Can T.J. Ford Be the Role Player the Pacers Need?

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T.J. Ford has had a lot of ups-and-downs in his careers so far with the Indiana Pacers. Despite he is just entering his third season, he has been handled with a lot of criticism after just one season. That season, Ford produced well with 14.9 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game.

The next year, Ford would be benched for many games, up to about 30. At that time, A.J. Price and Earl Watson took the load. Both performed great and Ford was moved to the third option at point guard for the rest of the season. In 47 games, Ford tried his best to prove to the Pacers that he was the point guard for them, averaging 10.3 points, 3.8 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game.

However, it wasn’t enough to satisfy the Pacers. They let go of Watson and along with that, Price was out for much of the first half of next season. With that in mind, many would think Ford would go back to his role of a starting point guard. Nope. Indy would draft Lance Stephenson in the second round of the draft and would acquire Darren Collison in a trade. The Pacers were so badly of not wanting Ford as a starter that they tried very hard to let go of him in the trade that involved Collison. But it never pulled through.

Ford will probably enter the year as the second option for the point guard position. The Pacers will probably want Stephenson to be benched for many games. But in a few months, Ford will be placed to a third option if Lance proves himself and is worthy enough of a second-option to Collison. Then when Price heals, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a battle for the third option spot. Then once the trade deadline rolls around, Ford may get traded.

That’s just a guess to many NBA observers out there, but I tend to disagree. I think Lance will stay at the third option while Price hangs in there. Ford is likely to average 10-20 minutes every night he plays. He is going to be the role player Indy needs coming off the bench. Ford realizes that he needs to get his assist-count total a bit more up to get rid of his “ballhog” term that is still acquired to him since the 2008-09 season.

Ford could be seeing 8-11 points averaged along with 4-6 assists. Most likely, Ford won’t be traded. But if he produces very well, Indy could keep him and sign him to a very low amount. Or, they could just not sign him and leave him as a free agent so they can go shopping in 2011 with all their cap space that is available if they were to get rid of all of their expiring contracts.

But Ford is definitely going to be needed. Stephenson will have his share, but we’ll save that for another player profile of the Pacers!

Tags: Indiana Pacers NBA T.J. Ford