Not so long ago, we looked at the fact that the Pacers starting lineup was the second most effective unit in the NBA. This was encouraging, especially since both David West and Danny Granger have been individually stinking up the gym when it comes to making shots. The other interesting aspect is how much better this unit is playing than last year’s starting group — which featured four of the same five guys — did.
Last year, when the Pacers transitioned to the “starting lineup of the future” — Darren Collison, Paul George, Danny Granger, Tyler Hansbrough, Roy Hibbert — the team improved. But that group struggled. And it hasn’t been doing much better this year. Now, the only difference between the lineup above and the new starting lineup is the substitution of West for Hansbrough.
But the difference in results has been glaring.
- Last season, Collison, George, Granger and Hibbert played with Hansbrough for 329 minutes. In total, they were outscored by 19 points, or about 2.8 points per 48 minutes. On offense, they scored 104.9 points 100 possession while allowing 108.1 per 100 — meaning they were outscored by 3.2 points per 100.
- This season, Collison, George, Granger and Hibbert have played with David West for 165 minutes. They’ve outscored their opponents by 64 points — or a thoroughly ridiculous 19 points per 48 minutes. On offense, they have scored 111.9 per 100 possessions while allowing 92.7 per 100 — meaning they’ve outscored their opponents by 19.1 points per 100.
- Some things have changed this year. Collison, George and Hibbert are all more experienced for one. And this disparity is probably partially affected by Indiana’s schedule so far. However, last year’s starting lineup (DC/PG/Danny/Tyler/Roy) has been used sparingly this year (only 24 minutes). And it’s been a train wreck. They’ve been outscored by 11 points (over 22 points per 48 minutes), and scored only 85.4 per 100 possessions while allowing 104 points per 100 — being outscored by 18.6 points per 100.
- Over the two seasons combined, that means the the starting unit with West substituted for Tyler is 8.3 points better in offensive efficiency and 15.1 points better in defensive efficiency.
- Tyler’s numbers are somewhat concerning. Of the eight Pacers players who have seen consistent minutes so far this season (the starters, Tyler, George Hill, and Dahntay Jones), only Tyler (-1.7) and Dahntay (-11.7) have overall negative ratings (offensive efficiency minus defensive efficiency) during their time on the court. Granger has posted the best number (+12.9) followed by Collison (+11.3) and West (+8.9). Some of this likely can be attributed to the fact that Hansbrough has played 159 of his 308 minutes alongside Dahntay. During his time playing with Jones, Tyler is -5.0. In his other 149 minutes, he’s been +1.7. Still, overall, the team’s offense efficiency is 9.9 points worse with Tyler on the floor, and the defensive efficiency is 3.8 points worse.
It’s very early so we can’t read too much into such stats at this point, but the numbers beat up Tyler pretty hard in a relatively small sample size. But if we glance a little further, it seems that Dahntay may be Typhoid Mary here.
Consider these numbers:
- In the 122 minutes George Hill has played with Dahntay, the Pacers have scored 93.8 points per 100 possessions while allowing 111.3 points per 100 — good for a 17.5 rating per 100.
- By contract, in 156 minutes Hill has played without Dahntay, Indy has scored 102.1 points per 100 while allowing 84.8 per 100 — good for a +17.3 rating per 100. And during those 156 minutes, 100 have been with Tyler on the floor. When Hill and Tyler play together with Dahntay on the bench, the Pacers offense sucks (scoring only 93 points per 100) but their defense is strong (allowing just 85 points 100). Their overall net rating is +8 per 100.
Lastly, let’s look at some George Hill splits.
- He has played 101 minutes with West, and the overall numbers are positive (+4.8 per 100), but not great. But, 36 minutes also featured Dahntay on the floor, and those units posted a negative overall rating of 51.9 points per 100. In the other 65 minutes the offense (116.4 points per 100) and defense (83 points per 100) were both stellar.
- The Pacers haven’t exactly hummed when Hill has played point guard. In his 117 minutes at the one spot, the offense drops to 84.1 per 100 and the defense heads north to 103.0 per 100. Dahntay, who has been on the court 76 of the minutes Hill has run the team, isn’t really the factor on the offensive production side, where there’s almost no difference. Defensively, however the team is much worse — 110.1 per 100 in 76 Dahntay-filled minutes vs. 90.2 in 41 Dahntay-less minutes. I should note that these 117 minutes do include the times when Hill has been paired with Lance Stephenson, times when it is kind of unclear as to who is actually running the point. Interestingly, in 54 minutes when Hill has been paired with Lance in the backcourt, the Pacers are positive (+1.8 per 100), but not impressive (with an offensive efficiency of 93.5 and a defensive efficiency of 91.7).
- With Hill at the 2, the Pacers have been a juggernaut. In his 161 minutes playing shooting guard, they have scored 109.7 points per 100 and only allowed 91.2 per 100 — good for a +14.6 rating.
Based on this, it seems to me that not landing Jamal Crawford or OJ Mayo might work out reasonably well as long as Hill continues to get a lot of run at the 2. If you add the time with the Hill/Stephenson backcourt, that’s a 105.3 offensive efficiency and a 91.3 defensive efficiency in 214 minutes. It’s very hard to like this offense overall. But all this show major promise from Hill and West.