Roy Hibbert's New Competition


I’m going to try not to focus on the West Coast aspect of this summer’s biggest trade, you know, the one that put Dwight Howard alongside Kobe Bryant as he tries to match Jordan’s six rings by beating the league’s other super team, the Miami Heat. (Sorry, we are contractually obligated to mention them). Instead, I want to talk about the aspect of the trade that directly affects the Indiana Pacers.

While it is a luxury for all Eastern contenders to be able to rid themselves of Howard’s presence, it does not mean that the conference is now void of a dominant big man. As you well know by now, Andrew Bynum was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in the same deal.

From a national perspective I have already heard the words “instantly becomes the best center in the Eastern conference” said about Bynum a number of times. With all due to respect to Mr. Bynum, I believe Roy Hibbert deserves the chance to throw his hat in the ring this season.

While Howard was part of the Eastern Conference it was unfair to compare him to Hibbert. Howard’s talents, resume and statistics speak for themselves. That’s no disrespect to Hibbert, Howard is just that good. But I wouldn’t make that same claim about Bynum. I’ll admit that Bynum, who has been in the league three years longer than Hibbert, has shown, at times, a higher level of dominance, but that gap is narrowing. While most people talk about Bynum’s potential to match Howard, I believe that Hibbert is closer in value to Bynum than Bynum is to Howard.

With Bynum being a member of the Sixers, the Pacers will see much more of him, especially considering Philadelphia is an up-and-coming contender in the East much like Indiana. You may remember that while the Pacers were playing the Heat to a six game series, the Sixers was pushing the Celtics to the limit in a seven-game series.

Bynum and Hibbert will surely be the focus points of any Sixers/Pacers match-ups. Taking a look at Bynum and Hibbert’s head-to-head match-ups (which can be found at Basketball-reference.com) gives us a little insight to their history.

The sample size is small, the two have only faced off against each other six times. As one might have guessed Bynum holds the statistical advantage.

Points Per Game
Bynum: 16.5
Hibbert:12.7

Field Goal %
Bynum: .684
Hibbert: .538

Rebounds Per Game
Bynum: 7.8
Hibbert: 4.8

Blocks Per Game
Bynum: 0.3
Hibbert: 1.3

Bynum proved to be the better offensive player in head-to-head matchups, which correlates with Bynum’s better offensive statistics for his career.

It should be noted, however, that five of their six match-ups took place in 2010 or earlier and the only recent match-up between the two players had different results.

On January 22, 2012, the two players faced off and Hibbert recorded 18 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists compared to Bynum’s 16 points, 8 rebounds and 1 assist. Hibbert’s efforts led to a Pacers’ victory over the Lakers. This game came during a season in which both players were unquestionably having the best seasons of their careers and both played in the All-Star Game.

While Bynum and Hibbert have similarities as players, they come across quite differently off the court. Hibbert has done a great job of presenting himself as a likable and respected member of the Indiana community and the NBA as a whole. Check his Twitter (@Hoya2Pacer) right now and you are likely to find evidence of him interacting with his fans or reiterating his gratefulness to be a Pacer.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say Andrew Bynum is a bad guy, but eccentric might be a fair term. There was the time he was kicked out of a playoff game for elbowing J.J. Barea and subsequently took his jersey off. There are his random sound bites that seemingly channel his inner Metta World Peace. There was his insistance on shooting three-point shots in a close game. Heck, he landed in Philly for his press conference in Lakers gear.

Two top centers with clashing personalities on young, up-and-coming playoff teams? Sounds like the recipe for a potential rivalry. With Hibbert signing a five-year extension in Indiana and Bynum leaning towards an extension with Philadelphia himself, these two could be battling for “best center in the East” for quite some time.

Their first match-up comes Friday, December 14, in Indina.

Tags: Andrew Bynum

  • grammar police

    YOUR joking, right? I’ve also sucked Jared Wade’s ball sack, constantly, but have never seen you THEY’RE.

  • Hoosier

    Ok. Ok. Maybe Ryan Anderson would not be a good fit for the Pacers. I was simply thinking they could use a big that can hit from deep, or a 3pt specialist at whatever position (Novak), to increase the teams versatility off the bench. BigSmooth and Chris Mullin are not walking through that door! My options were limited. I gave it a shot. Anderson is being paid! 4yr-36mil. That is definitely laughable. I can handle being wrong all day long, especially when the Pacers get it right!

  • Jack

    hahahaahahahaha ohh man do i hate the miami heat

  • Hoosier

    Is trading for Josh Smith a good idea? It probably means giving up David West, but definitely helps the Pacers D-Up LeBron. I probably know as much about J. Smith as any casual Hawks fan, meaning not much!!! My main concerns would be the loss of leadership and change of chemistry. On paper, it looks like an even trade, with a + to the Pacers defense. As a fan, i think David West is a much better team fit. Also, Josh Smith is unrestricted after this season. If the Hawks dont find a good deal for him early, he could be available at the trade deadline, if Atlanta is struggling. The deal sounds intriguing, and risky.

  • Hoosier

    Of all the Pacers signings for training camp, i think Sam Young has the best chance to make the team. But, let’s talk about something that’s really important: Sam Young – Terry Crews! Seperated at Birth?!? Anyone?

  • ESPN Insider Pirate

    Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 roster
    By John Hollinger

    Here are my player scouting reports and 2012-13 projections for the Indiana Pacers. (Note: Projections are for players who played 500 or more minutes in the NBA in ’11-12.)

    PROJECTED STARTERS

    GEORGE HILL, PG
    Hollinger’s 2012-13 Projections
    PTS 15.2
    REB 4.4
    AST 4.5
    PER 14.97
    (Stats are per 40 minutes)
    ——————————————————————————–
    Scouting report
    + Long-armed combo guard with the handle of a point guard but a scorer’s mindset.
    + Good spot-up shooter. Effective defender with long arms, especially at the 2.
    + Can slash to the basket and draw fouls. Slim build. Fairly athletic.

    Analysis
    I’ve always liked Hill better as a 2 than a 1, but as last season progressed he honed his point guard skills enough to do a solid job in that role. Hill had a career high in assist rate and a career low in turnover rate; in fact he had the fourth-lowest turnover rate at his position. While he still didn’t create a ton (4.6 assists per 40 minutes), he at least got Indiana into plays, especially compared to Darren Collison.

    Hill was considerably more potent as a shooter, ranking 14th at his position in true shooting percentage. He made 36.7 percent of his 3s and 42.2 percent of his long 2s, and despite shooting mostly jumpers got to the line more often than most point guards.

    Defensively his length proved helpful in multiple areas, ranking among the leading point guards in rebounds and blocks while using his size advantage to play a half-step off most opponents. He does his best work against big point guards and short wings, but statistically he had solid grades across the board — most notably, opposing point guards had just a 9.2 player efficiency rating against him according to 82games.com, while shooting guards didn’t fare much better at 11.7.

    PAUL GEORGE, SG
    Hollinger’s 2012-13 Projections
    PTS 17.7
    REB 7.5
    AST 3.4
    PER 17.42
    (Stats are per 40 minutes)
    ——————————————————————————–
    Scouting report
    + Long, smooth wing with natural scoring instincts. Can shoot and finish.
    + Struggled on D but showed potential. Quick hands and reads passing lanes.
    + Needs to play more aggressively, make better decisions and refine moves.

    Analysis
    Man, does this guy have an exciting future. Big wings who can handle and shoot never go out of style and are far more rare than this center-obsessed league seems to realize. George is 6-8 with 3-point range and can split pick-and-rolls off the dribble; the main obstacles to his eventual stardom appear to be his own aggressiveness and decision-making.

    He made sharp progress in his second season, however, and his athleticism spills out on the stats sheet: Among shooting guards, he ranked second in rebound rate, fourth in steals, eighth in blocks and 10th in PER, and he shot 63.1 percent at the rim with a high foul rate. But his skill is apparent too; he made 38.5 percent of his 3s and 81.5 percent from the line.

    Right now his weak points are all the finer stuff. He still turns it over too much (52nd out of 61 small forwards) and struggles with decision-making, and his jumper off the dribble still needs work — he hit just 32.9 percent of his 2s from 10 to 23 feet.

    Defensively it’s a similar story: He can be an impact defender with his length and athleticism, but he fouls too much (fourth-highest rate among shooting guards) and that takes him off the floor at times. Additionally, his on-ball defense isn’t quite as strong as his disruptive plays off of it, although a move to his more natural small forward spot might help.

    Nonetheless, I’ll be surprised if he’s not in an All-Star Game at some point in the next few years, and he represents Indiana’s best opportunity to take another step up in class in the East.

    DANNY GRANGER, SF
    Hollinger’s 2012-13 Projections
    PTS 21.7
    REB 5.8
    AST 2.3
    PER 16.98
    (Stats are per 40 minutes)
    ——————————————————————————–
    Scouting report
    + Deep-shooting forward with a quick, accurate trigger. Very big for a wing.
    + Very effective going right but has a weak left hand. Draws fouls, money from the line.
    + Solid defender with good size. Limited court vision — drives to score.

    Analysis
    Granger’s game isn’t always easy on the eyes, iso-ing for 20-footers or pretending he’s running a pick-and-roll for something other than his own jump shot, but it is effective. He generated a slew of shots with very few turnovers — cutting his rate sharply from a season earlier — and his TS% was well above the norm for a small forward.

    Break it down and it was mostly the 3s that did it — he shot 38.1 percent from distance, but hit only 43.4 percent of his 2s. However, he drew a lot of fouls for a jump shooter and shot 87.3 percent, the best mark of any small forward; between that and the 3s, it offset his subpar shooting inside the arc. In particular, contested long 2s have been a problem for him. He shot only 36.3 percent on 2s beyond 10 feet last season, after hitting 35.0 percent the season before.

    As for passing, Granger didn’t really do that much — only 11 small forwards assisted less often — and that’s the biggest limitation on his game. On the flip side, however, he’d also benefit from a more natural point guard running things and getting him cleaner looks at jumpers, rather than forcing him to iso so much.

    Defensively, I thought Granger was one of the league’s most improved players. His effort was much more consistent than a season earlier, and all his statistical grades were positive. The Pacers gave up 3.6 points per 100 possessions fewer with him on the court and he allowed only a 12.7 PER to opposing small forwards, according to 82games.com. Notably, Indiana also put him in size mismatches less because it hardly ever played small with him at the 4.

    DAVID WEST, PF
    Hollinger’s 2012-13 Projections
    PTS 17.2
    REB 8.5
    AST 2.7
    PER 17.18
    (Stats are per 40 minutes)
    ——————————————————————————–
    Scouting report
    + Highly skilled power forward who can shoot and handle. Deadly from midrange.
    + Average athlete but attacks off the dribble for jump hooks. Loves going between his legs.
    + Average at best defensively. Undersized, can’t jump, and won’t give fouls.

    Analysis
    West made a solid recovery from a torn ACL the year before, using his pick-and-pop and ballhandling skills to become a focal point of the Pacers’ offense. The one key difference was that West couldn’t jump. He was never a leaper, but he barely got any elevation at all last season. His rebound and block numbers declined, but it was more apparent when he tried to shoot over long defenders near the basket.

    Nonetheless, he was a big positive both on offense and in the locker room. West’s pick-and-pop game made the offense flow. He hit a stellar 45.6 percent of his 2s beyond 10 feet while taking nearly five a game, and when defenses closed he could find the open man or dribble drive. West finished in the top quarter of power forwards in both assist and turnover rate, too, so despite a low foul rate and a middling true shooting percentage, he was a major positive offensively.

    On defense he showed he can still move a little, though having Roy Hibbert’s length behind him really helped. West’s primary value will always be at the offensive end, but he didn’t hurt Indiana on defense last season, a pleasant surprise given his recovery from the knee injury. With one year more of recovery, he may prove more mobile than a season ago. Although he’s 31 and his jump-shooting numbers may regress a bit, his high-skill game should age well.

    ROY HIBBERT, C
    Hollinger’s 2012-13 Projections
    PTS 17.6
    REB 11.1
    AST 2.8
    PER 18.37
    (Stats are per 40 minutes)
    ——————————————————————————–
    Scouting report
    + Long big man with 18-foot range, post moves and great short-range touch.
    + Slow-footed defender, but his conditioning has improved. Mediocre rebounder.
    + Good passer and shot-blocker. Makes free throws. Stamina limits minutes.

    Analysis
    Hibbert took a major step forward offensively and on the boards last season, making his first All-Star team by being consistently good in nearly every category. Hibbert was above the league median for centers in all but two categories, defensive rebound rate and 2-point shooting percentage, and even in those two he was just a whisker south of the mark.

    Top Shooters From 3-15 feet, 2011-12
    Player ——————- Team ———- Pct.
    Roy Hibbert ———– Ind ————– 47.9
    Carlos Boozer ——- Chi ————– 47.5
    Chris Paul ————- LAC ———— 47.5
    LaMarcus Aldridge – Por ————- 47.1
    Jarrett Jack ———– NO ————– 46.5

    Min. 150 attempts. Source: Hoopdata.com

    But his specialty is short-to-medium range shooting (see chart). With an unblockable jump hook on the block that he can make with either hand, and a soft touch from the free throw area, Hibbert was the league’s best shooter last season in the tricky area between 3 and 15 feet, converting 47.9 percent while taking nearly six tries a game from this range. The bulk of them were close-in post-ups that enabled his jump hook, a potent weapon at his 7-2 height. Hibbert complemented that by improving his command of double-teams, drawing more fouls and crashing the offensive boards more.

    Hibbert’s two other weaknesses were fouls and stamina, but last season he fouled at a rate below the league average for centers — a massive improvement compared to his first two seasons. As for the stamina thing — the Pacers may just have to live with that. Hibbert averaged only 29.8 minutes per game last season and 30.9 even in the playoffs, as he requires frequent breathers.

    But when he does play, he’s been able to sustain his effort defensively and has become much better at protecting the rim while avoiding fouls. Indiana was marginally better with him on the court, but Synergy gave him the best grades on the team and subjectively he seemed to cope with pick-and-rolls much better than in the past.
    ——————————————————————————–

  • ESPN Insider Pirate

    RESERVES

    IAN MAHINMI, C
    Hollinger’s 2012-13 Projections
    PTS 12.0
    REB 9.7
    AST 0.5
    PER 12.77
    (Stats are per 40 minutes)
    ——————————————————————————–
    Scouting report
    + Athletic big man and high-percentage finisher near the basket. Draws lots of fouls.
    + Has a limited perimeter game and very poor ball skills. Lacks strength for a true 5.
    + Mobile defender but uncoordinated. Has sky-high foul rate. Injury-prone.

    Analysis
    Mahinmi is a free throw machine — at both ends. Offensively he ranked sixth among centers in free throw attempts per field goal attempt, and while he’s not a great foul shooter those freebies still allowed him to post the 10th-best TS% at his position — even though his mark shattered his career low. It may all look a bit clumsy, but he shot 66.7 percent in the basket area, got to the line and scored at a decent rate.

    Defensively, however, he gives as good as he gets. Mahinmi averaged a foul every 6.5 minutes, the sixth-worst rate among centers, as he too often found himself in size mismatches and is a bit uncoordinated. He moves well and his defensive stats were solid in other respects, but his high foul rate makes it difficult for him to be more than a bench player.

    As a third big, however, you could do worse. He is 25 and has put up better numbers in his previous seasons, and even last season he was 39th among centers in PER. He’s a passable 10-foot shooter and can play 4 in a pinch, he rebounds fairly well, and as noted above his ability to draw fouls and finish makes him a plus offensively, even if he’s not much of a creator. A four-year deal is a risk, but he should help Indy.

    TYLER HANSBROUGH, PF
    Hollinger’s 2012-13 Projections
    PTS 17.1
    REB 8.5
    AST 1.0
    PER 14.80
    (Stats are per 40 minutes)
    ——————————————————————————-
    Scouting report
    + Short-armed, hustling power forward with good strength and a scorer’s mentality.
    + Draws lots of fouls by attacking rim. Selfish offensive player who forces low, line-drive J’s.
    + Lacks length, but quick for his size and defends pick-and-roll well. Subpar rebounder.

    Analysis
    While Hansbrough’s attacking, aggressive mindset is impressive and yields some positive results, one can’t help wonder how much better he might do if he ever passed. Hansbrough is one of the league’s most frustrating players because once he takes a dribble or gets an offensive board, he’s never, ever giving it up, no matter how many defenders rotate in his way. Only three power forwards had a lower assist rate last season, even though he usually operated out of the high post — “assist central” for most big men.

    Hansbrough also forces too many jumpers, taking four shots a game from beyond 10 feet and converting only 33.6 percent of them. As a result, he shot just 40.6 percent on 2-pointers — only six power forwards were worse. The free throws were a saving grace, especially since he hit 81.3 percent from the line, but it’s hard to argue his offense was a positive overall.

    Defensively, Hansbrough is tough and moves well, but his lack of size seemed more problematic last season playing next to another undersized player at center (Lou Amundson). Hansbrough had the third-worst rate of blocks and, more surprisingly, the seventh-worst defensive rebound rate among power forwards.

    Opposing power forwards had a 16.4 PER at his expense, according to 82games.com, and the Pacers gave up 2.6 points per 100 possessions more with him on the court, although Synergy graded him very well. With more length next to him in Miles Plumlee and Ian Mahinmi, I suspect his defense will become a net positive.

    D.J. AUGUSTIN, PG
    Hollinger’s 2012-13 Projections
    PTS 15.3
    REB 3.0
    AST 8.0
    PER 14.57
    (Stats are per 40 minutes)
    ——————————————————————————–
    Scouting report
    + Quick, tiny point guard who can penetrate and dish. Needs to add a floater.
    + Struggles defensively due to lack of size, especially when posted up.
    + Improved passer and distributor. Great foul shooter, but mediocre from 3.

    Analysis
    I really like the progress Augustin has made as a distributor in his four seasons, but if he doesn’t start making shots and getting some defensive stops, it’s not going to matter. First, the good news: Augustin had a career-high assist rate, with nearly nine dimes per 40 minutes despite not having a bewildering array of options around him, and ranked seventh in the NBA in pure point rating. I think we can stop calling him a “shoot-first” guard.

    If anything, he should be shoot-last. Augustin hit only 37.6 percent from the floor, including a pathetic 39.6 percent on 2-point shots. In particular, he was the game’s worst finisher last season, converting only 48.3 percent of his shots at the rim (see chart). On a positive note, he narrowly missed leading all Bobcats point guards in this category.

    Worst Shooting Percentage At Rim, 2011-12
    Player ————- Team — FG% at rim
    D.J. Augustin — Cha —– 48.3
    Kemba Walker – Cha —– 49.4
    Wes Matthews – Por —– 49.5
    Norris Cole ——- Mia —– 50.0
    Darren Collison — Ind —– 52.6

    Min. 150 attempts. Source: Hoopdata.com

    Finally, while Augustin is a great foul shooter (87.6 percent) for his career, that hasn’t translated to his 3-point shooting, where he submitted another mediocre performance last season. A tiny guard like Augustin has to be able to punish defenses from out there, and he hasn’t consistently done it. Augustin could also use a floater, over the past two seasons he’s a miserable 27.7 percent from between 3 and 15 feet.

    Meanwhile, he got lit defensively. Synergy, 82games.com and the advance regularized adjusted plus-minus all agreed he was terrible, and have been nodding their heads in unison for years now. Opposing point guards had 19.8 PER against him according to 82games.com, the Bobcats gave up 4.6 points per 100 possessions more with him on the court, and Synergy placed him near the bottom of the league’s point guard heap. For a speedy little guard he’s surprisingly mediocre laterally and has one of the lowest steal rates among point guards every season.

    Basically, he’s a backup. As much as one might admire his improved distribution, he just doesn’t make enough shots to be a viable starter, especially given the defensive shortcomings.

    GERALD GREEN, SG
    Hollinger’s 2012-13 Projections
    PTS 20.0
    REB 5.4
    AST 1.8
    PER 15.25
    (Stats are per 40 minutes)
    ——————————————————————————–
    Scouting report
    + Athletic, explosive leaper with ideal size for a small forward. Ridiculous dunker.
    + Strong 3-point shooter. Ball skills only adequate, and prone to turnovers.
    + Lean build. Defense, basketball IQ and decision-making still are question marks.

    Analysis
    In a panel at the Sloan Sports Conference a couple years ago, Dallas owner Mark Cuban famously opined that Green “had no idea how to play basketball.” At the time that was true, but Green has figured some things out since then. He showcased his newfound competence in a late-season call-up with New Jersey last season, after he had absolutely destroyed the D-League.

    The biggest difference is his 3-point shot, and how he uses it to set up the rest of his game. Green made 45.8 percent of his 3s in the D-League and 39.1 percent as a Net; he proved it wasn’t a fluke by also making 41.9 percent of his long 2s. With his size and leaping ability, he can get his shot off against any defender. Meanwhile, Green shot 70.7 percent in the basket area, including an assortment of highlight-reel dunks (an alley-oop windmill in a late-season game against Houston takes the cake). Finally, Green’s forays to the rim also yielded a high free throw rate.

    The question marks about Green at this point have nothing to do with his ability. Can he maintain his effort and concentration? Can he fit in as a role player on a winning team in Indiana, as opposed to putting up numbers on a bad team in New Jersey? Can he play defense the way he plays offense?

    The good news on that last front is that Green defended pretty darned well for the Nets. New Jersey gave up 6.0 fewer points per 100 possessions with Green on the court, and according to 82games.com opposing small forwards had only a 9.9 PER against him. If those numbers hold up, the Pacers have themselves a steal.

    MILES PLUMLEE, PF
    Hollinger’s 2012-13 Projections
    PTS N/A
    REB N/A
    AST N/A
    PER N/A
    Did not play 500 NBA minutes last season
    ——————————————————————————–
    Scouting report
    + Athletic, pogo-stick big man who can run the floor and rebound. Good motor.
    + Non-scorer who gets points on dunks. Very old for a rookie. Good strength.

    Analysis
    Plumlee was an interesting first-round choice, because he has a crazy vertical for a player of his size and a single, elite-level skill: Only two prospects had a higher rebound rate. Nonetheless, he has a lot to argue against him, starting with the lack of production as a collegian against players two and three years younger than him. Plumlee turned 24 in September and didn’t rebound at nearly the same rate in his sophomore and junior seasons.

    Additionally, he’s a non-factor on offense and blocked shockingly few shots for a big man who can jump. Indiana took a flier to fill a hole at backup center, and he’ll definitely get his share of rebounds. I’m just not convinced he’ll do enough else to justify playing him.

    LANCE STEPHENSON, SG
    Hollinger’s 2012-13 Projections
    PTS N/A
    REB N/A
    AST N/A
    PER N/A
    Did not play 500 NBA minutes last season
    ——————————————————————————–
    Scouting report
    + Average athlete with good handle, superior strength, solid midrange shot.
    + Character, commitment are major questions. Makes bad decisions with the ball.
    + Needs to improve long-range shot mechanics. Rebounds well. Can post up.

    Analysis
    The Pacers tried Stephenson as a backup point guard last season, and I’m guessing they won’t try it again. Stephenson has some genuine skills as a passer and a decent handle, but he can’t shoot and doesn’t make the right play consistently enough — ergo his massive turnover rate.

    He’s an NBA-caliber athlete and he’s only 22, so there’s some hope that he might be able to turn things around. But his jumper is broken and one suspects any future he has will be as a wing player, where his decisions will be less destructive.

    SUNDIATA GAINES, G
    Hollinger’s 2012-13 Projections
    PTS 14.9
    REB 5.3
    AST 6.3
    PER 15.3
    (Stats are per 40 minutes)
    ——————————————————————————–
    Scouting report
    + Strongly built, scoring-minded point guard who draws fouls.
    + Poor outside shooter and terrible free throw shooter. Bit of a tweener.
    + Excels at ball pressure, amazing knack for steals. Great rebounder for his size.

    Analysis
    My 10-second scouting report on Gaines: If he could shoot he’d be really good. Gaines is elite in several areas that don’t require shooting a basketball. Among point guards he was third in rebound rate, eighth in free throw rate and second in steals. Unfortunately, he was also 65th out of 70 points guards in 2-point shooting, 69th in free throw percentage and 57th in TS%. He’s more of a scorer than a point guard, however, and had the second-worst assist quality among point guards.

    On the other hand, Gaines’ knack for steals was notable. He’s excellent at pressuring the ball and the Nets used a lot of pressing tactics with him in the game, resulting in an incredible 2.77 steals per 40 minutes last season, good for second in the NBA.

    Gaines’ overall defensive impact was more questionable; he lacks size and his gambles took him out of position at times. While the Nets were marginally better with him on the court, it’s hard to attach too much meaning to this given how awful they were overall. Synergy had him in the middle of the pack as well.

    Nonetheless, he’s a useful player despite his shortcomings. He’s put up respectable numbers for three straight seasons at the NBA level, and he destroyed the D-League in 2010-11. He’s unorthodox and some teams will flinch at that, but you could do a lot worse as a backup point guard.

    SAM YOUNG, SF
    Hollinger’s 2012-13 Projections
    PTS N/A
    REB N/A
    AST N/A
    PER N/A
    Did not play 500 NBA minutes last season
    ——————————————————————————–
    Scouting report
    + One-on-one scorer who tends to stop the ball. Very strong, overpowers small wings.
    + Awesome shot fake off the catch. No 3s, but good midrange J. Good rebounder.
    + Solid defender. Tough, physical, aggressive. No court vision at all.

    Analysis
    If you’re going to be a ball-stopping one-on-one player, you at least need to make your shots. Young couldn’t buy a bucket last season, and as a result found himself strapped to the bench in Memphis and Philadelphia. Shooting 35.4 percent with a low free throw rate will do that, including an abysmal 21-of-81 away from the rim.

    Given the small sample, one suspects this was an outlier, especially since Young’s other numbers hardly changed. But the decline in free throw attempts was worrisome. He’s not a good enough shooter to live off midrange jumpers, so he needs to get to the basket more than he did last season. If so, he can again be a useful second-unit scorer for the right team. If not, he won’t be around for long.

    JEFF PENDERGRAPH, PF
    Hollinger’s 2012-13 Projections
    PTS N/A
    REB N/A
    AST N/A
    PER N/A
    Did not play 500 NBA minutes last season
    ——————————————————————————–
    Scouting report
    + Tough 4 who can rebound. Decent athlete who can score around basket.
    + Needs work on perimeter game and ball skills. Defensive mobility a question.

    Analysis
    Pendergraph is a dying breed in the NBA — a power forward who can’t space the floor. He’s too short to play center so he has to make it work at the 4, and he’s put up pretty good numbers in his limited minutes in Portland and Indiana. Last season he made only 5 of his 20 shots away from the basket, but he’s a pretty effective garbage man around the basket thanks to a strong motor. He had missed an entire season due to a knee injury before coming back in 2011, and may get a stronger chance at sustained minutes this time around.

  • Rabble

    Wow! What a bunch of, um, useless stats. When does training camp start? PER 40 is the most useless stat since, since… well, since the Per 36 stat. Pirate? Do you have anything original to say? Stop wasting my time with other peoples words! Cut and Paste an opinion of your own or piss off. Dang, people!

  • Realist

    Apparently we signed Australian (Aussies represent) Luke Nevill.

    The good news is he’s 7’2. The bad news is he pretty much sucks. Big Lurch we call him. Oh well.

  • PG

    Stop bitching Rabble. I enjoyed reading Hollinger’s take, especially on the starters. It’s not original content, but it’s material that the majority of us probably don’t have access to.

    Not sure why the Pacers need Nevill, there are enough tall stiffs on the team.

  • Realist

    Roster is currently at 18 to be cut to 15, Doubt he’ll make it. Big slow white guys are our favourites though.

  • ESPN Insider Pirate

    Rabble-
    I didn’t just copy/paste, I also formatted that shit. And exactly whose time did I waste?

    Here’s an opinion of my own: Hollinger has some legit insight; of all the 100+ ESPN NBA writers/analysts/bloggers he is easily top 3, if not #1. His opinion is worth sharing. In contrast, Rabble’s opinion doesn’t matter, because Rabble is a cockmuncher

  • Rabble

    I love touching little boys. I also like to molest helpless animals…
    I LOVE PUTTING STARFISH ON MY CHOCOLATE STARFISH (and letting one rip.)

  • ESPN Insider Pirate

    Pack your bags, Josh Smith
    Indiana, Toronto among good trade fits for Atlanta’s enigmatic power forward

    It took Danny Ferry exactly seven days in his new role as the Atlanta Hawks’ president of basketball operations and general manager to completely change the face of the franchise.

    His ability to swiftly orchestrate separate deals to part with high-priced veterans Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams signaled a commitment to rebuilding and shed as much as $77 million still owed to the two veterans beyond next season.

    Fast-forward two-and-a-half months to today, and Ferry’s rebuilt roster has only a handful of contracts that go beyond the 2012-13 season:
    • Al Horford: Signed through 2015-16.
    • Lou Williams: Signed through 2013-14.
    • John Jenkins: 2012 first-round pick.
    • Mike Scott: 2012 second-round pick.
    • Jeff Teague: Due to become a restricted free agent at season’s end, barring an extension.

    Notice one big name we didn’t mention: Josh Smith.

    The tantalizingly talented, yet often frustrating, forward is among the many Hawks entering the final year of their deals, and he represents arguably the biggest challenge for Ferry to date: what to do with Smith.

    If handled correctly, this could be the next step toward eventually turning the Hawks into a perennial playoff contender. Mishandled, and this could undo everything good that came out of the trades of Johnson and Williams.

    So the question is, what’s the smarter move for Ferry and the Hawks?

    a) Negotiate an extension that will keep Smith in Atlanta for the long term.
    b) Peddle him to a contender seeking one final piece for a shot at the title.

    Let’s delve into that.

    Smith, 26, is due $13.2 million this season and is coming off a season in which he established personal highs in both points (18.8) and rebounds (9.6). Even though these numbers coincided with Horford being limited to 11 regular-season games due to a shoulder injury, naturally inflating Smith’s numbers, Ferry made it clear in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution over the summer that he likes what Smith has to offer.

    “He’s a really good player,” Ferry told the newspaper. “I love his ability to pass the ball. I love his ability to make game-changing plays defensively. I love his competitiveness. If I was out there playing, I would want Josh on my team.”

    Last season, Smith’s 21.16 PER ranked him No. 8 among all power forwards who played a minimum of 40 games and averaged at least 30 minutes, putting him right ahead of Pau Gasol, Kevin Garnett, David Lee and Chris Bosh.

    According to stat projections by Kevin Pelton and Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus, Smith is expected to average 17.3 points and 9.1 rebounds in 2012-13. Yes, those numbers would be down from what Smith did last season, but they’d still represent Smith’s second-best season in terms of both points and rebounds.

    Using Synergy Sports Technology to look deeper at the stats, it becomes clearer that Smith’s biggest strength at this stage in his career actually is defense. He has fared particularly well when defending the spot-up and post-up, as you can see below:

    Smith: Defending the Spot Up
    Year – Pct. of Time – Points Per Play – #NBArank – Rating

    2012 — 23.2 ————– 0.905 —————- 182 ————- Good
    2011 — 25 —————– 0.847 —————- 72 ————– Excellent

    Two things stand out, here. While these numbers are good, they are hardly eye-popping (as you can see by the NBA rank). And still, they ranked better than anything Smith did offensively, according to Synergy.

    Smith: Defending the Post Up
    Year – Pct. of Time – Points Per Play – #NBArank – Rating

    2012 — 22.9 ————- 0.753 —————– 119 ———– Very Good
    2011 — 20 —————- 0.819 —————– 147 ———— Good

    One of the few exceptions is in cuts to the basket, where he’s routinely excelled; 8.9 percent of Smith’s offense came via that route last season, and his 1.355 PPP in those situations ranked No. 55 in the NBA. The year before, his 1.426 PPP in cuts to the basket ranked No. 44 in the league.

    Are there flaws to Smith? Sure.

    His reluctance to go inside the paint and preference to settle for the “long two” — long regarded as the worst shot to take in any level of basketball — is often vexing, particularly for a 6-foot-9, 225-pound athlete like Smith who has consistently been a reliable scorer closer to the basket.

    As Kirk Goldsberry of CourtVisionAnalytics.com pointed out earlier this month, 16.3 percent of Smith’s field goal attempts came via the “long two” a season ago — the highest percentage in the league. More maddening is that he wasn’t even a league average shooter from that range.

    Considering all this, as well as the estimated $50-60 million that it’d cost to keep him in Atlanta beyond 2012-13 and the strained relations he’s often had with the franchise over the years, one has to believe that Ferry might have to consider moving him for the right package.

    Finding a trade partner is the tricky part.

    Trade ideas
    Any team with an interest in Smith would likely have to be a contender tradable assets with a willingness to gamble that it could then convince him to ink a long-term deal.

    The other difficult aspect to this is that the rebuilding Hawks would need a promising piece in return (ideally a small forward or power forward) whom they could build around, and possibly a first-round pick or two. How many contending teams are willing to part with something like that? Not many.

    That being said, here is one potential fit:

    Indiana Pacers: Smith for David West, Paul George

    The Pacers need another piece to compete with the Miamis and Brooklyns of the East, and Smith could be a younger, more athletic alternative to David West alongside Roy Hibbert in the frontcourt. West, like Smith, is due to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, and in order to make the deal work, the Pacers would have to be willing to unload one of their younger, up-and-coming talents like Paul George.

    From the Hawks’ perspective, this would essentially be a move to get George. Indiana would be getting a player in Smith who may seem like an odd fit in Frank Vogel’s slow-it-down offensive system, but it could work, and here’s why: The Pacers have taken considerably less 3-pointers and shot more efficiently since Vogel took over, and Smith’s career could take off if he’s able to buy in.

  • dwain

    no way we let PG go for Smith…let em have Lance…and pirate i like being able to read this stuff

  • Fly

    Jermaine, I apologize. You were right all along. The people on this site do suck. I’m out.

  • Jack

    trading west and PG for smith is a retarded idea

  • Hoosier

    Agree. Trading PG for anyone, at this point, would be stupid. He is the best all-around player on the Pacers right now and hasn’t come close to reaching his potential. Hell, i’m not sure trading West strait up for J.Smith is good idea. West fits well in the vet leadership role. I think the Pacers need that more than any upside Smith could bring.

  • Hoosier

    A big question for the Pacers is: How well will DJ Augustin and Gerald Green perform together in there new roles, coming off the bench? If those two guys can click, look out. The Bench could be much improved. Hopefully, the second unit will bring a lot more Attack! and a lot less maintain, which killed us in the playoffs last year.

  • adam

    I love how passionate pacer fans are on this site, but rather than trash this site comment section why not bring the discussions elsewhere while waiting for new content? I know I’ve brought this up before but what about googe+? Anyone actively on there? That’s been my goto site as of late to share/discuss sports. Much cleaner than facebook, and a lot more efficient than a unrelated thread.

    I know the Pacers have a page & a fanpage that gets little to no use. I’m sure we can get a nice pacer community on there. Any takers?

  • http://www.qazynga.com Grieg

    Andrew Bynum over Roy Hibert, first Bynum is the second best center in the NBA no question about it, seems like Roy doesn’t like rebounding the ball for his size and wingspan, he has to work on his foot work and post up game, need to improve on his defense, i was actually surprised that Roy didn’t play Olympics, because he deserved it. in my book Roy is the 3rd bet big man in NBA now and he will get better.

    and yes, I’m a Laker!!!

  • Hoosier

    I think Hibs wasn’t Olympic eligible, for the U.S., because he played for Jamaica in other qualifiers. I could be wrong about that. But, he did average a double-double in the playoffs. That’s solid rebounding, like it or not!

  • Jack

    hibbert is now better than bynum, which isn’t saying much, because andrew bynum sucks.

  • Rabble

    I love this Pacers team. They have one of the best starting 5′s in the league. Hopefully, when the season starts, fans will find better things to argue about than stats and off-season moves. Course, i got the Pacers with 58 wins. My brother has them winning 56. Yep, It’s On!

  • Rabble

    Fight! Fight! Fight! I prefer Abalone to Starfish any day of the week! Go Pacers!