Tag Archives: Pacers Analysis

Notes & Numbers: Pacers have been up and down in first four games

The Indiana Pacers have been on a roller coaster start alternating between blowing opponents out and getting blown out in their first four games, winning twice easily at home and losing while not playing well twice on the road.

The most important thing to remember about these games: it’s early. It’s a long season. The Pacers will have good nights and bad ones. It’s important to not overreact to any single one of them in a negative or positive way.

Here are some interesting statistics and notes from the first four games in no particular order:

Myles Turner leads the league in screen assists per game:

In only 25 minutes per game (due to foul trouble and blowouts), Myles Turner leads the league in screen assists at 6.8 per game. The next four players coming right after him (Rudy Gobert, Steven Adams, Tristan Thompson, Enes Kanter) are all playing over 30 minutes per game. The next closest Pacer to Turner’s 6.8 is Domas Sabonis at 3 per game.  Continue reading Notes & Numbers: Pacers have been up and down in first four games

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How Alize Johnson could help the Indiana Pacers this season

As the 50th overall draft pick, the Indiana Pacers rookie Alize Johnson has an uphill climb to make an impact on an NBA roster.

That’s nothing new for him. He’s been the overlooked underdog throughout his high school and college career. His story of small high-school guard as a freshman to junior college to Missouri State is well known by Pacers fans by now.

“I have to do things different,” Johnson said before Summer League play. “Being the underdog I have to show some things that I can do consistently. Rebounding is effort. I’m all about hard work and getting into the gyms. Not really being the most athletic person, but just having the grit to go up there every time and get it is something that’s still in my blood. I have siblings back home and a family rooting for me, so when I’m up there grabbing rebounds, that’s what I’m doing it for.”

If you watched him play in Summer League, you were likely to get at least a little caught up in the Alize hype as his high-motor rebounding was on full display and his ability to start the fastbreak was a highlight of the Pacers play in Las Vegas.

“When you’re picking that deep in the draft, the likelihood of that player succeeding, the percentages are certainly working against him,” Pacers GM Chad Buchanan said after the draft, “so you look for like one trait or one skill that a guy possesses that would give him a chance. And Alize has two things for me; he has tremendous motor, and he just has an innate ability to track down rebounds.”

Pacers coach Nate McMillan caught Alize fever during the exhibition games in Vegas.

Continue reading How Alize Johnson could help the Indiana Pacers this season

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 new Indiana Pacers forward Doug McDermott

The Indiana Pacers agreed to a 3-year deal Doug McDermott so quickly that free agency hadn’t even officially begun yet as Adrian Wojnarowski reported the news at 11:55 p.m.

McDermott, who will be on his fifth team in five seasons, will be reunited with a pair of former teammates: Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, who thrived with the Pacers after struggling in their lone season with the Thunder as their roles didn’t fit their skill sets. Dougie McBuckets will look to do the same with the Pacers after having a very successful stint with the Mavericks to end last season, shooting nearly 50% from 3-point territory in 26 games.

So how will McDermott contribute to the Pacers? How will the Pacers utilize his shooting ability? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Let’s take a look. Continue reading Breaking down new Indiana Pacers forward Doug McDermott

Indiana Pacers Free Agency Options: Bargains (Part 3)

Free agency is almost upon us. A time of Woj bombs and Shams-wows. A time of the surprising and the predictable.

The Indiana Pacers will be one of few teams with a lot of cap space entering free agency this year and will have plenty of options to pursue.

For perimeter players, we’ve already looked at some players in their prime (Will Barton, Tyreke Evans and Marcus Smart) and some wily old veterans that could serve as valuable role players.

Now, we look at cheaper options for younger players that are still somewhat unproven in their abilities. Some have served as role players in the past; some are still looking for that opportunity and may need more development time. These aren’t guys that are going to get anyone excited, but they might pay dividends.

We’ll start with two players that Indiana is reportedly interested in: Doug McDermott and Joe Harris.

Joe Harris

Harris had a great season with the Brooklyn Nets and made 41.9% of his 3-pointers on the season. He ranked in the 89th percentile in spot-up possessions, 75th percentile while coming off of screens and 84th percentile on hand offs. He’s an efficient shooting machine.

Continue reading Indiana Pacers Free Agency Options: Bargains (Part 3)

Indiana Pacers Free Agency Options: The Veterans (Part 2)

Free agency is nearly here and the Indiana Pacers are looking to add some players to their surprising roster of last season.

Most of the rotation will appear to be the same, but options will be available for the team to upgrade at some spots.

In Part One, we analyzed in detail rumored targets of Tyreke Evans, Will Barton and Marcus Smart.

In Part Two, we’ll look at the veteran wings that are on the market this offseason that could add some immediate help in the short term while giving the Pacers flexibility to keep cap space in the next couple of years in some cases. Many of these players could probably be signed to deals similar to those of Bojan Bogdanovic and Darren Collison where the second season has a small partial guarantee.

Trevor Ariza

Trevor Ariza is the prototypical 3-and-D wing. He’ll be in his 15th season next year at age 33 with a ton of playoff experience including winning a title with the Los Angeles Lakers nearly a decade ago.

Continue reading Indiana Pacers Free Agency Options: The Veterans (Part 2)

Analyzing the Indiana Pacers Free Agency Options: Wings (Part One)

As free agency draws near, the Indiana Pacers know that a lot of their players will be back next season. Kevin Pritchard said after the draft that he hoped to bring back the team’s top six or seven players and with Thad Young exercising his player option yesterday, all seven will return: Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, Darren Collison, Bojan Bogdanovic and Young.

“They wildly overachieved and they deserve to see if they can build on that,” said Pritchard. “It’s my job to add a few more players, a few more pieces that could help them get past the first round or make the playoffs.”

Even with all those players returning, the Pacers can still create nearly $20 million in space by waiving Al Jefferson and declining Joe Young’s team option after already declining Lance Stephenson’s team option.

With so few teams having available cap space, if the player the Pacers want is out there in free agency, they won’t have a ton of competition for many of the players. For now, let’s look at a few wings that are in the midst of their prime and among the second-tier of free agents (after the superstar level) that have already been connected to Indiana via rumors and see how they could possibly fit on the team.

Continue reading Analyzing the Indiana Pacers Free Agency Options: Wings (Part One)

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

NBA Draft 2018: Trades for the Indiana Pacers to consider on draft night

The NBA Draft is upon us. Tonight is the day where 60 young men have their dreams come true as they are drafted by an NBA franchise. The Pacers have a lot of options in this draft. Yesterday, we looked at a few prospects that could be available at 23 that might be able to contribute right away for the Indiana Pacers in their rookie season.

Today, we look at a few possible, at least semi-plausible, trades that Kevin Pritchard and the Indiana Pacers front office could look to make on draft night. Pritchard used to have so much success via trade when he was with the Portland Trailblazers that “The Pritch Slap” was born. We’ll see if Pritchard can pull something off like that tonight.

Trade One: Moving on up!

  • Indiana Pacers receive: Kenneth Faried and the 14th overall pick
  • Denver Nuggets receive: Al Jefferson and the 23rd pick

This trade has been thrown out there by many people including most recently Bobby Marks and ESPN. This was also close to what a possible deal at the deadline looked like according to some Pacers rumors at the time, but Al Jefferson and other Pacers asked Pritchard to let the team stick together for the rest of the season and no moves were made.

I think this trade and others in the list would be more likely to happen if Thaddeus Young had already decided that he was going to decline his option and look to test out the free agent market. With his decision still up in the air, the Pacers may be less likely to take Faried’s deal on. It doesn’t affect the Pacers cap space next year since Faried only has a single season left on the deal and that seems to be a possible sticking point for Pritchard on why a long-term agreement hasn’t been reached with Young.

Continue reading NBA Draft 2018: Trades for the Indiana Pacers to consider on draft night

Three possible first-rounders that could contribute immediately for the Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers have the 23rd pick in this year’s NBA Draft. A spot much later in the draft than almost everyone would have predicted they be in at this time last year when their former star player advised the franchise that he would not be re-signing with the Pacers.

Last year’s draft pick, TJ Leaf, struggled in his rookie season on the defensive end of the floor which caused him to see little playing time and eventually the Pacers added Trevor Booker and took away any chance of Leaf seeing more meaningful minutes. Leaf showed some promise on the offensive end with a large repertoire of moves but was unable to contribute much in his first season with the team.

Can the Pacers find someone to be an immediate contributor this season? It doesn’t happen all that often this late in the draft, but pick 23 has actually been a good spot historically for finding role players with more hits than misses in the last decade (23rd pick from 2017 back to 2007: OG Anunoby, Ante Zizic, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Rodney Hood, Solomon Hill, John Jenkins, Nikola Mirotic, Trevor Booker, Omri Casspi, Kosta Koufos, Wilson Chandler).

Here are a three prospects that are expected to go somewhere in range of the Pacers selection that may provide some hope of becoming a rotation player from day one. Based on Leaf’s rookie season, I’d put the emphasis on finding someone that can play defense right away. Defense seems to translate to minutes at the next level a little faster than offense. With Pacers coach Nate McMillan unlikely to give a rookie much to do on offense anyway, defense is the only way for a young player to really earn a spot in the rotation for a playoff team and stay there.

Continue reading Three possible first-rounders that could contribute immediately for the Indiana Pacers

Free Agent Watch: Jerami Grant

Free Agent Profile

Player: Jerami Grant

Current team: OKC Thunder

Current salary: $1,524,305

Free Agent Status: Unrestricted

Strengths

Grant entered the league as a high second round pick (39th overall) regarded as a hybrid forward who did not shoot well on the perimeter but did get to the line with ease due to his high motor. His athleticism and physical tools were seen as his key to minutes on the court early in his career, and he earned minutes during his time in Philadelphia, starting 52 games in his second season.

After playing with the Sixers, he landed with OKC. In the Thunder’s system, he has carved a niche as a spot starter and key role player, sometimes playing the 5 in the Thunder’s small lineups.

Continue reading Free Agent Watch: Jerami Grant

How will the Indiana Pacers respond to these possible adjustments by Cleveland?

The Indiana Pacers aren’t just happy to be in the playoffs. Victor Oladipo and company have been saying for awhile that they want to make a run in the postseason and shock the world.

The Pacers thoroughly destroyed the Cavaliers in Game 1 while introducing themselves to the national audience, but everyone knows a LeBron James-led team isn’t going down easy, especially in the first round.

Cavs coach Ty Lue will likely be ready with adjustments and how Pacers coach Nate McMillan and his staff are able to respond to those will determine how successful they can be through the rest of the series.

Here are a few likely adjustments from the Cavaliers and what the options are from there for the Pacers:

Continue reading How will the Indiana Pacers respond to these possible adjustments by Cleveland?

After some self-evaluation, Myles Turner is silencing his critics

The narrative surrounding Myles Turner’s third season has largely been one of disappointment: Turner’s offensive game hasn’t progressed since last season. He has no post moves. He settles for fadeaway jump shots too often. He can’t rebound. He’s not strong enough yet.

Since the All-Star break though, especially in the last four games for the Indiana Pacers, Turner’s making that dubious narrative disappear quickly. What changed? Some self-evaluation and a change in his mentality.

“I’ve had some self evaluation,” Myles Turner told Tyler Smith of Indy Sports Legends . “After the All-Star break I made it a goal to be more physical on the glass. I’ve got to make myself more versatile. I can’t just settle for jump shots. I’ve always had a post-game, but it’s the mental aspect of it.”

The results of this self-evaluation have been tremendous. Here’s a look at Turner’s statistics broken down before and after the All-Star break.

  • In 42 games prior to the break: 13.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, shooting splits of 48.8/35.6/76.4  
  • In 10 games after the break: 15.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, shooting splits of 57/48.3/76.7

“My team needs me,” Turner told the Indy Star. “That’s what it is. The All-Star break was good for me, to kind of take a look at myself, where we are in the standings. I know I need to step up my play.”

Those 10 games even include a few duds due to foul trouble or a lack of involvement in the offense shown by an actual drop in his usage rate since the All-Star break from over 21.2% before to just 19.2% after. After a pair of games in a 3-game stretch where he took three or fewer shot attempts, Turner made some adjustments.

“For us to be the team that we want to be,” Turner said after the Jazz game where he scored 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting. “I have to shoot more than five times in a game. I pick and chose my spots very well tonight.”

One of the frustrating things about his development to this point in his career is that he goes through maddening stretches without opportunities in the offense and never seems to get the ball enough when he’s hot, so it’s good to see Turner start to look at this proactively and make adjustments on his own.

He’s mentioned picking his spots correctly after a few of the last four games and with these numbers you can’t argue with that. He’s looked more and more like the player that many expected to see in his third season over the last four while averaging 21.3 points and 8 rebounds while shooting a sizzling 61.8% from the field and 52.9% from deep.

“I think so, man,” Turner told Jeremiah Johnson after the win against the Sixers when asked if this was the most confident he’s ever been. “I’m picking and choosing my spots very well. My teammates are doing a great job of creating open spaces for me and I’m taking full advantage of it.”

The biggest changes that we’ve seen since the break have been in the paint via consistent success in the post and more assertive rebounding on the offensive and defensive glass.

That improvement down low won’t get a better display than his game-winning post bucket against the Celtics with the game on the line.

Al Jefferson has talked this season how he wants Myles to take it as disrespect when a team switches on the pick and roll. Earlier in the season, it seemed like Turner just dreaded anytime that was the opponent strategy because it took away his bread and butter pick and pop shot.

“Last year, he wouldn’t have even thought about a post; he would have gone with a turnaround jumper or fadeaway,” Jefferson recently told Mark Montieth of Pacers.com. “You’ve got a 6-4, 6-5, 6-6 guard or wing on you and you’re taking those type of shots, that’s when it becomes a problem for me. He understands that. He’s getting his feet in the paint and getting good shots.”

When Oladipo came back in early January after a brief stretch where he missed four games, Turner’s first response to how he helps him succeed on offense was that teams are more reluctant to switch. He just wasn’t comfortable consistently going after those smaller players on the block. He showed flashes in the post, but too often he’d settle for the fading attempt away from contact.

“Just like on the playground when you were growing up, when you’ve got a small on you, your first thought is to go into the paint,” Jefferson told Montieth. “Myles wasn’t comfortable to do that. I think he got tired of that. I was in his ear telling him, ‘Man, you should be upset. You should be mad when teams feel they can switch and put guards on you and you’re taking fadeaways in the post. You’re making it harder than it really is. You’ve got to do something about it.'”

Now, it seems like he’s taking Jefferson’s teachings to heart and treating those switching defenders to some physical play and the biggest thing according to Jefferson is that he’s being more patient when he gets the ball down there.

“That’s something that wouldn’t have happened a year ago,” said Turner after his game-winning post shot against the Celtics. “I would have rushed right there. I took my time. I read the defense and made a strong move.”

His teammates know how important it is that he keeps developing that post game as well.

“When Myles can score down there and is effective down there, and then you have to guard him at the 3 too?” said Oladipo told Pat Boylan after the game against the Celtics. “He’s so young too, it’s crazy. I love playing with him.”

His tracking data on post-up plays has steadily improved to the point of him currently ranking in the 73rd percentile with 0.98 points per possession. His increased use of the pump fake, a sign that he’s being patient, has led to more drawn fouls, something he was already doing well in the post. He has a free-throw rate of 18.3% which is nearly twice as high as Domantas Sabonis and Jefferson’s foul rate when they’re in the post.

As he asserts himself in the paint, he’s seemed to gain even more confidence in his jump shot as he’s taken at least four 3-point attempts in each of the last four games while making over half of his attempts.

And the rebounding? Just watch this sequence and say he hasn’t improved in this area. He’s made putback dunks, grabbed key boards in traffic, and blocked out defenders with greater consistency.

The key for Turner will be doing this consistently. He’s had a few good games this season only to seem to take a step back after foul trouble. But the Pacers are winning games with Turner playing this well even while Oladipo has struggled in some of the same games. If the Pacers can get them both going at the same time in the playoffs, the Pacers might be able to make some noise.

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Glenn Robinson III showing flashes of improvement since his return

It was a long wait to get on the court this season for Glenn Robinson III. The Indiana Pacers were patient with him as he rehabbed from his ankle injury in training camp and he’s quickly become a key contributor off the bench.

While Head Coach Nate McMillan expected to only play him 5-10 minutes in his first game back, Robinson played 18 minutes in his debut, showing he was ready to make plays as the backup small forward.

Continue reading Glenn Robinson III showing flashes of improvement since his return

Don’t overlook the passing prowess of Sabonis and Turner

The Indiana Pacers have a pair of exciting young center prospects in Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. Both players are seen as core pieces of the team’s future and how well they can play together will become more and more important in the next few seasons.

Right now, they spend most of their time on the court with the other on the bench and play the center position and make positive impacts in different ways. Sabonis is the physical, rebounding, screen-setting sparkplug, while Turner is the sweet-shooting, shot-blocking specimen you’d design in a lab for the modern era.

One thing they both have in common is the ability to make plays via the pass, but even here you see them do things differently.

Sabonis is the more natural of the two big men when it comes to passing and is great at seeing where the open man is, while Turner, not often praised for his passing, grew leaps and bounds last season in knowing where the defense is likely to help and who that will leave open.

Their assist numbers won’t wow anyone as they aren’t racking up assists like the Denver’s Nikola Jokic or DeMarcus Cousins before his injury, but both players are a big part of the unselfish nature of this team.

Sabonis, who averages 3.1 assists per 36 minutes, makes one-handed bounce passes on the move to Victor Oladipo on a backdoor cut on the regular in this Pacers pet play (looked at in detail here).

The Pacers run this play with Turner, who averages 1.8 assists per 36 minutes, but not nearly as often. Here’s Turner executing the play to Oladipo.

Many of their assists come from hand-offs where instead of cutting backdoor Oladipo, Cory Joseph, Lance Stephenson and others go around the big man for the ball and take one or two dribbles before taking a jumper. Both players being able to make that backdoor pass allows this play to be more successful as teams are forced to respect the possibility of the cut.

Some of Turner’s best passing highlights come on plays where it doesn’t seem like he should know the guy is open before he makes the pass. Evidence of him simply knowing where the help is most likely to come from on this pick and roll and that the man in the corner behind him will be open. He immediately turns to make the pass on the catch, likely spotting the help defender as he initially turned toward the basket.

Sabonis, on the other hand, is more likely to catch and assess the defense, see where the help is coming from before making the right pass. Same play as the one above is run here but you can see him looking for the first option, seeing that it’s covered and then finding the open man on the opposite corner in Bojan Bogdanovic.

It makes sense why Thaddeus Young called him a quarterback for the offense early this season when he’s progressing through reads like this.

Both young players need work in their post-up games as they’ve had similar mediocre success up to this point in the year with Turner earning trips to the foul line at a tremendous rate but shying away from contact with a mismatch too often  and Sabonis hitting his field goal attempts at an above average clip but turning the ball over more than once every five post-ups.

While Sabonis does struggle with turning the ball over especially when he holds on to the ball too long and allows the double team to trap him, he’s able to make the quick pass when he sees the double coming.

Turner’s passing really shines in the post at times when opponents attempt to double him, which makes his development on that part of his game even more important. If he forces more teams to send an extra defender at him, he can pick apart defenses. He’s great at sending passes across court to the opposite corner to hit the open man.

In this next one, Turner spots both the double team coming from Young’s defender at the rim and Oladipo’s man coming down to cover Thad at the rim. He zips right pass both for an open 3-pointer for the Pacers All-Star.

You can see the natural instincts that Sabonis inherited from his father, one of the best passing bigs in history in Aryvdas Sabonis, come into play often on broken plays.

Any situation where the defense is scrambling like on an offensive rebound or an overly aggressive help defender, he’s able to find the open man at the right time.

He’s able to push the tempo off of rebounds and immediately start the fastbreak by taking a couple of dribbles before making an outlet pass, effectively creating situations where the defense is scrambling on his own.

Both players average about the same number of turnovers as assists, but most of their turnovers are offensive fouls, moving screens or lost balls. Only 23 of Sabonis’s 111 turnovers on the season have been from a bad pass and only 15 of Turner’s 64 turnovers on the season have been bad passes.

As mentioned previously, Sabonis sometimes allows the double team to get too close before attempting a pass and that has caused some of his turnovers. Part of this being his tendency to need to see the open man rather than anticipate it coming at times. He also seems to prefer making straight-line passes and is reluctant to put any touch on his passes in many situations.

Turner’s passing turnovers come from him thinking that a defender wouldn’t be in position but instead they’ve stayed at home or making a tough bounce pass too late to squeeze it into a tight window.

You’re still more likely to see the good than the bad from this still improving players. Here’s some terrific ball movement with Turner as the fulcrum of the offense in the paint.

And perhaps a sneak peak of the future for the Pacers here with Domas making some nice passes to Myles with the first pass showing some hesitation on making the touch pass for the easy layup and the second utilizing the spacing that Turner’s shooting creates.

The Pacers great chemistry is partly due to the unselfishness on the court of all their players, but it’s especially important for the team’s best players to be willing to make the extra pass. That’s almost always the case for the Pacers pair of young big men and they’re just getting started in their careers.

How Victor Oladipo sets the pace for the Pacers

Nothing speaks louder for Victor Oladipo’s impact on the Indiana Pacers than his team’s record with and without him.

With him, the Indiana Pacers are 33-19.

Without him, they are 0-6. Simply put: no Victor, no victories.

One of the biggest differences that he makes when he’s playing is how much faster Pacers play. While the impact is only little over a couple of possessions per game when he’s on the floor, that’s the difference between ranking 16th in pace overall when he’s on the court and 26th when he’s off the court.

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Myles Turner showing off all the goods since his return

Myles Turner has come back from his elbow injury looking determined to erase the first half of a season full of setbacks that hasn’t lived up to the high expectations many had for him during the summer.

The Indiana Pacers center is showing off all the goods that make him so intriguing over these past three games while also making strides in the areas that he’s still improving on.

After dealing with foul trouble throughout in his playing time off the bench against the Magic, Turner has averaged 17.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. His scoring even more impressive when he has only taken 31 shots total (10.3 shots per game) in the three contests and he’s doing his damage in a variety of ways.

Continue reading Myles Turner showing off all the goods since his return

With Kemba Walker available, should the Pacers make a deal?

Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker has been made available in trades according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Hornets would be looking to unload one of their bad contracts (they have a lot of them) in any potential deal that included Walker, who is averaging 21.7 points and 5.8 assists, according to Wojnarowski.

Any time an All-Star caliber player (Walker was selected as an All Star last season), every team, including the Indiana Pacers, has to consider whether or not they should pursue that player. Kevin Pritchard and company will have to do their due diligence and weigh the pros and the cons of any possible Walker deal.

Continue reading With Kemba Walker available, should the Pacers make a deal?