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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

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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