What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 7. Indiana Pacers

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st): 18-13 ,  first place Central Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of December 31st):
  • Points Scored: 91.8 (28th)
  • Points Allowed: 90.3 (2nd)
  • Team FG%: .427 (27th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .413 (1st)
  • Rebounds per game: 45.5(5th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.9 (14th)
  • Turnovers per game: 15.3(22nd)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 12.9 (27th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st):
  • Scoring (ppg): David West (17.5)
  • Rebounds per game:  Roy Hibbert (8.1)
  • Minutes per game: Paul George (36.3)
  • Assists per game: George Hill (5.1)
  • Field Goal Percentage:  David West (.496)
  • Steals per game: Paul George (1.5)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Roy Hibbert (2.8)

Worst Player of the Month: Frank Vogel

It has become striking obvious that Frank Vogel has no idea to utilize the talent and depth in his team; otherwise the Pacers would be one of the best performing offensive team in the league instead of the worst.  He continues to send out the same flawed starting unit on the floor placing George Hill, primarily a shooting guard who looks for his own shot instead of facilitating his teammates as the team's starting point man. One can certainly see how such a strategy has kept Indiana at the bottom in the league in scoring and among the league's worst in commuting turnovers.  If it were not for the Pacers bouncing back from a rather lackluster start in November, Frank Vogel would have, could have should have been fired a long time ago.  There is simply no excuse for the Pacers to perform so poorly on the offensive end despite a roster that was supposed to be much longer, deeper and talented than last's season's group.  
First Player of the Month:  Paul George

Although he has improved leaps and bounds as he has exploded offensively and thus far is having a break out season, it is difficult to really to Paul George seriously as an NBA star.  Most of his break out season has more to do with the absence of last season's leading scorer, Danny Granger, than any actual improvement in his play.  Granger's absense not withstanding, Paul George has certainly filled in the vacuum left by Granger leading the team in scoring (18.8), second on the team in assists (4.1) and third leading rebounder with 7.6 per game.  One still has to openly question, however, whether George would have been able to blossom the way he has if Danny Granger was still in the picture.  One also has to also wonder if George would continue his production if Granger were to return as well casting a dark shadow on an otherwise impressive season.  

From a basic glance, it looks as if the Indiana Pacers have improved leaps and bounds jumping from number 20 to number 7; however, it has not been the case. Despite finishing December 10-5 and retaking the top spot in the Central Division, the Pacers continued to execute poorly on the offensive end making many speculate that Indiana is in no way, shape or form championship material.  They certainly do not look as if they would be a match for the Miami Heat if they ever manage to meet them in the playoffs.  Although the Pacers pride themselves as a defensive stopping team, they simply do not have the personnel to match or contain the offensive fire of Miami's three headed monster of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.    Most importantly, they certainly do not resemble the team that was advertised in the off season as their overall play has been lackluster and mediocre at best.

The Pacers certainly have not played like an elite team of late as they are barely able to outscore their opponents and although they are one of the best in field goals allowed, it really does not matter since they cannot shoot any better themselves.   Indy is also one of the worst teams when it comes to turning over the ball and despite boasting that the Pacers are one of the top defensive and rebounding teams, they simple are unable to force turnovers as they rank near the bottom of the league in that regard.  All of these factors make it very hard for anyone to believe that this was the same team that shocked Miami taking last season's Eastern Conference Semi-Final series two games to one before subsequently falling to the Heat.  In fact, many would have thought that this current Pacer team would have been a marked improvement from the previous season considering the great lengths the front office took to upgrade the roster making it deeper, longer and more athletic than the last one.  Unfortunately, the whole team looks completely out of sync as the players have struggled to execute on the offensive end negating any effort put forth on the defensive end of the floor.

It can certainly make one cringe witnessing such a long and athletic team that should be pushing the tempo and scoring in bunches plod on the court as if they are wearing cement sneakers.  It must be even more disheartening for Pacers fans to see their team come up with a excellent defensive stop only to follow it up with a poorly executed play which leads to either a poor shot or a turnover.  There is simply no excuse for such a mediocre performance on the offensive as the team boasts not just one, but two NBA All Stars in David West and Roy Hibbert and an up and comer in Paul George who has shown potential worthy of earning an All Star nod himself.  What is even more disheartening is the Pacers are playing in a Central Division that is the weakest that it has ever been and have only been able to simply hold first place barely by a thread.  With their only competition being a hobbled and hollowed out version of the Chicago Bulls, the Pacers should have owned the division from day one as they had little or no competition in that regard.

Unfortunately, despite their advantages in terms of their roster and the current status of their division, the Pacers have not played well enough to even be considered a good team, let alone a contender for an NBA title.  What is even worse is this team has thus far played with little or no sense of urgency as would be expected from one that has championship aspirations.  With teams such as the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks emerging as powerhouses of the Eastern Conference, Indiana looks even less worthy of a potential suitor capable of slowing down the Miami Heat in its quest to grab their second straight NBA title.  Even the Atlanta Hawks, a team that has not had nearly the amount of exposure nor measure equally in terms of their roster depth, have outperformed the Pacers despite not even being considered as much of an elite team that Indiana was projected before the season began.  After showing so much promise and potential last season, Indiana's performance has thus far been a rather deflating disappointment that has led to many of fans who anticipated so much more to write in anger and disgust.

Fortunately for the Pacers, there is still time to iron out all the wrinkles and finish the season on a strong and positive note.  They will certainly never have a chance to take on the Miami Heat come playoff time unless they can match their stifling defensive performance with an equally devastating offensive attack.  As of know, their defense has been more than a crutch than a catalyst as they limited offensive production often negates any advancing momentum that their defense could and should bring.  The Pacers almost resemble a company that has all the right tools and equipment along with the resources to outshine any competitor, yet have no idea on what to do or how to use them.  Until they figure that out, the Pacers will still remain as flat and listless as they have been thus far and  thus have to watch their window of opportunity for a championship close shut.