Posts Tagged ‘george’

pac

With the new trend of super teams making its way through the NBA, it is rare to see a team built from scratch. Despite the trend, Indiana Pacers President and Boston Celtics Legend Larry Bird decided to build his team the old fashion way. Now he is reaping the benefits of those rewards. Bird has built the best team in the league by creating a unit filled with balance, chemistry, and leadership

Lets start with balance.  This team has everything a team could dream of in their starting five; two bruisers, a facilitator, a playmaker, and an all around superstar. Roy Hibbert and David West make opposing players terrified to drive into the lane. George Hill has been great at the point, spreading the ball and averaging a healthy 13 points a game. Lance Stephenson has been a borderline All-Star this year. The 4th year player out of Cincinnati is averaging 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists a night. Night in and night out, Stephenson delivers consistent and strong play on both ends of the floor.

Then there’s Paul George. After last years coming out party in the playoffs, the 6’9 Small Forward hasn’t taken his foot off the pedal. So far this season, George is averaging 23 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, a game. He does all of this with a mere 2.5 turnovers a game. On the defensive end, the former Fresno State Bulldog has been unreal. On ball, George is averaging 2 steals a game. However, off the ball is where he really shines. George will allow shooters to have a little room, and then uses his wingspan to force the shooter into an uncomfortable shot. It is no wonder why shooters are only shooting 30% against him from the field.

As good as the starting five has been, the team wouldn’t be nearly as good without its bench. Luckily, Indiana has the deepest bench in the league. Danny Granger, Luis Scola, C.J. Watson, and Ian Mahimini all know their role and play them to perfection. Special credit is due to Granger. As the former face of the franchise, Granger has accepted his off the bench role as is making the most of it. Coming off knee surgery, Granger is averaging 10 points and 4 rebounds in 23 minutes a night.

All of these pieces accumulate into a comprehensive unit on the court and in the locker room. Notably, Indiana has been incredibly effective at moving the ball. All five position players seamlessly move the ball in an attempt to create the best shot opportunity. It is truly a joy to watch teams with such selflessness.

The final step in the Hall of Famers creation was bringing in a disciplinarian on the court. It is one thing to have a respectable coach (if that’s not the case you have bigger problems), but to have a respected player, who controls the locker room, is priceless.

This is where David West returns to the conversation. Bird wanted to bring in a player to control and mentor the young core that Indiana possessed. West signed a 2-year deal in 2011 and instantly the culture changed. Speaking on West, Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel said, “He does a lot of one-on-one mentoring, and does it every day. Just his presence – guys are going to think twice before they handle themselves the wrong way. Big brother is there. He’s a good observer; he knows what the right chemistry feels like. He knows when guys need hugs, when guys need a kick in the butt.”

Of all that mentoring, the biggest beneficiary of West’s help has been Center Roy Hibbert. Before West joined the team, the 7’2 Georgetown product was averaging a mere 10 points and 5 rebounds a game. He had been struggling on defense and had just been highly inconsistent overall. Since 2010, Hibbert has averaged 13 points, 9 rebounds, and over 2 blocks per game. With West keeping players like Hibbert and Lance Stephenson focused, the sky is the limit.

When you look at what Larry Bird has done, it is truly an incredible feat. This year will mark the 10-year anniversary of the Malice at the Palace. Going from clowns like Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson, to consummate professionals like Paul George and David West is no easy task. While the idea of a super teams like the Miami Heat have a shelf life, the Indiana Pacers will be around for a long time.

greg

At long last, Greg Oden made his season debut on Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards. When the former number one overall pick took less money to sign with the Miami Heat this offseason, it was clear Oden wanted one thing, a ring. Since being drafted in 2007, the former Ohio State big man has been disappointing to say the least. Before Wednesday, Oden hadn’t played in an NBA game since December 5th 2009. He had suffered through a career of anguish and struggle both on and off the court. Between his best friends passing in 2006 and his embarrassing photo leak in 2010, it is impressive that Oden showed the will to return all together. Based off the small sample size, that determination seems to have paid dividends. In an impressive eight minutes, Oden scored six points (including two dunks) and grabbed two rebounds.

Physically, Oden looks better than ever. He seems to have lost weight, while putting on muscle in his upper body. That combination is always a step in the right direction for big men. Mentally, he looked even better. To score his first points since 2009, Oden grabbed an offensive rebound off a Dwayne Wade miss, and put back and emphatic two hand dunk. After seeing a play like that, fans and coaches alike have to be encouraged by his performance and attitude.

Looking on the larger scale, this is exactly what the Miami Heat need. While their current three game losing streak is bad, it could just be a January slump. However, looking at the big picture, the Miami Heat will not make the Finals with this current roster. They aren’t as big or deep as the Indiana Pacers. With his natural size, Roy Hibbert is going to easily beat Chris Bosh and Chris Anderson in the paint. This then creates matchup problems all over the floor and allows Indiana to stretch the floor for their surplus of shooters. What Oden could do, on a smaller scale, is be Miami’s Roy Hibbert. At 7’0 280 lbs, Oden has the potential to be able to play Hibbert perfectly on both sides of the ball.

Bigger then anything he could do in his minutes on the court, is what having Oden means the Heat will not do. That big discontinue would be Miami’s reported interest in free agent big man Andrew Bynum. Bynum is the NBA’s second biggest cancer, losing the honor to J.R. Smith. From his lack of effort on court to his erratic  off the court behavior, Bynum needs to be avoided at all costs. The Heat don’t have enough player chemistry and Erik Spolestra is not respected enough to be able withstand the walking hurricane that is Andrew Bynum.

Now with all this being said, lets not go and put Greg Oden next to Wilt and Russel. In reality, he will only be a 10-15 minute player come April & May, but those 10-15 minutes can be the difference between a championship and not even making the finals. With his size and strength, Oden possess the ability to be that enforcer down low, who can also spread the floor for Lebron, Wade, Chalmers, and the rest of the Miami Heat.

pa

With Tip-Off fast approaching here’s an in-depth look at the league, Team by Team.
Indiana Pacers
Where they have been:
The past few seasons have seen the Pacers make the steady progression that the Oklahoma City Thunder are known for. In 2010 they made the playoffs for the first time since 2006, defeating the Top seeded Bulls. The following year they took the eventual champions, the Miami Heat to a 6 game series in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Last year, they took the eventual champions Miami Heat to a 7 game series in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Who they have:
Their starting lineup is gold. Roy Hibbert and David West are no nonsense, grind it out defenders that protect the paint, and can also score. Paul George is quickly establishing himself as one of the best two way players in the entire league. George Hill provides stability at the helm of the offense, he can score, pass, and most importantly defend. The last starting lineup spot goes to either Danny Granger or Lance Stephenson. Coach Frank Vogel can’t go wrong with either pick.
Who they have:
The Pacers have arguably one of the deepest benches in the league, capable of playing offense and defense. The focus of the offense on the bench will either be Danny Granger, or Lance Stephenson. Personally, I’m more in favor of Danny Granger coming off the bench, but that’s up to Frank Vogel. They made positive steps this offseason by signing Luis Scola, C.J Watson and Chris Copeland. Luis Scola has always been an efficient player. C.J Watson is a good defender, a decent scorer and a capable backup. Chris Copeland can provide instant offense in a pinch, play solid defense and rebound. The Pacers bench is excellent, a mixture of good defense and offense that will take the Pacers where they want to go.
What to Expect:
The Pacers are now one of the top teams in the NBA, and what do top NBA teams do? Compete for a championship. Look for the Pacers to win close to 60 games, grab a top 3 seed and play well into June