'30 Teams in 30 Days' 2015-2016 NBA Season Preview: #20 Indiana Pacers

'30 Teams in 30 Days' 2015-2016 NBA Season Preview: #20 Indiana Pacers

NBA

'30 Teams in 30 Days' 2015-2016 NBA Season Preview: #20 Indiana Pacers

By

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  • Odds to win the 2015-2016 NBA Championship: 60:1
  • 2014-2015 Record: 38-44 (Missed Playoffs).
    • 2015 Draft Results:
      • Myles Turner, University of Texas (11th Overall)
      • Joseph Young, University of Oregon (43rd Overall)
    • Key Offseason Additions: Monta Ellis, Jordan Hill
    • Key Offseason Losses: Roy Hibbert, David West, CJ Watson
  • Projected Starting Lineup:

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  • Player Salaries

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  • Season in Review:

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The Good: George Hill. He’ll always live in the shadow of being “the guy that the Pacers traded Kawhi Leonard for”, but, don’t let that deter you from his irreplaceable impact for the Pacers.

In 30 minutes per game, Hill averaged:

  • 16.1 Points Per Game
  • 5.1 Rebounds Per Game
  • 4.2 Assists Per Game
  • 47.7% FG
  • 35.8% 3PT FG
  • Team-high 5.4 Win Shares

Most importantly: GH posted a ridiculous 21.5 P(layer) E(fficiency) R(ating), which several all-stars from last season didn’t even record … (league average = 15)

Also, we can’t forget about the job Frank Vogel did as Head Coach. Coming off two straight conference finals appearances, many saw 2014-2015 as a setback year for the Pacers because of their sub-.500 record … however, as many of you know: this team was infected with an injury bug that can be best compared to the ‘Walking Dead’ zombie apocalypse strain. There were multiple games during 2014-2015 when the Pacers only dressed eight active players, and their most impactful ones: Paul George, Roy Hibbert, David West, and George Hill all missed heavy chunks of the season with various lower body injuries. Despite all of this adversity, Vogel was almost able to get this makeshift roster … which saw Solomon Hillthe fourth worst shooter in the entire league and leader of the team in games/minutes played … to the playoffs.

Now that I think about it, this may be Frank Vogel’s best achievement to date — you don’t almost make the playoffs with a team of Donald Sloan/CJ Miles/Solomon Hill/Luis Scola/Ian Mahinmi, regardless of how bad the East was, unless your coach knows what they’re doing.

The Bad & The Ugly: Speaking of horrific PER and usage statistics, say hello to CJ Miles and Solomon Hill. I get that these guys were thrown into the fire/forced to play excessive minutes because of injuries to the team’s starters, but, good LORD these two are the definition of inconsistency.

To elaborate: CJ averaged…

  • 13.5 PPG
  • 3.1 RPG
  • 1.1 APG
  • 39.8% FG
  • 34.5% 3PT
  • 14.1 PER
  • 2.8 WS

Solomon:

  • 8.9 PPG
  • 3.9 RPG
  • 2.2 APG
  • 39.6% FG
  • 32.7% 3PT
  • 10.2 PER
  • 3.55 WS

Those are pretty mediocre/boring statistics, right? Well, they don’t even begin to tell the tale that was their seasons. At one point during the 2014-2015 season, CJ MILES’ PER WAS NEGATIVE. LIKE, LITERALLY BELOW ZERO. Then: just when you thought he couldn’t be any dumber, he goes and does something like this…

AND TOTALLY REDEEMS HIMSELF.

At a team-high 23.9% usage rate (% of possessions that a player is involved with the result), there is absolutely no reason why CJ should be averaging numbers this low. Yet, it’s difficult to hate on him because the numbers he ended the season with are pretty impressive after the record-setting atrocity he recorded to start the year … AND … his Mid Level Exception contract is a minuscule drop in the salary cap bucket.

As for Solomon Hill: you cannot lead your team in minutes played, post a PER of 10.2, and expect to get a pass. This was a bad year, plain-and-simple … I don’t care how young or inexperienced he is, you gotta be able to perform if you’re going to get as much play time as he did. Now, that doesn’t mean that the potential isn’t there … it is… example A:

…but if this Pacers team is going anywhere this season: he’s gonna have to learn how to make shots he creates for himself, as 97% of the threes he made last year were assisted by another player.

  • Baseless God Wob

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This has to be the first time ever in basketball history where three players with the same last name started a game together, right? Your 2015 Indiana Pacers featuring Hill, Hill, and Hill. Did Darius Morris ever join the Morris twins in Phoenix? This is kinda hilarious.

Ok, seriously… I don’t expect a whole lot from this Pacers team in 2015-16 – as anyone whose best big man is Jordan Hill cannot be taken seriously. All that matters this year is getting Paul George back to “superstar” status. I know he came back EARLY last year … WAY too early … so, I’m not going to judge his statistics from the short time he played – rather: I am going to judge what I saw with my eyes, that he appears to be a shell of his old self … not only physically, but, mentally.

His leg will heal. Maybe not to what it was before his absolutely horrifying injury last summer, but, enough for him to perform at a sufficient physical NBA level. I’m not a doctor so this is a completely baseless, unsupported hypothesis: what I think is broken forever is his psyche. There’s a couple plays that concern me…

  1. His first dunk after coming back from the injury

It’s not so much that it was of the “weak” variety and he hardly got off the ground, more so the way he comes down: clearly shifting the weight to his non-injured leg, and almost stopping for a split-second after the score to gather himself.

2. His first points after being subbed into his first game back…

Zero elevation on the jumper, and seems more concerned with getting hit than anything. I mean who can blame him.

Feel free to yell at me for making something out of nothing, I deserve it. But these are just two of many examples where George over-cautiously protects his newly-healed leg – and from what I saw in the month+ of PG back on the floor, I really think the fear of re-injuring said leg is going to hold him back from being the MVP candidate that he once was. His athleticism and versatility were (and still are) his most important assets, they simply weren’t there when he returned.

Maybe he’ll look good as new. I hope I’m wrong, I really do, the NBA is better when Paul George is a superstar. However: I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get the same heebie jeebes from his body language, every time he touches the rock, that I get when Boobie Miles goes back onto the field for Permian High School in Friday Night Lights — after suffering his gruesome knee injury.

There … I said it. Someone had to. I feel better now. Other than that, Pacers fans, have fun with Monta Ellis.

  • 2015-2016 Season Projection:
    • 37-45 Record
    • 10th Place in East
    • Playoff Prediction: No Playoffs
  • Fan Mindset, as told by Hollywood:
    • Forrest Gump Breaks Free, Forrest Gump
  • Baseless God Wob’s 3 Divine Questions:

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  • What exactly was the purpose of signing Monta Ellis with Rodney Stuckey already on the roster, and not giving that $ to a big man?
  • Who is the Power Forward on this roster? Are the Pacers pretty much signing up for a season’s worth of ‘small ball’?
  • And obviously … will Paul George return to form?

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