Now that the season has mercifully ended, we have a few weeks to kill before the Draft Lottery. Once the Lottery hits it will be all hope and rays of sunshine, so we have until May 18th for the unhappy task of reviewing this past season. I thought I would begin by handing out some awards for this year’s campaign.
Most Valuable Player – Danny Granger
I included Danny’s stats from last year, for comparison. A lot has been made of Danny ”falling off” from his All-Star performance of last year. I was as surprised as anyone to find that his statistics from this year and last are remarkably consistent. There was a definite decline in his FG%, due mostly to a slightly larger drop-off in his 3PT%. He averaged an almost identical number of 3PTA’s/40 so I would wager the decline is related to his shot selection. I think the perception that Danny “fell off” is related to two things:
- The team was not as competitive this year, especially during the first half of the season. Last year Danny’s shots had the opportunity to win or tie games. This year he was making shots to cut a 15 point defecit to 12.
- Over the summer we heard a lot about Danny’s recommittment at the defensive end. Unfortunately, this didn’t materialize on the court as expected. Danny is still an extremely capable defender, but the all-out, every possession effort we were promised wasn’t there.
Despite these concerns, the fact remains that Danny is far and away our most valuable player. According to his player page at 82games.com , when Danny was off the floor our Defensive Rating stayed at steady. Our offense, however, was -6.4 points per 100 possessions worse when he went to the bench. As painful as the Pacers were to watch this year, things would have been exponentially worse without him. Let’s hope some more help for Danny materializes over the summer!
Rookie of the Year – A.J. Price
Unfortunately, the injuries/debilitating ear infection sufferred by Tyler Hansborough made this a one horse race. I am not as high on A.J. as a lot of other people, but he definitely did some positive things this year. A.J. came in as a 2nd round pick and worked his way into a roster spot. After hanging on at the end of the bench for the first 3rd of the season, T.J. Ford’s benching gave him a chance to come in and play some meaningful minutes.
- The Good: A.J. provided some scoring pop off the bench, and energy and intensity for a team that was lacking both. He played fearlessly and proved that he is an NBA caliber player.
- The To-Do List: Nearly half of his shots this season were 3PTs. With some better shot selection he should be capable of increasing his 3PT%. The point guard position is unsettled right now and he has a chance to grab it. If he is going to that, he needs to do a better job of running the offense and looking more for the pass. If he is able to do this, it will show up in his Ast/40, A/TO, and Ast/Fga, as well as the team’s overall offensive efficiency when he is on the floor.
Most Improved Player – Roy Hibbert
This is another award where we will take a glass-half-full approach. Hibbert came into the season as the starting center, and brought increased expectations due to his strong rookie campaign. He made great strides in some areas, but was limited in others. It is frustrating to think how much more he could have accomplished, if the Pacers offensive system made more of an effort to feature him in the half-court. The largest limiting factor to his development continues to be opportunities to handle the ball in the post, and have the offense run through him.
- The Good: The biggest difference between Roy last year and this year, are his foul numbers and his minutes. Obviously, these numbers are directly related. He nearly cut his fouls in half and his minutes almost doubled. His FG%, points, rebounds, blocks and PER all stayed pretty flat. However, his contributions to the team increased incredibly just by virtue of him being on the floor twice as much. The other really nice area of improvement was his passing. Roy’s assists increased significantly and his A/TO moved into a positive ratio. This development will hopefully earn him a larger role in half-court sets next year.
- The To-Do List: As much as Roy improved his minutes and foul situation there is still more room to grow. Additional goals for next year should include raising his FG% over 50%, and increasing his rebounding totals.
Sixth Man of the Year – (Tie) Dahntay Jones and Josh McRoberts
Both players had up and down seasons. Jones definitely peaked earlier in the year, with McRoberts ending the season on a high note. I was surprised that both of their numbers were so good, especially McRoberts. They both showed flashes of being solid contributers over the next few seasons. Ironically, they both need work in the same area, jumpshooting. McRoberts needs to become more consistent with his mid-range jumper, and Jones just needs to stop shooting jumpers all together.
This was a difficult and depressing category to try and give an award for. Improving at the defensive end was a team goal for this season, and although it didn’t improve to the level we hoped, the Pacers were definitely better than last year. The most likely candidates to receive this award would have been Brandon Rush or Dahntay Jones. They are both athletic defenders, who compete hard, and usually defend the opposing teams best player. The problem is that the statistics don’t show either having much of an overall effect at the defensive end. The eye test tells you that these are the guys. The numbers say otherwise. I have already expressed my opinion on Brandon Rush’s defense in a seperate post. As far as Dahntay Jones, the Pacers gave up 108.2 Pts/100 Pos. with him on the floor, and 108.0 Pts/100 Pos. with him off the floor. They had a 48.3 eFG% allowed with him on the floor, and a 49.2 eFG% allowed with him off the floor. Not exactly overwhelming numbers. The kicker is the production of opposing players when being guarded by Jones (via his Queen City Hoops defensive stats). Opponents average more points than expected when being guarded by Jones, whether at the 2-guard or the small forward positions.
This leaves us with Roy. Although his Queen City Hoops stats look just as uninspiring, the Pacers played much better team defense when he was on the floor. Opponents scored 105.6 Pts/100 Pos. with him on the floor, and 110.7 Pts/100 Pos. with him off the floor. The Pacers had a 47.3 eFG% allowed with him on the floor, and a 50.4 eFG% allowed with him off the floor. When you throw in his 2.6 Blks/40, the award has to go to Roy, taking first place from an uninspiring field.
Coach of the Year – Lester Conner
Of all the awards, this was the easiest to decide. It really wasn’t even close. Let’s take a look at the stats:
|Winning Percentage||Offensive Rating||Defensive Rating||FG%||FG% Allowed|
Although we only have a one game sample size (O’Brien was attending a family funeral), it is clear that the offense flowed much better with Conner at the helm. Maybe he can give O’Brien some pointers for next season.