Sabonis:

Sabonis: “At first I was in shock, but I’m excited for the opportunity. Ready for the season.”

Pritchard: Sabonis is a “great screen setter” and “underrated passer.” He can be one of five guys on a floor who can make plays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin Pritchard found what he was looking for in Victor Oladipo

For a couple of weeks, we heard non-stop rumors about Paul George. Would it be Boston? Maybe some high draft picks, Bradley and plan for the future. Could it be Cleveland? Maybe a 3-team deal with Kevin Love for draft picks again. Maybe Denver? Gary Harris could come back to Indiana. How about Portland? Loads of mid-first-round picks and a role player? Or just ship him where he wants to go in Los Angeles? Late-round firsts and Julius Randle is all they’ll offer? Pass.

Fast forward to June 30th hours before free agency officially starts, and I bet not a single fan or NBA junkie was expecting to hear Oklahoma City and Paul George spoken in the same breath. But Ramona Shelburne tweeted it (Woj was waiting to start his new ESPN gig at midnight) and the madness became reality.

Paul George was going to OKC for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. No draft picks involved in the deal. The Pacers made the trade official today.

While we all have our opinions on Kevin Pritchard should have done or should have taken, we’ll never know what any of the other offers actually were. We’ll hear rumblings, especially from Boston, but only Pritchard knows what he had on the table and why he felt like he couldn’t wait another week before pulling the trigger on the OKC deal.

While the trade has been mostly panned by critics, there are a few things to consider.

First: The draft isn’t a sure fire thing. Sure a top-15 pick is more likely to warrant a higher caliber player, but busts outnumber the success stories in some drafts. A known commodity that has some NBA experience and still has room to grow is sometimes better than an unknown draft pick. Even most of the rumored offered didn’t include a top-15 pick anyway.

Second: The OKC front office is one of the most esteemed in the league. They viewed Oladipo and Sabonis as obviously valuable. They just gave Oladipo a 4-year, $84 million contract extension. You don’t give that to a player you don’t think is any good. And they spent a first-round pick on Sabonis last year and it’s unlikely they were ready to give up on him after just one season.

“We feel very strongly about the potential Victor and Domantas bring to our team and what they mean for the future of the franchise,” said Pritchard in the Pacers statement officially announcing the trade. “Both are highly competitive, highly skilled and both are winners. That is why both were lottery picks, that is why we sought them out to be part of this deal.”

Of the three big names traded in the offseason (Chris Paul, Paul George, Jimmy Butler), Oladipo might be the best over Patrick Beverly and Zach LaVine.

So what are the Pacers getting in Oladipo and Sabonis?

You can read about why you should be cautiously optimistic about Sabonis here.

Victor Oladipo, 25, returns to Indiana where he spent three years collegiately down the road at Indiana University.

With a new era emerging for the Pacers organization, Pritchard has already told us what he wants the new identity for this Pacers team to look like.

“I think if you look at some of the teams that are successful, it gets a little position-less, and they just have flyers all over the court,” Pritchard said in his opening press conference as president of basketball operations. “It’s drive and kick and shoot a lot of threes, and then back on defense you can switch. I’d like to get more to that.”

He also emphasized physicality and toughness.

Let’s start with shooting, Oladipo, who averaged 15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game last season, has been steadily improving his jump shot each year of his career as his shooting percentages have gone up after each season. He’s gone from shooting 41.9% in his rookie season to 44.2% overall and from 32.7% as a rookie to 36.1% from 3-point range.

Despite popular belief to the contrary, Oladipo can shoot the 3-pointer, he’s just incredibly inconsistent. He’s similar to CJ Miles in the past in that he’ll go through stretches where he can’t miss, but then it’ll seem like he hasn’t made a three for weeks right after. These are his monthly percentages splits from long range:

October: 25%
November: 44.2%
December: 25%
January: 35.8%
February: 25%
March: 49.2%
April: 18.2%
Playoffs: 34.4%

If he can find some consistency with his shot, he might push that 3-point percentage up to 38-40% where defensives will have to respect his outside shot. This will be paramount to his long-term success as a Pacer.

This past season spent alongside ball dominant Russell Westbrook gave him plenty of opportunity to play off the ball and spot up more, albeit at the detriment of his driving preference. His catch-and-shoot ability has definitely improved.

Oladipo is known for having a great work ethic, so if he never finds a consistent shot it won’t be from a lack of trying.

On defense, Oladipo definitely fits the bill as a player that can switch onto multiple positions and in the defensive-minded mold Pritchard wants. He receives a handful of votes each year for the all-defensive teams and he’ll be a definite improvement defensively for the Pacers at the shooting guard position. So long, Monta Ellis.

The fact that he can play both ends of the court is best part about his game. He won’t be a liability on either end though he has room to improve in both areas. Per NBAWowy, the Thunder were a net 7.1 points per 100 possessions better with Oladipo on the court than off.

You just might not want him to be guarding any children.

If he spends time on the court with Lance Stephenson, Oladipo can guard point guards while Stephenson can run the offense on one end but guard bigger wings on the other.

Oladipo can also be a ferocious finisher at the rim as he won the Dunk of the Year at the first NBA Awards show and he’s competed in a slam dunk contest in the past.

As former Pacers player and current announcer Clark Kellogg once said, “Victor Oladipo is like a baby’s bottom, smooth and sometimes explosive.” At times, he does make poor decisions on his aggressive drives as he averaged nearly as many turnovers as assists (2.6 assists and 1.8 turnovers) last season. His assist numbers were career lows; however, that’s due to playing with Westbrook who ran everything in OKC.

But what is Oladipo’s ceiling? He’s now been in the league for four full seasons. Can he become more than a solid starter or rotation player? Is he just a great sixth man? The Pacers have him under contract for the next four years to figure out if he can become more. Time will tell if the Pacers bet on Oladipo was a good one.

Be patient with Ike Anigbogu who could be a steal

With the 47th pick of the 2017 NBA draft the Indiana Pacers selected, Ike Anigbogu a 6’10” 250 lb 18-year-old center from UCLA. 

“I wasn’t trying to think about where I was going to get picked,” said Anigbogu [AN-IG-BOW-GOO] after being selected. “It’s just the right program. I had a great workout with the Pacers, and I have TJ, so basically, this is the number one pick in my heart.”

Many mock drafts had Ike going much higher (ESPN’s Chad Ford had him at the Pacers #18 pick in his final mock) but fears of the knee injury being a future issue scared teams away. 

Ike (easier to type each time than Anigbogu) played in 29 games for UCLA as a freshman this past season, having missed some time due to issues with his knee. He had surgery to repair a right knee meniscus tear before the season and missed the team’s first five games. Knee issues plagued him through his senior year of high school and the concerns were enough for NBA teams for him to drop from middle of the first round to middle of the second. Will Ike overcome these injuries or follow the Jonathan Bender path? We shall see. 

Ike, who averaged 4.7 pts, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in only just over 13 minutes, is considered an elite defender with outstanding athleticism albeit extremely raw on offense. This isn’t a pick that will pay off right away, but the potential is there for Anigbogu to eventually become a starter in the NBA.

Ford had this to say about Anigbogu, a top-50 recruit going into college, in his draft profile, “He has a 7’6″ wingspan and built like a tank. An aggressive rebounder and shot-blocker. He already has an NBA motor, now just needs to add offensive skill.” 

All this at only 18 years old, the youngest in this year’s draft. He doesn’t turn 19 until October and already has an NBA body. You don’t see a kid this strong coming out of college very often.

“Just energy, just a guy who is willing to put it all on the floor,” said Anigbogu on what he brings to the Pacers. “Do all the dirty work, rim protection, rebounding, mobility on the perimeter, being able to switch some possessions, everything like that. Just a guy who’s going to continue to work on his game and evolve.”

Ike ranked third on the Bruins in blocked shots while his minutes were half that of the two players above him. His mix of elite shot blocking instincts, hard screens and toughness could make him an ideal enforcer type in a few years.

Weaknesses that he’ll need time to fix include his propensity to rack up fouls at an enormous rate (2.5 fouls per game in just 13 minutes) and picking up some offensive skills to make him less of a negative on that end. 

Consensus from most reviews after the draft on Ike: a steal if he can stay healthy. He’s a top-25 talent with great defensive skills, just needs to improve his offense. A potential player comparison I see right away: DeAndre Jordan or Hassan Whiteside.

One coach that knows Ike says he’s not afraid to disrespect another player which is something that’s perhaps very needed on this Pacers team. He’ll slam the ball on somebody and let em know about it. 

Side Note: Ike wore #13 at UCLA… wonder what he’ll wear as a Pacer…

The Pacers seem to be going younger at their big position. First round pick in TJ Leaf is 6’10” and looks to get minutes backing up Thad Young right away. While Ike will probably struggle to see the floor this year behind Myles Turner, Al Jefferson, Kevin Seraphin and Rakeem Christmas. With his youth and raw abilities, he may spend a lot of time with the Mad Ants early on before getting a chance to play. Don’t expect to see a lot of Anigbogu early in his career.

The Pacers did decline the team option on Lavoy Allen however making the path for playing time a little closer. Maybe Jermaine O’Neal can hand off some post play knowledge to Ike while he’s tutoring Myles Turner this summer.

Anigbogu, a California native, played AAU ball along with Leaf, then they went to college together at UCLA and now Ike joins him in the pros with the Pacers.

Draft Express highlights on Ike (“Enforcer”) Anigbogu:

Quick Player Profile:

Pros: Quick on his feet, fast off the floor, changes direction well, constant on the offensive glass and high energy. Definite defensive presence. Great in the pick and roll both defensively and offensively.

Cons: Touch around the rim, not as explosive in traffic, struggles with passes below the chest, jump shot needs work (only took eight jump shots the entire season), free throw percentage was 53.5%, post skills, maybe too eager to block shots leaving his teammates exposed, and fouls often. Many of these symptoms are common among young big men in the NBA.

 

Lance Stephenson made us all dance, perhaps none more than Kevin Seraphin

We continue our 2016-2017 player reviews with Lance Stephenson and Kevin Seraphin. If you’ve missed any of the previous reviews, you can find them here.

 Lance Stephenson

Season per-game statistics: 6.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 14 inspired teammates

Contract: Signed late in the 2016-2017 season to a 3-year, $12 million deal with a team option in 2018-2019. Lance played on three teams for six games each this past season (New Orleans, Minnesota, and Indiana). With injuries keeping him from sticking with the first two.

The Good: Lance being Lance and McMillan and the Pacers putting Lance in a position let Lance be Lance. A surprise signing right after Rodney Stuckey was waived due to injury. We even speculated who the Pacers could sign and take advantage of the opportunity to rid themselves of the final year of Stuckey’s contract. 

But Lance brought to the team something that was lacking. A fire on the court and just a love of basketball.  You could tell he’s having a good time and extremely grateful to be back playing for the team that he knows he never should have left. His first game back in Banker’s Life Fieldhouse against the Toronto Raptors will be one many Pacers fans never forget. The Pacers were down large to start but Lance injected his energy with his flashy play and playmaking ability, even found his jump shot that rarely was around for outside of his Pacers playing days. Even typically reserved Jeff Teague got fired up that game! That’s why they call it the Lance Effect.

His signing to the team came at a point when most fans had written off the season as a lost cause. Win one lose one. Why go see a game in person bleh.. but then it changed to, I can’t wait to see what Lance will do next! Bonus: The Pacers never lost a game that wasn’t against LeBron James with Lance on the team, going 5-0 down the stretch. It seems his time bouncing around the league had humbled him and taught him he had a good thing going in Indiana. Who wants to buy a Lance T-shirt for next season?

A little side bonus. Paul George and Lance are close. Perhaps the Lance signing can help convince Paul to stay in Indiana? If nothing else, it can’t hurt the Pacers chances.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2702273

The Bad: Lance being Lance. Most fans were wondering when/if the love fest would wear off. But to close the season it hadn’t. How will he play, though, when there are hard times? When the pressure is on?

For one, he’s got to improve his 3-point shooting. Teams were daring him to take the open three and to his credit he did a decent job of hitting those shots enough. He did seem to bring one of his legs oddly forward when going up for a jump shot, which made it look awkward but it was often successful in those limited chances. He still has a tendency to settle for far too many midrange shots and everyone knows Lance is at times going to dribble too much rather than just keep moving the ball on offense, but there was far more good than bad this year. 

Next season, the Pacers will need him to get and stay healthy. Injuries plagued his 2016-2017 campaign and if he can stay on the court, he can be a huge boast to this Pacers squad as a backup point guard running the bench. 

And honestly, to close the season there wasn’t a whole lot of bad to deal with in the second honeymoon. He only played six regular season games and four playoff games and for many of them, he was the Pacers’ 2nd best player behind Paul George. Let’s see if that can continue and the Pacers have re-found their diamond in the rough.

Kevin Seraphin

Season per-game statistics: 4.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.5 assists

Contract: Signed before the start of the season to a 2-year deal, reportedly $1.8 million per year.

The Good: Backup big man minutes. Signed as more of an after thought flier once free agency was essentially over to shore up the big position, Kevin showed why he was drafted with the 17th pick back in the 2010 draft. Injuries to Al Jefferson and Lavoy Allen gave him an opportunity and Kevin took advantage. A sneaky good finisher around the rim but his best attribute was running the pick and roll with Lance Stephenson. The two seemed to hit it off, off the court as friends that transferred on the court. Seraphin picked up his play more than any other Pacers player once Lance joined the team as the two found instant chemistry on and off the court.

With Stephenson in April, Seraphin nearly doubled with season average for points, putting up 8.5 per game in the final six games in only 14 minutes. Seraphin took more free throws in that 6-game stretch (12) than he had in the entire season before Stephenson joined the team (10) and gave him a serious boost of confidence.

Keep that rolling for the second unit please and Kevin has a chance at locking down the backup big rotation minutes. Side note: keep the fun Social Media posts coming!

The Bad: Assists and guarding more athletic 5s. Assists are sometimes hard to come by for a big man but with him running the PNR with Lance so well, there would be many opportunities for those two to create for each other and others. Currently Kevin looks to score first once he catches the ball.

With the majority of the NBA going away from a traditional center, the ability to contest and keep up with smaller more agile 5s is a must. If Kevin could show he can handle chasing guys like Anthony Davis while bodying Demarcus Cousin types in the post he could see his minutes increase.

Seraphin was often played out of position as a backup power forward with Al Jefferson at the center off the bench but they really just seemed to get in each other’s way. Dubbed the double plodders lineup by C. Cooper of Indy Cornrows, the Pacers struggled mightily with that duo on the floor. Seraphin and Jefferson were both far more successful when they were the lone big roaming in the paint area and need to be surrounded by as many shooters as possible. If both are still on the team next year, the Pacers can’t continue to make that same mistake again.

CJ Miles was the Pacers best floor spacer, while Lavoy Allen was a space eater

We continue our 2016-2017 player reviews with CJ Miles and Lavoy Allen. If you’ve missed any of the previous reviews, you can find them here.

CJ Miles

Season per-game statistics: 10.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 0.6 assists

Contract: Miles has a player option for 2017-18 that he will reportedly opt out of to become a free agent. He was making roughly $4.5 million and his next contract will be much more lucrative. Perhaps more than the Pacers can afford this offseason. In July 2014, the Pacers signed CJ to a 4-year deal after he played two seasons in Cleveland. This was his 12th year in the league after making the jump from high school.

The Good: Before the season started, Miles read a scouting report on himself that he’s only a shooter and made it a point to drive more and improve his weaknesses according to that report. But even with that emphasis, CJ still shot a career high from three (41.3%) and the Free-Throw line (90.3%). He was a valuable asset for the Pacers this season at the wing position be it off the bench or in the starting lineup as his numbers were nearly identical either way. When he did start however, he completed one of the best 5-man lineups in the league that outscored opponents by 7.7 points per 100 possessions.

This season did not have a repeat of last year’s problem of Miles guarding the power forward and getting beat up physically as he played in all but six games this season. But most importantly, outside Paul George, CJ was the player you wanted taking the three point shot and he lead the team in percentage this season.

Here is an example of what having a true threat from three does for your team.

The Bad: There’s not a ton of bad from CJ this season. He gave you what you expected and then some. Timely 3-point shooting that sometimes can come and go, but most of the time you could count on him to knock it down this season with that career high percentage. (Not counting that playoff Game 1….) Only major negative is that he most likely will move onto a new team next year. The Pacers will miss his shooting if they are unable to find a way to keep him. Other negatives have been issues his entire career but were mostly minimized this season: injuries weren’t an issue and his streakiness wasn’t nearly as pronounced as in the past. While his defense isn’t superb, he has shown the ability in the past to be a solid scheme defender.

He should have started more and perhaps been given the opportunity to play as the power forward with the bench more often but these are all coaching and roster construction issues rather than problems that Miles had. 

Lavoy Allen

Season per-game statistics: 2.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 0.9 assists

Contract: Team option for 2017-18. The Pacers will have to decide whether or not they want to keep Allen at his cheap $3.5 million or add that amount to the team’s cap space. This was Allen’s sixth year in the league. The Pacers acquired Lavoy in February 2014 as part of the Danny Granger / Evan Turner trade.

The Good: Hustle and offensive rebounds come to mind. A player in the same mold as Pacer cult hero Jeff Foster, who prides himself on going after offensive rebounds. This season saw the return of Lavoy’s jump shot as well though only after a horrendous shooting slump to start the season that had him making only 18% of his midrange attempts about halfway through the year. Plenty of ‘no no no yes’ moments with his offensive game.

It was mostly fun to watch Lavoy have fun. He farted in a game while on the bench and his birthday hangout with Pacers sideline reporter Jeremiah Johnson at Tapper’s Barcade after he best game of the year with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bad: Health and offensive game. Lavoy only played in 61 games this year either from injury or DNP-CD. But the biggest drawback to Lavoy’s game is his lack of offensive skill set. Teams know he isn’t looking to score and have no reason to fear a jump shot from Allen. And Lavoy around the rim (especially for a big guy) leaves a lot to be desired. 

Because of this, he often served as a space eater on offense that clogged the lanes, making it more difficult for drivers like Monta Ellis and Rodney Stuckey to do what they do best and Al Jefferson found it more difficult to score in the post without shooters surrounding him as well. When the Pacers tried to avoid the double-plodder lineups and paired Allen with Turner as much as possible (while Al Jefferson played more with Thad Young), it seemed to be more effective. While Allen did what he was best at, he was often a poor fit with the players around him like many players on this year’s version of the Pacers.

Stay tuned for the rest of the team to come.

GR3 soared, while Monta went down in flames: 2016-2017 Player Reviews

The 2016-2017 season has come and gone with an up and down year for the Blue and Gold and an interesting, highly important offseason to come with the Paul George situation looming. Here’s the start of our player season reviews with a look at Glenn Robinson III and Monta Ellis.

Glenn Robinson III

Season Per-Game Statistics: 6.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 0.7 assists

Contract – Under Contract through 2017/18 for $1,090,500 in the last year of his deal. This was his third year in the league. July 2015 the Pacers signed GR3 to a 3-year deal after the 76ers opted to not give a qualifying offer.

The Good – So much good here in Robinson’s mini-breakout season. A player acquired during the summer of 2015 based of potential only who most thought as a fringe rotational player, finally started to show some promise of his skills from his game winner against Atlanta to his NBA Slam Dunk championship. Glenn’s athleticism has always been his strength but this season he added shooting (39% from 3-point territory) and a little bit of defense to go along with it. A 3&D wing the Pacers desperately needed and even filled in adequately for a brief period while Paul George was hurt.

If he can continue to develop his all around game (shooting / defense) and keep his confidence up, he can be an asset in the rotation going forward, perhaps even starting some at the 2-4 spots. His injury late in the season caused Nate McMillan to (mistakenly) start Monta Ellis again so the bench could still have some shooting with CJ moving to the reserves. His importance to the team was never more clear.

The Bad – Confidence. Glenn needs to keep playing like he belongs. Too often he can drift and disappear on the court. When he’s out there, he needs to be noticed. Either by his athleticism on offense or hustle on defense. Especially when he’s playing with the second unit. When he’s starting, the team needs him to fill up the boxes by doing the little things. Blocks, hustle, etc. You wonder how much of him disappearing at times is because of who the ball was typically given to when he was in the game. The bench was typically run by ball dominant players like Rodney Stuckey or Ellis. Perhaps we’ll see a larger role for Robinson next year and a willing passer like Lance could lead to more opportunities for Sky Dog.

The injury that sidelined him near the end of the season (right when he was hitting his stride) is not chronic (calf strain). But hopefully those injuries do not become a habit.

Monta Ellis

Season Per-Game Statistics: 8.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists

Contract – Under Contract for 2017/18. $11,227,000, two more years on his deal with the last year (2018-19) a player option (The Pacers can terminate the player option by releasing Monta Ellis anytime before the end of next year’s regular season like they did with Rodney Stuckey this season). This was his 13th year in the league. In July 2015, the Pacers signed Monta to a 4-year deal worth $44 million after he opted out of his contract with the Dallas Mavericks.

The Good – Most fans would say, is there any? While there were many negative Monta moments and themes over the season, 6th-man Monta was a positive at times when Coach McMillan played him there instead of with the starting unit. His ability with the second unit to create and set up teammates was something the Pacers were missing before the acquisition of Lance Stephenson.  If he would accept the role of the bench, facilitating and attacking the rim (not shooting), he has a shot at being a top 6th man in the league. The problem is that if Stephenson continues to come off the bench, there’s really no role for good role for Ellis on this team.

The Bad – Now time for what fans want. Monta shooting threes = bad. Monta dribbling out the clock / ball stop = bad. Monta on defense (especially when Jeff Teague is on the floor too) = bad. Mostly, Monta on the floor with other players who need the ball to be successful (Teague, Lance, Stuckey, Brooks). Thanks for all the ball dominant guards that also aren’t great shooters, Larry! Trying not to kick a guy when he had a down year (lowest PPG of his career since his rookie season with 8.5ppg), but he’s getting older (31 wait, that’s old!?) and a wing who can’t guard anyone (remember the LeBron fast break dunk in the playoffs? ya, I’d rather not) or shoot threes, is a liability.

Best case this offseason is the Pacers somehow find a taker for Monta’s contract that they can sell as an expiring, but they still might need to sweeten the deal with a draft pick just to rid themselves of Ellis (and potentially Al Jefferson, but that’s another player review).

 

iPacers Awards 2016-2017

The NBA awards (minus the All-NBA teams, cross your fingers for Paul George) will not be announced until later this month (Update: George did not make an All-NBA team) during the NBA Awards Show, but we can discuss our Pacers season awards right now! The iPacers writers have each weighed in on categories ranging from MVP (not named Paul) to Best Play for the 2016-17 season that just wrapped up for the Blue and Gold.

Be sure to follow our team on twitter: Editor-in-Chief Derek Kramer, @iPacersblog, and our three Contributors: Ross Blauvelt (@TheCorner3Ross), Alexander Grant (@Vegas_SportsGuy) and Joe Betz (@Joe_Betz_).

After the season we just endured, a little positive reminiscing is good for the heart. Let’s think of the good times like Paul George’s play from March through the playoffs, Reborn Ready, Thad Young and GR3’s game winners, and the games that Monta didn’t start. Here’s our awards for the 2016-2017 season.

MVP (not named Paul George):

Derek Kramer: Second-year big man Myles Turner gets my vote. The Pacers outscored opponents by 3 points per 100 possessions with Myles Turner on the court, but were outscored by 5.9 points per 100 possessions with Turner on the bench. The Pacers were 8.9 points per 100 possessions better with Turner on the court than off. That 8.9 point differential is surpassed only by Paul George’s mark of 10.9. The Pacers were a mess defensively all season, but Myles Turner was still a force as a rim protector. While Turner still has plenty of room to grow on both ends (especially in the weight room), he’s already the Pacers 2nd most valuable player. While his offensive role strangely declined over the second-half of the season, hopefully McMillan will look to turn him loose next year instead of wanting him to “distribute the ball more.”

Joe Betz: Thaddeus Young. Look no further than his time missed due to his wrist injury and the way the Pacers played toward the end of the season as his wrist began to fully heal.

Alexander Grant: Jeff Teague.  Playing for his hometown team, he averaged a career high in assists at 7.8 per game, and he also played in ALL 82 games.  He has stated he’d like to stay in Indiana so hopefully the business side of the game allows it.

Ross Blauvelt: Thad Young. Glue guy. Without him due to injury the team slid. Just does it all for this team. Not flashy, but gets it done.

Most Improved Player:

Joe Betz: Myles Turner. He improved in several areas, taking a nice second year bump. The third year leap is needed for the Pacers to compete, however.

Alexander Grant: Glenn Robinson III.  He proved to be a nice rotational piece with a decent jumper.  His trajectory as a player is clearly trending up, and winning the 2017 Slam Dunk Contest put the Pacers in a favorable national spotlight.  He can be a foundational player for the franchise in the foreseeable future.

Derek Kramer: This article from the Bleacher Report gave Myles Turner the title for the entire league as the Most Improved Player based on the metrics of RPM and NBA Math’s TPA, since I already talked Turner up in the previous award section, I’ll let that article do the talking for me here. GR3 with an easy second place. Third place goes to Rakeem Christmas for showing he can potentially be an NBA player for that brief stretch after the All-Star break. You could even argue Paul George with his career highs in scoring and in most shooting categories.

Ross Blauvelt: This one was tough. Either Glenn Robinson III or Myles Turner for me. Have to go GR3. Myles had an amazing start and did progress on year one but regressed in some ways as well. Year 3 will be interesting. Glenn went from end of the bench to major rotation/energy player down the stretch. Oh and Dunk Champion doesn’t hurt.

Best New Addition:

Joe Betz: I give this to Teague. It would be Thaddeus’s to win here if he hadn’t missed time. Teague’s durability was huge.

Alexander Grant: Jeff Teague.  Hopefully he doesn’t leave Indiana, but as an unrestricted Free Agent he will undoubtedly command more than his current $8M/year price tag.  Larry Bird tried to get an extension formalized after trading for Teague, so the interest to stay in “Naptown” appears to be mutual.

Derek Kramer: There are only two choices here: Thad Young or Jeff Teague. Without Thad Young’s wrist injury this would have been much tougher, but the kid from Indianapolis wins this one. Teague had a career year as he heads into free agency.

Ross Blauvelt: Jeff Teague. Starting PG, floor leader. In trading Off for Def in a way in giving up GHill, Jeff produced. Please come back.

Comeback Player of the Year:

Joe Betz: Lance. ‘Nuff said.

Alexander Grant: Lance Stephenson.  The way Stephenson played to end the regular season, along with being stellar in the playoffs makes this category easy.  I can’t help but wonder as a Pacers fan “what could’ve been” if Born Ready was signed earlier in the season.

Ross Blauvelt: Lance, welcome back #BornReady.

Derek Kramer: It took a combination of three injuries and a weird contract quirk to get Lance Stephenson back to the Pacers. Stephenson looked poised to have a consistent role on the Pelicans before his injury forced the Pelicans to waive him due to other injuries, then he sprained his ankle while with the Timberwolves as they decided to move on from him once his 10-day contract expired. Meanwhile in Indiana, Rodney Stuckey suffered another injury that would keep him out for the remainder of the year and because the Pacers could eliminate his player option by waiving him before the end of the season, they decided to move on. All the stars finally aligned for the return of Born Ready, and it was glorious.

Best Game:

Derek Kramer: One of my favorite games this year was the first game against the Oklahoma City Westbrook and friends. No Paul George that night, but so many Pacers stepped up to win a tight game on the road against a good western conference team. Jeff Teague scored 30 points on just 16 shots with 9 assists, while Russell Westbrook had his typical 30-point triple double, but needed 34 shots to get his 30+ that night. The Pacers meanwhile put up a triple double-double as a team: Thaddeus Young had 20 and 10, Myles Turner had 15 and 10, and Glenn Robinson III stepped into the starting lineup and put up 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Joe Betz: Final Raptors game at home. Huge comeback + Lance’s first game back in the Fieldhouse + salty Raptors = happiness. Plus, it was PG13 bobblehead night.

Alexander Grant: There are a lot of games to choose from but I’m probably going against the grain here and choosing the double-OT contest versus the Cavaliers on April 2nd.  It was a disappointing end result, however the game showed the Pacers can compete.  Couple this OT thriller with the playoff matchups, the Pacers showed the were not going to back down from the LeBron-led champs.  The games came down to the wire each time, and they showed there is hope for Indy fans.

Ross Blauvelt: In a loss, it has to be the OT loss to the Cavs. PG vs LBJ. Epic. In a win, first game of the season vs the Mavericks. Showed what Myles’ potential is as he opened the season with 31 points and 16 rebounds.

Best Pass:

Joe Betz: Anytime Monta Ellis successfully moved the ball from his hands to another player.

Best Play:

Alexander Grant: There are multiple candidates for this category. Thaddeus Young had a couple dunks, and Myles Turner can certainly make some stellar defensive plays. However, the game-winning three pointer by GRIII at the Atlanta Hawks on March 5th takes the cake.

Derek Kramer: I was so moved by the game-winning 3-pointer by Glenn Robinson III against the Hawks that I was compelled to write a poem. So, I think I’m obligated to go with that one, even if I’m not a good poet.

Ross Blauvelt: GR3’s game-winning 3 vs the Hawks. His star continues to rise. If it wasn’t that: Then it was up to Thad’s dunk on Terrence Jones or PG’s dunk on Clint Capela. Or better yet, the entire 1st half of Game 3 vs the Cavs! (Editor’s Note: Now, I’m depressed again.)

Most Surprising:

Joe Betz: Nate McMillan’s decision making. From starting Monta Ellis to consistently playing lineups that he knew weren’t working and so much in between, it was a rough first year for McMillan.

Derek Kramer: The Pacers inability to defeat terrible teams. The Pacers lost far too many games this season that should have been won and winning just two of the following games against bottom feeders of the league would have put the Pacers in the 5th-seed this season: Nets, Knicks [twice], Pelicans, Sixers, Suns and Mavericks. Inconsistency was a major issue for the Pacers this season.

Alexander Grant: This Pacers team beat some pretty good Western Conference teams. Granted they only played two matchups apiece, the Pacers did not lose to the Houston Rockets, LA Clippers, or Oklahoma City Thunder.  Definitely surprised me.

Ross Blauvelt: Hiring of Nate. Bird wanted the team to play faster and with a new voice. So they hire Nate McMillan who’s been on the sidelines as an assistant for years and one of the slowest pace coaches on record. Huh?

Most Disappointing:

Joe Betz: Team award. This team had the opportunity to be a top 4 seed, but PG didn’t truly play like an All-Star until after the break, the offense and defense were like shambling Frankenstein monsters, and Al Jefferson’s ankle exploded.

Alexander Grant: The signing of Al Jefferson, and to see him not log a single minute of playing time in the playoffs.  He was a horrible fit with the team, and I’m still wondering why the deal happened in the first place.  The NBA today is spread out and three pointer happy.  Larry Bird knows this and still signed the flat-footed Jefferson.  He is a throwback player that should not be on the roster.

Ross Blauvelt: This team. On paper before the season most fans were super excited at the Pacers chances. With some thinking the #2/3 in the East was in the cards. Then the team was so up and down barely squeaking into the playoffs. Honorable Mention to how poorly Monta Ellis and Al Jefferson played at times.

Derek Kramer: I was a lot more hopeful in Al Jefferson. It was very discouraging to hear Kevin Pritchard say that he thought Big Al was out of shape all season and that was partly why he struggled this year. Not all of the issues were his fault as the roster and coaching didn’t allow him to often be in an advantageous situation with a lack of shooting surrounding him and his paint space being eaten away by Lavoy Allen or Kevin Seraphin for much of the year. Perhaps most disappointing though was his effort on defense. I didn’t expect Al to be good at defense, but so many times he would lazily foul a guard with his arms as he sped past him instead of trying to contest a shot at the rim. Monta Ellis’s rapid decline this season gets second, but his fit with Teague was an obvious issue in the summer.

Please Come Back Award:

Joe Betz: Jeff Teague. Teague’s personality is a bit strange, but he loves Indianapolis, is a top 10 PG talent, and attacks the basket. That’s all I’ve ever wanted…

Alexander Grant: Jeff Teague.  He is about to assess his market value and I hope the Pacers can pay him.  Not only because he had a career year and is a hometown guy; Teague makes the roster more attractive for potential Free Agents (Paul Millsap?!).

Derek Kramer: Paul George will be the obvious answer here next season when he hits free agency if he doesn’t sign an extension this off-season. Teague is the obvious choice this year, but CJ Miles may be as important as bringing Teague back. The Pacers are already thin on shooting with 3J, and after shooting 41% from deep this year he’s in line for a pay raise. He’s been a selfless teammate the last two years as he volunteered to play power forward two years ago and never cared whether he started or came off the bench. The Pacers had a top-5 lineup in the NBA with CJ Miles playing with the starters this season, and they’d do well to keep that unit intact coming into next season.

Ross Blauvelt: Jeff Teague. Outside of the obvious who else would play point guard next year if he’s not brought back (Lance?, Joe Young?!), Jeff played exceptional when the ball was in his hands. Yes, the Pacers give up some defense with him on the floor but his offense at times makes up for that.

 

Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick-Cap: Pacers clinch playoff berth with win, will face Cavaliers

The last Indiana Pacers game I attended this season was against the Timberwolves two weeks ago. Mind you it was Pre-Lance, but it was a uninspiring game to witness in person. 

After the Lance Stephenson acquisition, the 4-game win streak, the playoff race; I knew I had to attend the last game of the season Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks. (Thank you for injecting life into this team Paul and Lance.)

Most Pacers fans knew what was at stake. A race for the 7 through 9 seeds dwindled down to three teams and two playoff spots. A Pacers win, and they were in the Playoffs with the 7th seed. A loss, and they would need either a loss from the Bulls (vs Nets) or the Heat (vs Wizards). Turns out, both those teams trailing the Pacers won on Wednesday so the Pacers had to come up with a victory if they wanted this season to continue.

Thankfully the Hawks had already locked up their playoff spot and decided to rest their usual starters. Take a look at this Hawks starting lineup and I dare you not to say, “Who?” at least once. 

Jose Calderon (Still in the league!), DeAndre Bembry, Kris Humphries (also still in the league?), Ersan Illyasova, and Taurean Prince. We’ll call them the B-Team. No Millsap, Hardaway, Dennis, Bazemore or Howard. Thank you Hawks.

The game was relatively close through the first quarter with the Pacers having a slight advantage and stayed that way through the second. But the Pacers came out of Halftime on a mission to wrap up their playoff berth. The Pacers lead by as much as 18 pts. The Pacers were lead in scoring by Paul George’s 32 pts and 11 rebs (ALL NBA!) and 19 / 18 pts respectively from Jeff Teague and Myles Turner.

Jeff Teague appeared to roll his ankle late in the fourth, but came out after the game to sign autographs. The assumption is it is not serious, fingers crossed.

Atlanta was paced by Illyasova’s 15 pts. The Hawks B-Team put up a fight near the end to bring the lead down to 9 in the 3rd, but the Pacers rallied back behind their fearless leader. The Pacers continue to have trouble defending the 3-point line giving up open 3s. PG ended the season with career highs in points (23.7 ppg), field goal percentage (46.1%), 3-point percentage (39.4%), and free-throw percentage (89.8%). Someone wants that ALL NBA spot.

Highlight of the game. Watching the budding relationship between Kevin Seraphin and Lance Stephenson running the pick’n roll. It could be a force going forward.  Oh and count’em. Two whole TEAGUES on the Teague counter for drawing fouls on jump shots.

Tune in Saturday at 3pm on ABC (PRIMETIME!) as the Pacers travel to Cleveland to play LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Here we go.

Paul George Named Eastern Conference Player of the Week

Indiana Pacers fans have known Paul George’s importance and dominance all year long and on April 10th, Paul was awarded the NBA Eastern Conference Player of the week for April 3-9. You can see some of his highlights below. Someone seems to be hungry for the All NBA selection.

Paul averaged 31.7 points per game (top in the East for that week), shooting 57.4 % from the field while the Pacers went 3-0 with wins over the Raptors, Bucks, and Magic. This is Paul’s first Player of the Week this season and 1st since Nov 30th last season. This doesn’t even include his 43 points against the Cavs.

While many want to chalk the Pacers current success on the return of Lance “Born Ready” Stephenson, it has been the consistent and dominate performance from Paul George that has carried this team. Lance may have lit a fire under Paul but it’s Paul George’s determination to make the playoffs that has shined through.

Really since early March, Paul has played with intensity and a fire. Many times, that is all you need to win NBA games. Just have the best player on the floor. Think back to the Raptors playoff series last year.

In the month of April 2017 alone Paul has averaged 30+ ppg, 8+ rbs, and 4+ assists per game in 5 games. He has a strong chance at wining player of the month award as well. Which he again hasn’t done since November of last season. It’s a great time for PG to turn on the playoff mode while the Pacers ride his hot streak and a 4+ game win streak hopefully deep into the playoffs.

Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick-Cap: Alternating W/L Continues with a W Against the Jazz

Stream of consciousness from the @Corner3Ross on tonight’s game.

Before Tipoff

-Nice standing ovation for George Hill and Gordon Hayward. First game back for GHill since the trade. Most fans must still have NCAA on the mind. GODAWGS! I mean PACERS!

-2nd game of a Back to Back which the Pacers normally lose, but, they lost yesterday to the Raptors and like to trade wins with losses lately so…

-A whole lot of Indiana talent on the court. GHill, Hayward, Teague, Trey Dog, Lyles… Only 2 stayed in state. Indiana schools missed out.

1st Quarter

-Aaron Brooks is the first guard off the bench after being out of the rotation most of the year. 2 things with this. Stuckey has really hit a funk and Joe Young really must be that bad at defense to not even get a crack.

-Gordon Hayward has been attacking the rim a lot more this year and it’s paying off. He’s got 10 pts out of the Jazz first 14. On the flip side, Paul George is held scoreless in the 1st…

-And yet, the Pacers lead 28-23 at the end of 1. I’ll take it

-Maybe the Pacers should seriously look into the Hayward Free Agency and not resign PG… nah.. or.. no.. stop it

-Myles Turner still looks hesitant to take a shot but, he’s playing stellar defense. Added a few to the #MylesHighClub already. Did I just hashtag in my head?

2nd Quarter

-Big Al playing over Christmas. Jeff Withey is one of the only bigs Al can play against and dominate still. Non mobile.

-It’s 39-32 middle of the 2nd and PG+Teague+Turner are 3-15 but the Pacers are winning. What is happening?

-CJ Miles has 13 pts on 4-5 shooting. And he’s a Free Agent this summer. Why? WHY?

-Halftime 51-46 Pacers lead. PG 2 to Hayward’s 18. OKIE DOKIE

3rd Quarter

-$20 isn’t bad for the Rik Smits mullet shirt.. oh! Back to the game

-Myles post up!

-Joe Johnson has been playing for 16th NBA seasons, 7 time all star. Feels like forever.

-Gordon Hayward is very very very good at this basketball thing. 30 pts through 3. His 11th 30 pt game this year.

-PG scored! Missed his first 9 shots. Phew.

-The Atlanta Hawks are currently losing to the Hornets. If they lose the Pacers are only a game back of 5th in the East playoff race.

-Jeff Teague is learning from Myles Turner with that chase down. JeffHighClub? TeagueLeague?

-Miss It For Biscuit. Still one of the best promotions in the NBA. Got to remember to run by Hardees tomorrow. Pacers up 80-70 end of the 3rd.

4th Quarter

-I kind of miss the old school NBA of post up when we could watch Albus Jefferson go to work each night often. Was he ever called Little Al?

-Jeff Teague outplaying George Hill tonight.

-Mark Boyle says Rudy Gobert’s father was Rik Smits backup at Marist College back in the day. #TheMoreYouKnow. Also I’ve just thought about the Dunking Dutchman twice in hour.

-Jazz are making a run. Gobert and Hayward leading the charge. Of course they are. Close this out #GoPacers

-My computer keeps wanting to change Gobert to goobers.

-Jazz coach Quinn Snyder looks like the Bank Manager at the start of The Dark Knight. ‘What do you believe in!’

-PG had a season high when the Pacers played in Utah earlier this year and tonight Gordon Hayward has a career high 38

-PG hitting BIG shots when the team needs it the most even when he’s been playing poorly. Yelling ‘This is my City’ while he does.

107-100 Pacers win. On to Boston!

 

Rebounding struggles have improved for Pacers since All-Star break

Rebound: undefined period following the break up of a romantic relationshi… oops wrong definition. Basketball Rebound: gain possession of a missed shot after it bounces off the backboard or basket rim.

Once known as a defensive-focused team who controlled the glass, rebounds are hard to come by for the Indiana Pacers this season. Currently the Pacers are 2nd to last in Defensive Rebound Percentage (Percentage of available rebounds grabbed, last place is NYK) and near the bottom (26 of 30) in total rebounds per game. In total rebounds, the first Pacer listed is Myles Turner at #32 overall with next listed being Paul George at #62. So… not good.

Many factors go into not being able to control the boards of course. Personnel, style of play, effort, opponent, etc. And for the Pacers there is no simple answer besides a little bit of all of these. Head Coach Nate McMillan knew this was a potential issue before the season even began with how the roster was set up.

“One of the concerns, or things we will have to improve on, is our rebounding,” McMillan told 1070 the Fan in early October. “We’ve played pretty much a big lineup the last couple of years; we’ve been able to rebound the ball. We’ve got to rebound the ball this year, that’s going to take a team effort.”

When the Pacers win or match the opponent in the rebounding battle, they tend to win games. But that hasn’t happened often enough this season.

This season the Pacers have won or tied in 26 of their 65 games so far and are 18-8 when they do so. When they lose the rebounding battle, they are 15-24. The Pacers magic number seems to be about 43 rebounds a game. Hit that, and they are almost guaranteed to win the rebounding battle.

“It’s got to be more of a collective effort, because we don’t have that big tree down there that takes up a lot of space,” CJ Miles told the Indy Star earlier this season. “Wings have to crash. And we have to help out our forwards like Thaddeus. I won’t call him undersized, but he’s not as big as some other guys and when you wrestle with guys like (the Cavaliers’ Tristan Thompson), you gotta come help him.”

It is not the cure all though to win the rebounding battle though. If you can’t win on the boards, you need to make it up in other spots. Either from the 3-point line or Foul Line.

Recently things have been looking better on this end however. Since the All Star break, the Pacers have tied or out-rebounded their opponent in all but one of their games. (The outlier being that clunker of a game against the Charlotte Hornets).

Since the Pacers don’t seem to have the personnel to consistently win the rebounding battle (no 7-footers on the roster and their center still just 20 years old and growing into his body), they have to rely on effort play to get there and gang rebound or hope it’s a cold shooting night by their opponent.

“We don’t have a lot of world-beaters (in that area), so our team schemes have to be solid, our defensive shell has to be solid,” Assistant Coach Dan Burke told the Indy Star. “And we need everybody to crash. That gang mentality has to told steady every game.”

Effort on the glass is one of the reasons why players like Rakeem Christmas and Lavoy Allen have had so much of an impact in their limited time on the floor of late.

Since Christmas had his first large minutes game against the Grizzlies right after the All-Star break, the Pacers have only been out-rebounded only once. He’s averaging three rebounds a game in 11.5 mins per contest, with minutes coming when Albus Jefferson was out with Dental Work (shout-out to Joe Betz).

Same can be said of Lavoy Allen’s resurgence lately. Since the All-Star break, he’s averaged 18.2 minutes a game when he plays with 7.4 rebounds per contest. By comparison, that would be the best per game average on the season for the Pacers (Turner, 7.1 & George, 6.2).

Without the consistent personnel to win on the glass, the Pacers have to come with a sense of urgency and hustle to win the rebounding battles, end possessions, and start their offense on the break. Which a team run by Jeff Teague should love to execute (think end of the Atlanta game). The Pacers have shown improvement in this area since the All-Star break, and we’ll see if this trend continues or if it’s just a good couple of weeks that disappear into more inconsistency.

Let’s hope the Pacers can continue to play like they have since coming back from the All-Star break and attack each game with an attitude like one of the greatest hustle players in history:

“I’m hungrier than those other guys out there. Every rebound is a personal challenge,” Dennis Rodman famously said.

 

 

Fort Wayne Mad Ants add Tyler Hansbrough and Marquis Teague

The Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Pacers affiliate in the DLeague) acquired two new players with Indiana connections this week in Tyler Hansbrough and Marquis Teague.  Both are trying to restart their careers by going through the Development League. 

First on March 1st: Tyler.

Pacer fans remember Psycho-T well when he was selected 13th overall in the 2009 draft and played four seasons in Indianapolis. After Indiana he made stops in Toronto 2013-2015 and Charlotte 2015-2016. In his first game with the Mad Ants, Tyler played 17 mins, going 1-6 from the field with 7 rebs and 8 pts. We’ll see if his crazy hustle can earn him a call back up to the big league at some point.

Then on March 2nd: Marquis.

Marquis is the younger brother of Pacers point guard Jeff Teague. He was drafted in 2012 with the 29th pick by the Chicago Bulls. He’s bounced around a lot with stops in the DLeague with the Iowa Energy, NBA with the Brooklyn Nets, back to the DLeague with the Oklahoma City Blue, then onto Europe. Most recently playing for the Israeli team Ironi Nahariya and the Russian team BC Avtodor Saratov. Like Tyler, we’ll see if his time back stateside will turn any NBA heads looking to shore up their backup PG spot.

Regardless, fans in the Fort Wayne area (or on an off Pacers night) should make the trek up I-69 and catch a Mad Ants game before the season wraps up. 

The Mad Ants are currently 2nd in the Central Division at 22-15 and on a 3-game winning streak. There are only five Mad Ants home games left this season and a lot of talent to see. Jarrod Uthoff has been turning some heads with his play lately and may earn a 10-day deal from someone before the end of the season.

 

 

The Paul George Situation: Should the Pacers be worried?

As the trade deadline was approaching, most Pacers fans expected some smaller moves to be made by the team. Some bench help to keep Paul George happy perhaps.

The Pacers were shopping around their 1st-round pick since it will be in the late teens, early twenties range, and the expectation was that maybe they’d do a similar deal like last year’s draft day acquisition of Thad Young from the Brooklyn Nets.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, the quiet rumblings of Paul George being traded started to become loud shouts. Pacer and NBA fans were glued to Twitter to see what would happen at the Deadline.

This was shocking to the Pacers fan base that has consistently been told that Paul George was not on the market and essentially untouchable. But now the Pacers may trade him? Why would they even consider this? And are some Pacers fans actually on board with getting rid of the superstar?

Let’s break it down the situation and bear with me, this is a bit long.

The Contract:

Paul George’s current contract runs through the 2018-2019 season, but that last season is a player option for George. PG is making $18.1 million this season, and $19.3 million for next year.  Because of the huge increase in the salary cap in the past few seasons (from $70 million in 2015-2016 season to $94 million currently), Paul George will definitely opt out of his current deal after next season and become a free agent as the cap continues to rise.

If for some reason he did keep his player option for that last year, it’d be $20.7 million. Luol Deng and Evan Turner are making more than $18 million per season in this cap climate. It would be a complete shocker if he opted in.

For his new contract (wherever it will be) Paul will fall under the 7-9 year player max bracket or 30% of the cap. So for instance in 2018 he could make $30.6 million for that season. (Up from the 20.7 million he’d make if he doesn’t opt out) Also there is the Designated Player Exception in the new CBA for star players drafted by their teams trying to re-sign them and prevent them leaving like a few stars have in recent years (Durant). Players can sign a 5-year extension on their current deal with their original team, while all other teams have only a max of four years to offer a player in free agency. So the Pacers would get to offer another year of security and $30+ million more than any other team.

(Here comes the math) Per Nat Newell of the IndyStar on Dec 15 2016 in his article entitled What does the new CBA mean to the Pacers and Paul George? The league calculates max salaries from a slightly lower figure, roughly $96 million off the cap of $102 million (2018-2019). Another team would be able to start an offer to George at 30 percent of that figure – $28.8 million. The other team can offer a 4.5 percent raise each season: $30.1 million, $31.4 million, $32.7 million for a total of $123 million over four seasons.

The Pacers can offer an extension on George’s $19.3 million contract for 2017-18. If George qualifies for the DPE: The 35 percent offer would be $33.6 million in year one of the new deal (3.5 million more than another team). They can offer 7.5 percent raises over five years: $36.1 million, $38.6 million, $41.1 million and $43.6 million for a total contract of six years, $212.3 million.

In other words, the Pacers can pay George more in year one than another team can pay him in year four. The Pacers would be able to offer $26.4 million more over four years and $70 million more total over 4.5 seasons. More in raises and more each year if he stays. But, PG needs to qualify for the DPE first.

For Paul to qualify for the new DPE he has to have on his resume either a MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, or one of three All-NBA teams the previous season he signs. OR been on All NBA/DPOY in two of the previous three seasons, or MVP once. We all know he has never been MVP or DPOY but he has made All-NBA teams. All-NBA 3rd team in 2013, 2o14, and 2016. 2015 being the season lost due to the broken leg injury.

That leg injury could end up costing PG a lot of money since he needs two All-NBA teams in three seasons. So two of three in these years: 2015, 2016, or 2017. Paul has to make an All-NBA team this year to qualify and chances right now are slim. Go through the Forwards in the NBA right now LeBron/Kawhi, Durant/Green, Butler/Hayward, along with guys like Millsap, Anthony Davis now at the four spot because of the Boogie trade, Melo? The top six spots will be tough to crack for George this season. Even with an injury to a top player like Durant, it’s going to be a challenge.

This should make the Pacers worried. They will no longer have that trump card to offer an extension to George this off-season and would have to hope that he qualified next season before he becomes a free agent.

If he doesn’t, then the field is more level between what Indiana can offer and what all the other teams can offer. I asked Steve Kyler from Basketball Insiders on Twitter what the Pacers can do if PG doesn’t land on an All-NBA team.

Basically the Pacers have some room to play. They can offer slightly larger annual raises and an extra contract year but that normally is minimal when we’re talking this kind of money with the cap on the rise each season. The same advantages home teams have wasn’t enough to get Durant to stay in OKC either.

The biggest card the Pacers have is to convince Paul to pick up his player option in 18-19 then they’ll increase his salary next year (renegotiate the team cap) in 17-18 by $11 million or the amount he would get if he signed a new contract under the new CBA cap.

Re-negotiation on this front by adding more years (up to the 2018-19 season) would also put Paul into the 10+ years veteran bracket when this new contact is done, which makes him entitled to 35% of the cap then and even more money. Paul was drafted in 2010 so his 2019-20 contract would fall under the 10+ year vet.

Kyler feels if the Pacers keep PG and are not able to re-sign due to the DPE requirements, it’s a Kevin Durant situation all over again. Not enough money in the end to matter when the situation for a finals run isn’t there.

The Pacers then have two options with George without the DPE:

  1. Trade him.
  2. Try and re-sign him, but risk him leaving for nothing.

Option 1: Trade Paul George. Many different times that this could potentially happen before he hits free agency. You could do it during off-season, closer to the draft once you know everyone’s draft order, or wait until next year’s trade deadline. There is the threat too however of teams knowing he won’t resign with the Pacers so they won’t offer very much to trade for him when they know they can just wait till he’s a free agent.

If Paul doesn’t want to stay, then the Pacers have to get something for him without seeing him walk for nothing. The argument though has been brought out that wouldn’t your star employee be more involved in how the business is run if he truly is your future? It didn’t seem to be the case during the deadline.

The Pacers would only trade Paul George if they KNEW he wouldn’t re-sign with them AND the deal for him was massive. Think more on the level of Carmelo Anthony trade than DeMarcus Cousins (thank goodness the Pacers are not the Kings). So maybe all these rumblings this deadline was to get a feel for PG’s market value?

Rumor is Pacers ownership wanted to test the waters to see PG’s value and Larry Bird swatted away any true offers. It was going to take a massive offer to make him pull the trigger this year.

The deadline revealed that the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Boston Celtics were all interested in Paul George. So many options out there but so long to go before any of them could happen that we’ll save the analyzation of potential deals for another time. But I’ll just leave this little tweet here that does not help the Pacers leverage situation if they do end up trading him down the line.

There are limited teams out there with the assets to trade for Paul let alone be in the mix for a championship as was discussed earlier. Paul is 26 and his prime is right now. He doesn’t have the time to sit through a 5-year rebuild (which makes the Lakers a curious choice for him). If the Pacers trade him, it needs to be a team he’ll want to re-sign with who he views as being in an immediate contending situation for the Pacers to get the best possible deal.

Option 2 – Re-sign PG. The Pacers preferred option, but one that also includes the risk of him leaving for nothing. Remember this is if Paul George doesn’t end up qualifying for the DPE and the money difference is minimal. The Pacers want to keep him obviously. It all comes down to the Pacers individual cap space and how much Paul does love the situation in Indiana. He could end up going to another team and leaving the Pacers with nothing in return, and after watching Kevin Durant do that to the Thunder last summer, the Pacers will do everything they can to prevent that from happening to this franchise.

The Pacers do have some things going in their favor: PG does want to bring a championship to Indiana and has said in the past that he wants to be bigger than Reggie Miller here. But George added the caveat that he wants to contend for a title like when they were in the Eastern Conference Finals two straight seasons. That’s the biggest key to this puzzle if the Pacers want to re-sign him without the DPE: building this team into a contender quickly. Bird will his work cut out for him this off-season as he tries to get this team out of mediocrity and back into the business of challenging LeBron in the East.

You don’t need to be in a major market to have a ‘brand’ and George has proven that already. Paul has his PG1 shoe coming out from Nike. He’s one of only four players to have a signature shoe deal with Nike (Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving). His other partners include Gatorade, Papa John’s, Fanatics, FanDuel, NewEra, Bass Pro Shops, and 2K Sports. All from little ole Indiana.

Salary cap space won’t be an issue that they have to worry about. Right now, the Pacers team payroll is around $87 million (cap at $94 million and rising for next year). With Free Agents Aaron Brooks and Jeff Teague (re-sign please). A few players have team options: Lavoy Allen, Joe Young and Glenn Robinson III. Some have player options: Stuckey and CJ Miles. You will have to watch a few of those guys walk but you’ll still have the space left to sign both Teague this off-season and PG next season if need be.

It should be a very interesting next year in Naptown as Bird tries to build a roster to that can convince George to stay or trades away his superstar as a new era begins for the Pacers.

Christmas in February: Pacers beat the Grizzlies, end losing streak

After an eventful (on Twitter anyway) trade deadline, the Pacers returned home after the All Star break with an un-changed team to play the Memphis Grizzlies and won by a final score of 102-92 as they ended their six-game losing streak.

Pacers fans showered superstar Paul George with cheers during his introduction, showing how glad they to see him still in a Pacers uniform.

George heard the extra cheers during introductions and appreciated hearing it from the fans.

George still was in a bit of a shooting slump as he made only 3 of 12 shots for nine points and added nine rebounds, but tonight it didn’t matter.

Thaddeus Young made his return to the lineup as well after missing eight games with a wrist injury, and man were the Pacers glad to see him back. His energy and hustle were a big difference maker that the team had missed during the losing streak. He finished the game with 10 points on 5-7 shooting with five rebounds, a block and a steal.

The game was close early but the Pacers took control in the second quarter and snapped their 6-game losing streak against the #6 seed in the West. 

After the game was tied at 29 – 29, the Pacers pulled ahead and led by 27 points at one point and never trailed again. They won the second and third quarters by a combined score of 64-42.

The biggest surprise/revelation of the game: the bench and defense. The Pacers bench scored 44 points tonight, led by Monta Ellis with 16 points and Lavoy Allen with a double double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Pacers defense held the Grizzlies to 41.7% from the floor while shooting 51.3% themselves.

The stellar bench play started with Rakeem Christmas, who had only played 23 minutes his entire season. Christmas came off the bench due to Al Jefferson being a late scratch due to ‘dental pain.’ Christmas played well in his 13 minutes, rolling to the basket (something the Pacers bigs are lacking) and attacking for rebounds.

Even though Rakeem only had four points and five rebounds, he was very active with his time of the floor. He’s still got to control his fouling issues, but he was a big boost to the second unit.

On a night when the top scorer was CJ Miles with 17 points, the bench play was a great boost. Maybe the Pacers didn’t need to trade anyone and just needed a kick in the pants (aka trade rumors) to get things rolling.

On the other side of the ball, the Grizzlies never established a game plan. Their leading scorer was Troy Daniels with 13 points. Outside of the occasional flash of Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, or Vince Carter, they didn’t seem to have the firepower tonight to overcome the Pacers.

Jeff Teague added a double double of 10 points and 10 assists. Myles Turner added 12 points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

The Pacers play again tomorrow night against the Miami Heat who are sitting in 10th in the East right now. This will be game one of a 5-game road trip for the Pacers. Miami is 8-2 in their last 10 and one of the hottest teams in the league. Hopefully the Pacers came come out and play a similar game plan Saturday night in Miami.

The Pacers win tonight clinches a Pacers winning home-record for the 28th straight season, which is the longest streak in the NBA.

This was the fourth Hickory Night of the season. A Hickory Night that had lots of Indiana High School history on the floor. For Memphis – Mike Conley (Lawrence North HS) & Zach Randolph (Marion HS) for the Pacers – Jeff Teague (Pike HS) & Glenn Robinson III (Lake Central HS).

George also introduced these shoes. (Count me as 1st in line once these come out):

Top 10 Indiana Pacers Dunks in a Slam Dunk Contest

You may be curious after watching Glenn Robinson III’s amazing Saturday night in the Dunk Contest how many Pacers have ever competed, let alone won, a dunk contest in the past besides Trey Dog (who I incorrectly gave only a 20% chance to win). Over the 31 years of the contest including one ABA, seven different Pacers in addition to King Glenn III have competed in the NBA Contest. Zero in the one year the ABA had their contest in 1976 before the merger. Pacers ABA legend Darnell ‘Dr Dunk’ Hillman won the first NBA dunk contest in 1977 but it was a very different season-long contest back then. All 30 teams had a representative and competed one-on-one in a bracket like challenge. Until last night, Dr. Dunk had never received a trophy for the contest, but did get a check for around $15,000.

Here’s my ranking of the top-10 dunks by a Pacers player in the dunk contest:

Let the countdown commence. And feel free to let me know where I’m wrong on Twitter @TheCorner3Ross.

#10 2013 Gerald Green: The Double Dunk

He didn’t complete it till after his buzzer so it didn’t count but the idea was impressive: cut off the net, dunk, catch the ball with the other hand, and dunk it again, all in the air during one jump.

#9 2012 Paul George: Larry Bird Sticker Dunk

Slap a sticker on on end of the backboard and dunk on the opposite end. Points for the prop. Nothing fancy on the dunk. PG took more attempts than he had stickers unfortunately.

#8 2001 Jonathan Bender Left-Hand from the Foul Line

For how long he is, it should’ve been from further away. Sadly like much of Bender’s career, his performance was a disappointment. At least he didn’t get hurt!

#7 2012 Paul George Glow-in-the-Dark Dunk

He should’ve just done it with the lights on in my opinion. This is one of the dunks that Vince Carter did in his iconic 2000 Slam Dunk performance. And as @its_whitney brought out on Twitter, he should’ve had a glow-in-the-dark ball to wrap it all together.  #MissedOpportunity

#6 2012 Paul George dunk over Roy Hibbert. 

Hibbert is 7’2″. Yes, Roy ducked a bit and PG used his hand but still impressive nonetheless. Originally Dahntay Jones was throwing a pass to George, but he couldn’t get it completed.

#5 2013 Gerald Green Off the Side of the Backboard

Lance Stephenson’s always looking for an easy assist, and no one dunks with ease and force like Gerald Green.

#4 2017 Glenn Robinson III Over PG, Boomer & a Pacemate

Over one All-Star, one mascot, and a cheerleader backwards slam. It clinched him the contest.

#3 2014 Paul George 360 Through the Legs

In my opinion, this should have won him the best dunker crown in this strange conference battle dunk contest.

#2 2004 Fred Jones bounce alley-oop reach back

The Dunk that won him the contest and made him the first Pacers player to do so. Thank goodness he threw himself a terrible pass that made this dunk awesome.

#1 Glenn Robinson III’s 2017 Opening Dunk

Left hand over two people while his head almost hits the rim. Just nuts. I hope there is a shirt with this on it soon. He earned every bit of this championship. Way to go, King Glenn III.

Just missed the cut: All of Terence Stansbury’s dunks (there are some really good ones), GR3’s 360 Dab Dunk, Kenny Williams, and Antonio Davis. (Videos below of some of their dunks)

A brief history of Pacers past performances in the dunk contest:

The very first Pacer in the Dunk contest came early in 1985 & 1986 Terence Stansbury. He competed two years for the Pacers and one for Seattle. He made the Semi-Finals both times with the Pacers but lost out to Dominique Wilkins at home in Indianapolis in 1985 and Spud Webb the following year in 86.

1991 saw Kenny Williams compete for the Pacers in Charlotte for the Dunk Contest. Kenny would not make it out of the first round finishing 5th overall. The overall champ that year was Dee Brown of the Celtics.

Now we get into some names most fans remember. The next Pacer to compete was a Davis brother. Antonio Davis in 1994. AD didn’t make it out of the first round either, finishing 5th. Maybe being ‘penalized’ for being the big in the group. The champ that year was Isaiah Rider.

Oh what could have been for the next Pacer contestant: the Pre-Durant, Durant style player. In 2001, Jonathan Bender competed for the Pacers. His length and versatility should’ve equated to amazing things on the court, but Bender’s knees never cooperated for very long. Bender didn’t make it out of the first round either, finishing 5th (I’m seeing a pattern here). The champion that year was Desmond Mason.

All these 5th place finishes. Would a Pacer ever do well in this contest? In 2004, with a field of four players, the Pacers Fred Jones showed that he could. In maybe one of the weaker dunk contests to date, Indiana Jones bested the two-time defending champ Jason Richardson for the title spot with two 50-point dunks on his way to victory.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very proud of Fred Jones but maybe the voters were tired of J-Rich.  But a W is a W. There has only been one 3-time champ at the Dunk Contest and that was Nate Richardson. So J-Rich had an uphill battle.

The next time we saw a Pacer in the Dunk Contest was Paul George in 2012 under a new format. Paul George competed twice (again in 2014). The champ would be decided entirely by fan voting this year. PG came out strong with dunks over Roy Hibbert (7’2″). Followed by his glow-in-the dark jersey dunk (would’ve been cooler in the light) and ended with the sticker on the backboard other side of the rim dunk.

Sadly the fans voted incorrectly. As they normally do when given the power for the All Star Game (I’m looking at you Zaza Pachulia). PG unbelievably finished only 3rd with 24% of the vote. Brief former Pacers bested George in the fan vote: Jeremy Evans got 29% and Chase Budinger got 28%.

In 2013 Gerald Green competed in his third contest with his third team. An impressive alley-oop off the side of the backboard from Lance Stephenson followed by an ambitious dunk he wasn’t able to put down. He cut off the net so that he could dunk the ball, catch it with his off hand and dunk the ball again. He wasn’t able to complete it and scored low, unable to advance. The winner that year was Terrance Ross.

Paul George would come back two years later in 2014. Again though, the NBA tweaked its format. A team format was adopted. 1st round was freestyle followed by one-on-one battles. PG was teamed up with the East consisting of Terrence Ross and John Wall. The East won the night but John Wall was voted as the Dunker of the Night (by the fans).

Finally this year, I hope most of you were able to watch. 2017 Glenn Robinson III wanted to #Shocktheworld and man did he do so. While the competition wasn’t the same level as years past, Glenn capitalized. With Aaron Gordon fizzling out in the first round and Glenn scoring a 50 with his first dunk. He was easily into the final round and sealed the deal jumping over three people in an impressive fashion, bringing home the Pacers second-dunk title and a nice $100,000 for his victory.

Pacers dunkers are a combined 2-9 all time in the contest. We’ll see if GR3 comes back next year to defend and become the first Pacers Dunking Dynasty.

Dunk Contest Preview: Glenn Robinson III wants to shock the world

The NBA All-Star weekend’s premiere event is rapidly approaching on Saturday night: The Verizon Slam Dunk contest. The Pacers will be represented by Glenn Robinson III as he goes up against Derrick Jones Jr., DeAndre Jordan, and last year’s runner-up Aaron Gordon. Here’s a look at what each contestant brings to the table and their odds of winning:

https://twitter.com/TheCorner3Show/status/832237818705539073

DeAndre Jordan: The 6’11” first-time All-Star Center for the Los Angeles Clippers. Jordan continues the recent trend of having at least one big man in the field. (2016 Andre Drummond; 2015 Mason Plumlee).  Continue reading Dunk Contest Preview: Glenn Robinson III wants to shock the world