Tag Archives: aaron holiday

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

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

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

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

Alize Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

Aaron Holiday

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

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

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

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

Brian Bowen II

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

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

DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell

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

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

Goga Bitadze

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

Edmond Sumner

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

Advertisements

Pacers Summer League struggles continue

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

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

Aaron Holiday

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

Takeaways from Pacers Summer League in an ugly opener

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

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

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

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

Aaron Holiday:

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

What to watch for during Pacers Summer League

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

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

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

Schedule:

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

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

Goga Bitadze

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

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

Aaron Holiday in line for increased role

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

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

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

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

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

Where do the Pacers go from here?

The Indiana Pacers lost Victor Oladipo to a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter of Wednesday’s game. He suffered a ruptured quad tendon that could put him out anywhere from six to twelve months.

There are no adequate words to describe the numbness that comes in the moments and hours directly after witnessing an injury that devastating. Shock, disbelief, clinging to some tiny hope that it isn’t as bad as it seems.

There was no joy in watching the Pacers continue to play after Oladipo was taken out on a stretcher. No anxiety as the game was close in the final minute. None of that mattered much. The Pacers had already lost more than this one game could possibly make up for. Continue reading Where do the Pacers go from here?

Aaron Holiday back to waiting for his turn as Oladipo returns

Aaron Holiday performed admirably for a rookie getting his first real minutes for the Indiana Pacers, but now that Victor Oladipo has returned to the starting lineup Holiday goes back to waiting for his turn.

Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said he spoke with Holiday about the trickle down effect that Oladipo’s return to the starting lineup will have on his minutes.

“He did his job, now he goes back to his role,” McMillan said. “Victor’s back and we go back to our rotation.”

Even with Oladipo on a minutes restriction, Holiday played zero minutes in the win against the Milwaukee Bucks last night. Continue reading Aaron Holiday back to waiting for his turn as Oladipo returns

Finding positives from Victor Oladipo’s continued absence

Obviously, Victor Oladipo being injured is not a good thing for the Indiana Pacers. The team has announced he will be out “indefinitely” with the knee soreness that has plagued him for much of the season and kept him out of the team’s last six games.

That being said, with injury comes opportunity. It’s a situation that the Pacers would rather not be in, but there are positives that can come from it.

Fortunately, it doesn’t seem as bad as the initial announcement made it seem as indefinitely can mean just about anything from a few games to months but is a clear downgrade from “day-to-day.” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski offered more information than the Pacers official press release initially did and offered a more encouraging outlook.

And with Scott Agness’s report, it seems like the Pacers are just tired of answering questions about Oladipo’s injury every day and want him to take his time to return.

Hopefully, this ends up being similar to last season where once he came back, he was good to go for the remainder of the year.

Here are some possible positives that could come from the extended absence of the Pacers best player: Continue reading Finding positives from Victor Oladipo’s continued absence

Is Darren Collison doomed to repeat his own Pacers history?

Last season was the best of Darren Collison’s career. This year, however, has started off as the worst for the Indiana Pacers starting point guard.

“I want to be there for my teammates,” said Collison, who is averaging career lows in points (8.9), 3-point percentage (32%) and free-throw percentage (69%), after Thursday’s loss to the Spurs, “and right now I haven’t been there for them. Just a tough stretch. I just don’t feel a rhythm at all. Last year, I had more of a feel for the game.”

Collison, who led the entire league in 3-point percentage in 2017-18, has scored five or fewer points in six of the team’s first 19 games including two scoreless outings in the team’s first 12 games. He’s only scored in double figures eight times thus far.

“Nate spoke to me about being more aggressive and getting back to myself. I’ve just been overthinking the first 10, 11 games or so,” Collison said after bouncing back from his second scoreless outing according to the Indy Star. “Sometimes you try to do the right thing and you get away from your game.”

Meanwhile, the other two point guards on the roster have played well to start the season. Cory Joseph has quietly been one of the team’s most important players, and first-round pick Aaron Holiday is making the most of his first opportunity for real playing time with Victor Oladipo out with knee soreness.

It’s not hard to make a case that Joseph should be the starter over Collison right now. Continue reading Is Darren Collison doomed to repeat his own Pacers history?

Pacers rookie Aaron Holiday makes his first opportunity count

INDIANAPOLIS–Aaron Holiday hadn’t played meaningful minutes all season. The Indiana Pacers first-round draft pick hadn’t played at all in the team’s last nine consecutive games.

Tonight, Holiday came in with 3:14 left in the third quarter and never came back out, electrifying the crowd with pull-up 3-pointers, chasedown block attempts in transition, and a nifty behind-the-back assist.

“We don’t win this game if he doesn’t come in and play the way he did on both ends of the floor,” Nate McMillan said of the rookie point guard.

Holiday, who finished with 12 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in his 15 minutes, pulled up for a 3-pointer in transition upon almost immediately after entering the game. The shot gave the Pacers the lead at 68-67 and they never gave it back. The Pacers went on to win 97-89 over the Atlanta Hawks.

With Victor Oladipo exiting the game with knee soreness early in the first quarter, the Pacers were in need of a next man up as the game swayed with large runs from both teams as the Pacers went from down 10 to up 3 to down 12 before Holiday’s shot gave them the lead for good in the third quarter.

“Anytime we lose a guy like Victor, we have to figure out a way to supplement his scoring and his defensive ability,” said Thad Young, who added 11 points and 7 rebounds, “and we figured it out. We got a lot of guys that can step up on any given night and tonight … Aaron was the true player of the game.”

Young is impressed with the team’s rookie and he earned the praise of many of the veterans in the locker room after the game.

“I’ve always said that he’s better than his draft number,” Young said of Holiday. “Definitely could have been one of the guys in the top 10 especially when you put him one-on-one against anybody in his draft class. He’s done a good job waiting for his turn, staying poised and the sky’s the limit for him.”

Darren Collison, who went 4 for 5 in the second half with 12 points after missing all five of his first-half attempts, was glad to see Holiday be rewarded after seeing him working hard throughout training camp and during the season.

“He’s stayed working, the first one in the gym,” Collison said of his fellow UCLA point guard. “It just makes you happy for somebody that has that success like he did tonight. He’s a real good player. He’s going to be a good player in this league … It’s only going to be sky’s the limit because that kid can play. Once he gets his opportunity on a consistent basis, it’s going to be good things to come.”

Both Collison and Young noted his sky-high potential. Cory Joseph said he thinks Holiday will have a long career, but Holiday knows he still has a lot to prove and isn’t getting too high off of just a single game.

“I don’t think I earned anything yet,” Holiday said when asked if he thought this game would lead to more playing time. “It’s just one game. I’ll just keeping working, see what happens.”

While Holiday would clearly like to be playing more often, he understands it’s a waiting game for him at the start of his career.

“It’s very tough,” Holiday said. “Being a competitor like I am, I wanted to get out there, but obviously, in the league you have to wait for your time and I’m just happy it came today.”

The team took a final turning point after the Hawks had scored 17 straight points from the end of the second quarter through the beginning of the third. After a quick timeout, Thad Young took it upon himself to call out the team for the lack of effort.

“The players gathered, and they knew that we needed this game,” said McMillan. “… Sometimes those guys have to police themselves, and that was a moment when they knew that. There’s only so much that I can say … I can call a timeout, but you know you need to get it together and that was a moment where they got together and talked about playing better basketball and we ended up winning that game.”

Bojan Bogdanovic led the team in scoring with 22 points. Myles Turner had his first double double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Domas Sabonis had a nice all-around game with 9 points, 16 rebounds and 6 assists.

The Pacers were 0-5 last season without Oladipo in the lineup and while technically he played tonight this was a good sign for the team’s depth and ability to find ways to win without their All Star player at all or without him at his best for the second straight night.

The Pacers won last night’s game against the Miami Heat with Oladipo having one of his worst nights as a Pacer with just 8 points as Tyreke Evans took over with his best game in Indiana with 23 points. Another game, another player steps up.

Oladipo is day-to-day with the knee soreness and while the team certainly hopes he doesn’t have to miss any games, they look more equipped to deal with his absence now than last season.

Preseason Takeaways: Lessons from Pacers overtime loss to Grizzlies

The Indiana Pacers lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in their second preseason game last night, but the result of the exhibition match doesn’t matter. With the Pacers resting all five starters, it was a chance for the young guys to get lots of minutes and show whether or not they belonged, and it was an opportunity for the bench unit to develop some chemistry with each other.

Here’s what we learned from Game 2:

Tyreke Evans and Domas Sabonis pick and rolls will be a delight:

These two have quickly developed a rapport on these type of plays in practice and it showed in their first game action together. Domas Sabonis repeatedly got great looks at the basket thanks to Tyreke Evans’s patience on the play, waiting until the right moment to make a quick pass to the Lithuanian big man.

Sabonis struggled to finish many of these looks but finished with an impressive 17 points (7 of 18) and 14 rebounds in only 21 minutes. Evans struggled to make shots as well but still finished with 12 points (3 for 11), 6 rebounds and 3 assists. It should be a blast watching these two run the pick and roll all season.

Evans had some chemistry miscues early with expecting players to go one way and going another or not being ready for a pass from Sabonis but it was good to get those kind of mistakes out of the way in preseason.

Continue reading Preseason Takeaways: Lessons from Pacers overtime loss to Grizzlies

Summer League Grades: Pacers have a few solid performances despite losing big lead

The Indiana Pacers fell in the first-round of the Las Vegas Summer League to the Atlanta Hawks. After building up a 27-point lead early in the third quarter, the Hawks slowly chipped away at the Pacers lead until suddenly it was gone. Trae Young finished them off with some ridiculous passes to keep holding the Atlanta lead down the stretch.

The Pacers will have a single remaining consolation game on Friday against the Brooklyn Nets at 4 p.m.

This was easily the most entertaining game for the Summer Pacers, even with the disappointing ending, with many players having their best games in Las Vegas.

Continue reading Summer League Grades: Pacers have a few solid performances despite losing big lead

Pacers Summer League Grades: Holiday battles Sexton

The Indiana Pacers were defeated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in their third game in Las Vegas and fell to 1-2 in group play in the Summer League.

Today’s matchup was all about a pair of first-round draft picks with Collin Sexton, the 8th overall pick, and Aaron Holiday, the 23rd pick, going after each other on numerous occasions.

The statistics mostly favor Sexton but Holiday had his moments as well. We’ll go into further detail below:

Aaron Holiday: C+

For the second consecutive game, Holiday really struggled from the field. He hit only 4 of his 14 attempts and is now shooting only 36% over the three games.

He looked motivated to perform well against a player drafted higher than him in the first round in Sexton and held his own, going back and forth with him on occasion.

Sexton blew by Holiday multiple times after the first quarter but Holiday did offer some resistance to him early on, blocking a shot, deflecting a pass and forcing a couple missed attempts. He seemed to be more attentive off the ball compared to the previous game.

Holiday had 8 assists but he also tallied 8 turnovers. Multiple times he fell to the ground and lost control of the ball and a few more were poor passes that were overthrown.

He still showed some tantalizing flashes of real NBA potential but he’s got plenty to work on. During this rookie year, he’ll need to pay real close attention to Darren Collison and how he takes care of the ball.

Alize Johnson: B+

Johnson continues to impress with his high motor and looks like a player deserving of a roster spot. He ended the game with 16 points (6 of 11 from the field) and 7 rebounds. He hit his first 3-pointer of Summer League play from the corner, a shot that could be crucial to his long-term development.

Johnson made some impressive plays once again on both ends of the court. He continues to show the ability to switch onto guards and stay in front of them on defense. Today, he forced a turnover from Sexton and then finished the ensuing fastbreak with an and-1 bucket.

On one offensive possession, he showed off a well-polished move that led to an easy basket inside.

He also showed that he still has a long ways to go. A defender stopped him in the backcourt on one of his grab-and-go rebounds and forced a turnover by sitting on his right hand. Johnson will have to develop his left-hand to have success at the next level as NBA scouting reports will make it well known quickly about his inability to use the off hand.

“He’s not there yet,” said Kevin Pritchard who praised his ability to always be in on the rebound during the broadcast, “but I really like his determination to get the ball.”

He also took a few ill-advised shots in the halfcourt offense including a fadeaway and floater that both badly missed. Overall though, it was another positive performance for the second-round pick.

T.J. Leaf: B

Leaf scored 20 points but needed 21 shots to get to that mark against the Cavaliers. He continues to struggle from the 3-point line, coming up short on numerous attempts and only making one attempt in garbage time.

He made a few of his usual nice drives and hit a few shots in the post, showing more patience than in the first game.

Leaf also added 2 blocks and 9 rebounds. This was probably his best defensive game though his pick-and-roll coverage is still a work in progress.

Edmond Sumner: B+

Sumner had his best game in Las Vegas and had a few really nice offensive moments. He scored 14 points and made 6 of his 11 shot attempts. He added a pair of assists and steals.

He hit multiple jump shots and looked confident pulling up from 3 at the end of a quarter. He went 2 for 3 from behind the arc overall.

After struggling to finish at the rim in the first game, he made a nice move and finish here:

Other notes:

  • Alex Poythress has a nice quiet game with some solid energy moments and defensive plays. He finished with 7 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal.
  • Ben Moore hit all three of his shots from the floor as he made timely cuts and showed some aggression in his limited chances with drives to the basket. He finished with 9 points and 4 rebounds. He could easily end up with another 2-way contract this season.
  • Henry Sims murdered a man.

And destroyed a man’s soul.

Indiana Pacers Summer League Grades: Who stood out in Game 2?

The Indiana Pacers bounced back from a loss in their first game against the Houston Rockets in the Las Vegas Summer League and defeated the San Antonio Spurs today.

But once again, the results of the game don’t matter in the end. This is all about development and getting introduced to some young Pacers and some NBA hopefuls.

If you missed the grades from Game 1, you can find them here. Quality in some of the clips may be lacking in this one as there’s no great place to get individual plays from Summer League.

Aaron Holiday: C+

Holiday struggled from the field in this one, making only 3 of his 15 shot attempts and is now shooting 40% over the two games (12 of 30). He still showed off his nice shooting form on occassion this afternoon.

Part of his struggles came at the rim trying to finish against some of the Spurs larger guards. This is something that he’ll have to continue to work on though it’s helpful that he’s able to finish with both hands, as he showed in the first game.

Some of his best plays on the day, however, were passing the ball. He finished with 7 assists and was very adept at finding the right guy in transition and making the right pass in the half court.

He still occasionally made poor decisions on passes but lowered his turnovers from 6 in the first game down to 4 in the second. Some of the turnovers are bound to happen as a product of unfamiliarity with teammates in Vegas.

While Holiday is small, he also seems to be around for rebounds often, adding 7 more to his total today.

Defensively, it was a mixed bag. He was inconsistent with his ability to fight over screens and at times relaxed when he thought his work was done only for his man to be immediately involved in the play again.

He also continued to show off his quick hands on that end and added a couple of steals.

Alize Johnson: B+

Alize Johnson was probably the Pacers MVP of the second game. Yes, he only scored 10 points and grabbed 9 rebounds and made only 3 of his 11 shots, but he was a huge difference maker with his high motor and effort in the second half especially.

He was relentless on nearly every rebound. He had four offensive boards but added numerous extra possessions for the Pacers on plays he wasn’t credited with a rebound by just never giving up on the play.

His field goal percentage isn’t as bad as it seems as a few of those attempts he ended up rebounding himself and another was a full-court heave that he nearly made at the end of the first quarter. He did force a couple of bad shots when he tried to do a little too much.

Full write-up on Johnson coming soon but he continued to show great passing ability in transition after grabbing a defensive rebound to start the break, his offense looks farther along than expected, his high motor is as advertised and he can defend multiple positions well with his quick feet.

It’s early, but he looks more and more like a player that deserves to be on the Pacers roster this season.

T.J. Leaf: B

This was the T.J. Leaf that we expected to see at Summer League. He led the team with 17 points and made 7 of his 13 shots. He showed a lot more patience from the beginning of the game compared to the first contest when he seemed to be forcing the action and rushing everything.

He made some really nice drives to the rim by attacking closeouts as seen below though he struggled to recognize when the defender would come up short and hesitated on taking a few open 3-pointers.

He didn’t score after around the 7-minute mark in the third quarter.

On the defensive end, there wasn’t much to like about his performance. It’s unclear what Summer League coach Steve Gansey wants Leaf to do when defending a pick and roll but him playing back has been highly ineffective.

There were multiple plays where Johnson appears to call for a switch or expects one with Leaf but he’s playing so far back and is too slow to react to do anything about it. His foot speed and reaction time on that end still need a lot of work.

There were many occasions of Leaf giving up too much room as Spurs players pulled up and hit jumpers as he offered only a late contest.

After grabbing 10 rebounds in the first game, Leaf hauled in only 2 today.

In game one, we saw the Leaf to be concerned about; in game two, we saw the Leaf we expected. Maybe in game three, we can see some signs of the Leaf that we hope for.

Ben Moore: B+

Moore really showed his skill set against the Spurs. The Pacers started the game off with him guarding Derrick White, who averaged 23/7/7 in the Utah Summer League and looks like a nice player, and Moore held his own pretty well.

White finished with 19 points but made only 6 of his 18 shot attempts and many of his makes came against Holiday and/or Leaf. He seemed much less aggressive when Moore was guarding him.

And after being almost invisible in the first game, Moore was able to contribute offensively as well. He scored 10 points on five shots, hit a corner 3-pointer and added 3 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals.

After missing his second 3-point attempt, Moore decided to cut inside on the next one and finished the lob play from Holiday.

Moore never tries to do too much on offense and always plays within himself. He has a high basketball IQ and makes the right pass quickly. Here he takes two dribbles, realizes he isn’t going anywhere and finds an open Holiday for 3.

He’s still got a ways to go on offense (he got blocked at the rim on one attempt that he could have made an easy layup by using the basket as a shield) but this was encouraging for Moore.

This play where Moore jumps into the stands and over the Gatorade shows off his incredible effort. This led to a bucket inside from Alex Poythress and helped seal the game for Indiana late in the fourth quarter.

Other Notes:

  • Edmond Sumner was out with knee soreness today. Scott Agness reported it was not the knee that had the ACL injury so that’s positive. No word on if he’ll be back on Monday.
  • Alex Poythress’s minutes were more limited today, probably losing out some to Johnson, but he was effective while out there, adding 6 points and 3 rebounds with a team-leading +14.
  • C.J. Wilcox was perfect from the field and from the line, scoring 13 points on four shot attempts. He added no other statistics except for a single rebound.

  • Travis Leslie started in place of Sumner and finished with 8 points and 9 rebounds. He also had this impressive dunk.

The Pacers next game in Las Vegas is on Monday at 5 p.m.

Indiana Pacers Summer League Grades: Rookies shine in their debuts

The Indiana Pacers lost their opening game in the Las Vegas Summer League the Houston Rockets by a final of 92-89, but the results of the game are meaningless.

Update: Game 2 Grades here

How did the players perform? Here’s some quick grades and recap for how they did in their first game.

Aaron Holiday: B+

Holiday did just about everything you could possibly hope for him to do in his debut. He hit tough shots both inside and out. He moved the ball well, made some nice defensive plays. Most importantly, he looked like an NBA player.

He finished with 23 points, 3 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals with 9-of-15 shooting from the field. His first three possessions of his career set the tone for his debut: 3-pointer coming off of a screen, deep 3-pointer after crossing up a big on a switch and taking it to the rack and finishing with a difficult left-hand move.

Continue reading Indiana Pacers Summer League Grades: Rookies shine in their debuts

What do Aaron Holiday & Alize Johnson need to show during Summer League?

This season the Indiana Pacers will be playing in the Las Vegas Summer League for the first time, joining all the other 29 NBA teams as well.

These exhibition games are meaningless but not without purpose, especially for the players with varying motivations: proving their worth as a recent draft pick, looking to show how much they’ve improved from their previous season, or just hoping to show they belong in the NBA whether with a roster spot, a 2-way contract or a training camp invite.

In this series of articles coming before Summer League begins for Indiana on Friday, we’ll take a look at many of the players on the roster and what they will be looking to prove in Sin City.

For the Pacers 2018 draft picks, Aaron Holiday and Alize Johnson, this will be the first impresssion that many fans have of each player. Rookies are always the main attraction during Summer League so let’s start with them.

Continue reading What do Aaron Holiday & Alize Johnson need to show during Summer League?

Breaking down the Indiana Pacers first-round pick Aaron Holiday

The Indiana Pacers were surprised that Aaron Holiday fell to them at the 23rd pick in the first round of the NBA Draft on Thursday night.

“We were shocked that he was there,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard.

Pritchard, General Manager Chad Buchanan and Head Coach Nate McMillan all had praise for his basketball IQ, his toughness and his fit with the Pacers budding culture.

“There are certain things that we look for and value in a player and he checked all those boxes,” said Buchanan who praised his toughness, maturity, composure and work ethic,

They praised the intangible aspects of his game repeatedly, but what does Holiday bring to the table as a point guard that intrigued the Pacers into taking him in the first round?

“He’s got a lot of things that will transfer from day one,” said Buchanan on draft night. “… Everything we’ve heard about him as a worker is phenomenal. I think he’s just going to turn into a great Pacer.”

Continue reading Breaking down the Indiana Pacers first-round pick Aaron Holiday