Pacers to Tweak Rotation, Move George Hill to Backup PG to Make Room for Leandro Barbosa

After the Pacers acquired Leandro Barbosa at the trade deadline, I was a little confused. With Darren Collison, Paul George, George Hill, AJ Price and, at times, Lance Stephenson all receiving minutes, where did Larry Bird expect Leandro to fit in.

Well, now we know, according to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star.

Frank Vogel is changing the rotation. Leandro Barbosa is in as the backup shooting guard. George Hill is now the backup point guard. A.J. Price is the third point guard. Barbosa will make his Pacers debut against the Clippers tomorrow. “(Barbosa will play) anywhere between 15-20 minutes,” Vogel said. “He picked up a lot of our basic offensive sets today pretty quickly. We’ll see how he’s going and we’ll adjust it when he’s out there.”

This certainly makes some sense.

Barbosa has five times the resume of Price and Stephenson so he should naturally be ahead of them in the rotation. It does, however, mean moving Hill to the point. He has always been touted as a combo guard who can play both spots. He filled in admirably for an injured Tony Parker at times in San Antonio and was so successful that their was a legitimate fan movement to trade away the more expensive, less-defensive-minded French starter and hand the team over to Hill. And these aren’t crazy Heat fans who just starting watching the NBA a year ago. No, these were Spurs fans who through the osmosis of watching Coach Popovich and Tim Duncan alone usually know what they’re talking about at least somewhat.

Still, so far in Indiana, when Hill has been at his best, he has played the two almost exclusively. So it isn’t a question of whether he can handle shifting over to the point, but whether by doing so, he will lose a little bit of what has made him the team’s best player off the bench this season and the MVP of, by my memory, at least 5 of its wins.

Then again, the team is reeling from two tough losses to the Knicks and, other than that two-game win streak last week, hasn’t had a ton of wins over good teams to get excited about. Perhaps this is the answer. There is no question that Barbosa can add some scoring punch to a second unit that badly needs it.

I suppose the only question is whether the scoring upgrade the reserves get from going from Price to Barbosa will supersede the potential downgrade of putting the team’s best bench scorer all year into a distributor role? Or perhaps I’m thinking too much like it is 1994 and positions still matter. It’s hard to presume that Hill can continue to be as willing to call his own number and aggressive when it will also be his responsibility to ensure that Tyler gets his touches and Barbosa gets his open looks. But point guards like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook have sort of re-defined the mold of how effective a high-volume scoring floor general can be.

So rather than keep over-thinking this, let’s just see if having two guards who have proven they can score off the bench is better than having just the one. It is a pretty simple game after all.

Topics: News

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  • little B

    I like the move. We have all seen what an impact it makes when DC has a high scoring game. (ex. Heat game, DC had an amazing game, if he makes one of his last 2 drives, game over). However I don’t think DC can’score like that every night, but GH has a better chance at that and giving him some games actually in the point of the 2nd string will prepare him incase the Pacers continue to slide and need to change something up in the starting rotation. I am not counting DC out yet, he was the PG when the Pacers were 22-11, but now they are 25-18 with a whopping 6-13 record vs the current teams in the playoff picture in the East. Better to try and figure something out now, before its too late. 23 games left. Pacers have 6 games against these opponents left with 4 of them at home. If they win 3-4 of these games they should be fine. However Boston, Atlanta are on their butts and now the Knicks are in the picture as well.
    Being a 7 or and 8 seed would be a let down after the start this team had, but it still wouldnt be a worthless season if they ended as a 7 or 8 seed. Pacers need to win 12 games of the 23 left to have as many wins as they did last year and that would be done with 16 less games. That would be an accomplishment in itself. And they would have a whole offseason with lots of money to make this team even better. They have proven they can compete with the best, now they just need to do it night in and night out.

  • Jeremy Comstock

    I’m a little leery of changing Hill’s role for the reasons you mentioned. However, the biggest problem that I’ve seen with the bench this year is that Hill is the only competent outside shooter. Adding Barbosa, a very good shooter, to this mix, should serve to open things up a bit more for Tyler on the inside and unclog the driving lanes for Hill and Jones.

  • JRC

    Sounds like a plan to me. Maybe Hill’s PG production will improve with more playing time at the position. This is a good move all around, I think. The team is slipping a bit, and the front office managed to rent a pretty good player to shake things up just a bit. Perhaps it is a bit of “throwing crap at the wall to see what will stick”, but they’ve already tried pretty much every combination with what is currently on the roster. Need the defense to get back to what it was early in the season, and we need the bench to have more scoring punch. Second need has been addressed (in theory), now we just need to fix the first, which is mostly about effort and focus, anyway.

  • AJ

    Still think Hill should start and DC should come off the bench, but let’s see what happens. I just feel that the starters all know that sharing the ball and spreading the floor makes that unit successful, and Hill is a better outside shooter and smarter player in that regard than DC. DC was at his best in a pure PNR system, and so was Tyler at the end of last year. They were very effective battery mates, and if Barbosa could play the Hornacek role, the bench would mesh well with DC running the show. Plus, the utter speed we’d have with DC and Barbosa could really throw teams off-balance. I trust Vogel and sthe staff tho. Let’s get a win tonight, fellas!

  • Zach Winningham

    I’m really glad to hear that Barbosa picked up some of the offensive sets in practice. I wasn’t aware we had offensive sets.

  • Realist

    Zach gets points for being funny and right at the same time.

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