After (almost) ever Indiana Pacers game this year, we have given each player a grade for his performance. After the first half, we figured we would total the results and see where each player stood in terms of their “Midterm GPAs.” It is somewhat fitting that no Pacer player receive an A nor did any fall below a C+. Unlike many other better and worse teams in this league, Indiana hasn’t won many games based on individual great play. It has mostly been a true “all for one, one for all” first half of the year.
Obviously, there is no science behind all this, and the whole premise of grading a guy on a letter scale after a game is more a fun way to break down what just happened than it is something anyone should really care about over the long term. And the players, I think unavoidably, become graded on a curve based upon their expectations: Dahntay Jones isn’t being compared to how I would expect Dwyane Wade to play whereas Danny Granger likely is being knocked down a peg or two if his post-game stat line doesn’t look somewhat like LeBron’s usually does.
Still, we have been doing it all year (minus two games) so may as well tally up the totals. Here are the numerical GPAs for each guy through the first half of the year.
3.15 – Jeff Foster
3.00 – Roy Hibbert
2.87 – Darren Collison
2.81 – Danny Granger
2.75 – David West
2.71 – AJ Price
2.62 – Lou Amundson
2.56 – Lance Stephenson
2.52 – Dahntay Jones
2.50 – Paul George
2.48 – George Hill
2.42 – Jeff Pendergraph
2.42 – Tyler Hansbrough
The only thing that looks rather out of whack is Paul George being the “4th worst” player so far. But Hibbert, Granger and Collison have been the team’s most important three players while Hansbrough and Hill have mightily struggled for long stretches. So … not so far off from reality perhaps.
Below are the letter grades those correspond to for each guy, along with a little blurb about their first-half-of-the-season play. Hopefully, some of these guys can hit the books and bring up their averages before Finals.
|Jeff Foster - He certainly hasn’t been the best Pacer player this season, but he has the best mid-term grade. Honestly, it’s not that surprising: he has been the most consistent player and his stats rarely fluctuate to a degree that would give him a bad mark on any given game. Nor are most of his positive contributions predicated on stats.|
|Roy Hibbert - This has worked out perfectly: Roy Hibbert is the ultimate B student. He has so much potential but he doesn’t always hand in his best work. Sometimes he prefers to zone out for days — or even weeks — at a time rather than participate in class.|
|Darren Collison - Darren became this offense’s on-court leader about 20 games ago and has played the best NBA ball of his life since then. He still struggles to defend bigger guards, but he has gotten to a point where he knows when to run the play, when to find the hot hand and when to call his own number. That was never the case last year.|
|Danny Granger - His shooting has been Jeckyl & Hyde, but he — more than anyone on this roster — has won games in the 4th quarter for Indiana. He hasn’t had many duds of late, and Pacers fans should be hopeful that his errant jumpers were due to early-season rust and less-than-ideal decision making.|
|David West - Obviously the most important offseason acquisition for some time, which makes the overall grade lower than his impact has been. He has not always been a statistical beast (which unfortunately can sway our game-to-game grades), but his effect on the locker room and the offensive execution has been tremendous.|
|A.J. Price - Looks like a great backup at times. At others, he looks he should be a great backup in the D-League. Pacers fans should be hopeful, however. He was excellent to start the year then tailspun for a month before righting the ship for some excellent play heading into the All-Star Break.|
|Louis Amundson - Isn’t particularly skilled, but he plays hard and rarely tries to do anything he can’t. And in a season when Foster has been hurt a lot and Hansbrough has been worthless a lot, his contributions likely outweigh any that Brandon Rush could have made, regardless of how well he has shot in G-State. Nice to see Rush find a good home though.|
|Lance Stephenson - I was skeptical whether or not Born Ready would ever Be Ready, but he certainly has looked better of late. His shaky errors are occurring with less frequency than they were early in the year and he now generally looks poised and able to contribute as soon as he enters the game.|
|Dahntay Jones - John Keats said is best: Dahntay is Dahntay is Dahntay is Dahntay is Dahntay. I would add “Never change, Dahntay” but I know he won’t. Has been a key cog offensively off the bench in many a game and is a big presence in the locker room.|
|Paul George - With a 2.5 GPA so far, George falls right in between a C+ and a B-. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and bumping him up considering that his defense sometimes gets over-looked when we rely on the boxscore. It’s a fitting place for him, however, as he has had some of the most explosive single game performances of the year but many more “Meh” offensive outings. Could be better. Could be worse.|
|George Hill - Perhaps closer to an “incomplete” than a C+ due to the injuries, but it will be interesting to see if he will take advantage of this opportunity to hand in “make-up” work in the second half. He certainly played some very poor games, especially early in the year, even when he was fully healthy. Also was the MVP in 3 or 4 wins.|
|Jeff Pendergraph - Hasn’t actually played a meaningful minute this year so I will reserve any judgment. Basically, he took the semester off to backpack around Europe. In related news, I could see his career headed overseas some day, too. Seems like a nice kid though.|
|Tyler Hansbrough - Good god was his descent into ineptitude maddening. He started off the year playing as well as he ever has before getting poked in the eye, turning to the goggles and then turning into a pumpkin. It was all downhill from there. Fortunately, he had two nice outings against Charlotte to end the first half of the year. He badly needs to build on those and forget everything else that happened.|