Pondering the Pacers: Way too early report card

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The Pacers have been bad to start the season. Even with a win on Wednesday, it has not looked good. That being, beating Brooklyn while enduring the loss of Myles Turner impresses me as well. That being said, let’s get to the grades:


Impressive

Malcolm Brogdon, A

Were I to declare a standout player this season for the Pacers, it would be Brogdon. His shooting percentage is bad, but he is playing aggressively. He is shooting 17 times a game; if it keeps up, that would be his career high by five shots, averaging 22 points a game in the process. He is still shooting 38% from the three-point line, and he is currently compiling 11 assists a game. He is throwing dimes like this: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hPP37E6rGg

In the first game, Derrick Rose roasted everyone who guarded him, shooting six for his first six, and finishing with 18 in 27 minutes. In their second matchup, Brogdon snuffed him out, holding him to shooting 4-16 from the field. Kyrie Irving, who has been on fire, played good as opposed to lighting it up. 

If Brogdon keeps playing this, then expect him to gun for Most Improved Player. 

Good

Justin Holiday, B

I do not have a lot to say about Justin Holiday. However, even after four games, one thing is blatantly clear: he should be playing more. He has been the Pacers’ best wing defender, and he is making a decent amount of threes. He really should be playing more than 21.5 minutes a game.

Domantas Sabonis, B-

Myles Turner, C+

You cannot talk about one without discussing the other, it really has been the story of the season. The offense has looked a lot better than I could have expected. Nate McMillan insists on playing 3-out, 2-in and it is not doing great, but it is also not terrible. However, it should be known that the Pacers inextricably looked better without Turner in Brooklyn; Sabonis had free reign to roam the paint, and he dominated Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan. 

The three point defense is just worse when Sabonis and Turner (and TJ Warren) are in the game. These guys are both centers; they both want to be near the paint. This is fine if these are not two of your three best players; this is not fine when they are. For instance, this is a shot chart from their game against Cleveland on October 26th:

This is the shot chart from Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love. We will see if opposing tough big men keep dominating them, like Andre Drummond on opening night. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1hO2XaBVTQ

I would be remiss if I did not say how much I enjoyed how Turner is playing this season. He is covering the weak side well as he usually does, and he has been decisive on offense. I am enjoying when he actually chooses to shoot, and he has been effective from beyond the arc. Here’s to hoping he’s back soon.

Wait to See

Jeremy Lamb, Incomplete

TJ Warren, Incomplete

Edmond Sumner, Incomplete

These guys I have not made my mind up on just yet. Warren has been very bad on defense, and shot the dumbest late shot I have ever seen. Lamb has really done nothing too noteworthy, and I admittedly do not trust Edmond Sumner. Sumner is a blackjack player who hits every time, and when you gamble as much as he does, the defense suffers. I am withholding judgement for the time being.

Bad

Defense, F

This team had a top three defense in the league last year. They do not have a top three defense this year, and I believe it is because of three key changes in personnel: Putting Sabonis in the starting lineup, and swapping Wesley Matthews and Bojan Bogdanovic for Jeremy Lamb and TJ Warren, respectively. 

It is a known fact that a good defense does not happen overnight, but none of the additions were plus defensive players. Lamb has not been noticeably bad, but Warren dies on screens, and Sabonis cannot guard the perimeter. The Pacers 3-point defense has been bad from every area of the court, per NBA.com, and when Sabonis and Warren are the main defenders at the three and four, there is bound to be miscommunication and missteps. The season is still early, but I am very concerned with the Pacers this season. I am going to give it until around Christmas, however, to see how they gel.


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