There are reports that former Lakers assistant coach, 45 year old Brian Shaw, will interview for the assistant coach job in Indiana. Shaw had tried to get a head coaching job in LA, Houston and Golden State and failed for all of them, so he has now set his eyes on assistant role again.
Interestingly, Shaw will reportedly meet with Frank Vogel, which strongly suggests to me that Vogel will get the head coaching job next season. If Vogel can get Shaw, widely known as a 'players coach', I think that will be a boost for this young Pacers team.
On the other hand, it also concerns me a little. If Shaw is such a great coach, why hasn't he gotten a head coaching job by now? And why has he been turned down by all the teams that he has applied for thus far?
As a regular on weekly highlight reels, I guess this could be regarded as a 'break out' season for power forward Josh McRoberts, who was almost traded for OJ Mayo before the trade deadline (as a part of a deal that involved other pieces that weren't exactly divulged) and may not even be a Pacer next season as he is likely to test the market as a free agent.
The athletic 6'10" McRoberts provided more than the Pacers could have hoped for on the offensive end this season. He finished at the rim with some highlight dunks, threw in a few three pointers and even led the occasional fast break with his unusually decent ball-handling skills. For the year he averaged a career high 7.4 points in 22.2 minutes per game, playing in 72 games and starting in 51 of them. When Frank Vogel took over as coach Hansbrough began to start ahead of McRoberts but he still played significant minutes. His season high was a 20 point game in a blowout loss against Chicago in late January.
McRoberts wasn't too shabby in other departments either. He averaged 5.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists, had 0.8 blocks and 0.7 steals per game, all career highs. He also shot 0.547 from the field, a surprising 0.383 from 3-point range (23-60 for the season) and a respectable 0.739 from the line.
Offensively, McRoberts is who he is -- a utility forward who can use his athleticism, ball-handling and passing skills to provide a spark off the bench. Every now and then he will have a good shooting night and put up points in the mid-teens, but it's a stretch to imagine him starting on any playoff teams this year apart from the Pacers. If he continues to work on his game and get more minutes, he could average around 10 points a game, but he will never come close to being an All-Star in the NBA.
Defensively, however, was another story. Even though he is a solid 6'10" and 240 pounds, McRoberts lacked the size and defensive experience to take on the bigger and craftier post players and the quickness of smaller, more athletic forwards. He can grab boards with his leaping ability but isn't a particularly skillful rebounder in the mould of a Jeff Foster. And although he has now played 3 years in the NBA, McRoberts is still just 24 and prone to mental lapses.
Nontheless, McRoberts overachieved in the eyes of many this season. If anything, he was at least entertaining to watch on the break. Will he be a Pacer next season? Judging from the fact that the Pacers used him as trade bait and the fact that he is a useful player to have for many teams, it seems unlikely that he will be back. Will the Pacers really miss his presence? A little bit, I think, but if the Pacers don't acquire a genuine starting calibre power forward during the offseason, it will at least give Tyler Hansbrough more minutes to develop.
Finally, I am starting this series of posts on each Indiana Pacers player and how they performed in the 2010-2011 NBA season. I thought I'd start off with one of the brightest spots: rookie Paul George.
Selected with the 10th overall pick of the 2010 draft, Paul George was considered a bizarre choice at the time because he was projected as a small forward, the same position occupied by the Pacers' best player, Danny Granger. It was the highest pick the Pacers have had since they chose Erick Dampier in 1996 (also the 10th pick) and many fans thought the Pacers had blown it.
Well, they were wrong. In a draft where the only 'sure things' were John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and possibly Evan Turner, Paul George may eventually be regarded as the steal of the draft.
PG didn't have eye popping numbers in his rookie season: 61 games, 19 starts, 20.7 minutes per game, 7.8 ppg, 3.7rpg, 1.1apg, 1.0spg, 0.4bpg, shooting 0.453 from the field, 0.297 from 3-point range and 0.762 from the free throw line. His career high was a 23-point performance against Washington on April 6th.
However, PG certainly made a name for himself in the playoffs against the top seeded Chicago Bulls when he did an outstanding job of 'shutting down' Derrick Rose. In that 5-game series, PG averaged just 6 points in just under 27 minutes per game but also averaged 5 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 2.0 blocks per game, including a few monster rejections that have been immortalized on YouTube.
So how does PG's numbers stack up against the rest of this year's rookies? Pretty well. He was 9th amongst rookies in scoring but all players ahead of him played more minutes per game. That said, per 48 minutes, PG was 18th amongst all rookies in points per game (18.1). In terms of steals, PG was 6th amongst rookies, and out of those ahead of him, only Golden State's Jeremy Lin averaged less minutes.
While it was by no means a great year, PG showed in his first year flashes of brilliance and a tremendous amount of potential. It's too early to proclaim him the next Pacers star, but if PG continues to work on his game, he could very well be that guy. At a long 6'9" with excellent athleticism, orangutan-like arms (6'11" reach) and fairly good mobility, PG has the potential to be the lockdown defender that the Pacers hoped Danny Granger would be (but looks like never will). Further, PG was erratic from the outside this season but has shown a streaky ability to knock down the long-ball, and with practice, he will become a legitimate threat from the outside. But his most impressive attribute has been an ability to drive and complete plays with silky finishes at the rim -- something the Pacers desperately lacked. Going forward, George could continue to play shooting guard with Granger on the floor, though it is obvious that his optimal position will be small forward.
ESPN's stat guru John Hollinger had this to say about PG:
If there is one reason to watch the Pacers this year, it’s this guy. While the Griffin-Wall-Cousins rookie trio still hogs all the attention, it’s become increasingly clear that George was flat-out stolen at No. 10 by Indiana. A long, silky finisher who looks as if he could easily ramp up to the go-to scorer role, George is shooting 56.7 percent on 2-pointers.
His main shortcoming has been that he has taken a ton of 3-pointers and struggles to make them. That talent should develop in time, as his shooting stroke looks solid, and if it does the 20-year-old will be nigh unguardable.
To get better, George must get stronger, fitter and improve his shooting while gathering more experience on defense. With the work ethic he has demonstrated thus far, it seems likely that he will improve and improve significantly. PG was a 90% free throw shooter in college and should get back to something resembling that level in the next few seasons.
To finish off, let's compare PG's rookie season to that of Danny Granger, the NBA's 17th top scorer this past season with 20.5 points per game. As you will see, the numbers are eerily similar.
Admittedly, Granger was a slightly better shooter during his rookie year and would go on to become one of the best volume shooters in the league, but PG clearly has more potential at both ends of the floor. A key point to remember is that PG has only just turned 21, whereas Granger was already 23 at the end of his first year.
Overall, this was a solid rookie year for PG, one that he must build on to help the Pacers advance deeper in the playoffs next season.
Congratulations to former Pacers coach Rick Carlisle!
This is what Indiana Pacers fans have to celebrate these days: Lebron not winning and former Pacers coach Rick Carlisle and former Pacers player (one season) Peja Stojakovic winning the NBA Championship with the Dallas Mavericks!!
Rick Carlisle has always been one of my favorite coaches in the NBA. He was Larry Bird's assistant when they led the Pacers to their only finals appearance in 2000. They should have given him the head job when Larry Legend departed but instead they handed it over to Isiah Thomas, and of course, we all know what happened to the franchise after that. Rick was re-hired as head coach in 2003-2004 after Isiah was fired, but the damage to the culture had already been done. After the brawl and a horrible resulting record, Rich was unfairly shown the door (though it was never clear whether he quit or was fired).
Now with the Mavericks, Carlisle has finally proved that he is a top notch coach, outperforming Heat coach Spolestra with his defensive schemes and rotations. The Heat could never figure it out and that's a big reason why they lost despite being heavy favorites.
Peja, on the other hand, never wanted to be a Pacer, but ended up being traded from Sacramento for Ron Artest after all those debacles Pacers fans would prefer to not remember. He filled in admirably for 40 games in the 2005-2006 season, averaging 19.5 points per game while shooting over 46% from the field, over 40% from three-point range and over 90% from the free throw line.
The Peja of now is obviously a different player, but he still had a few big games for the Mavs in the playoffs to get them through to the finals, where he did nothing except look sad on the bench. Nonetheless, a ring is a ring.
The huge positive that comes out of the Mavs winning the title instead of the Heat is that Lebron's head won't explode from getting too big and it will delay this supposed Heat dynasty (not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4....etc) for at least another year. Seriously though, what it does show is that a TEAM can still win if they play the right way with the right personnel. Okay, the Mavs have one of the highest payrolls in the league, but they only one have true star. It is at least something the Pacers, who will never attract the big stars like Miami, can aspire to.