D.J. Augustin to C.J. Watson: A Junior Upgrade

cj watson

The Indiana Pacers have spent this offseason looking to upgrade their bench. They started off their reconstruction by replacing a junior with a junior: C.J. (Charles Junior) Watson will now take on the role of George Hill’s understudy while D.J. (Darryl Junior) Augustin will try to find a job somewhere in this transitioning NBA landscape.

The Pacers signed Watson to a one-year deal slightly above the $1.1 million veteran minimum, which is a better value signing than D.J. Augustin’s one-year, $3.5 million deal from last summer.

Going beyond the salary aspect of this deal, C.J. Watson is a considerable upgrade over Augustin.

In his one year in Indiana, Augustin performed poorly even though he was advertised as a solid ballhandler and distributor. Augustin struggled to find his role in the Pacers’ offense. His outside shot failed him, he failed to defend, and generally he failed at everything except for free throw shooting. While he did have some positive moments during the playoffs as a spot-up shooter in a few games, he was a big failure overall and ended up hurting the Pacers more than helping.

Watson isn’t a great playmaker, and that hurts the Pacers, as they have no elite/proven playmakers on the roster at the guard position. Watson can play a lead ballhandler, but Indiana probably should play him at that position in specific spots.

When Watson played in Brooklyn he was primarily used as a secondary ballhandler. The primary 5-man line up that involved Watson the most, featured Watson and Deron Williams in the backcourt according to 82games. When Watson played in Chicago, he was a primary ballhandler giving Derrick Rose a rest. Watson rarely played together with Rose and was forced to be a lead ballhandler and distributor.

Watson is decent in that role, but he experienced a generally more efficient season in Brooklyn, where his role was mapped out as a spot-up shooter. Watson became a reliable outside threat last season shooting 41% from behind the arc. Last season, 147 of Watson’s 229 3-point attempts were spot-up attempts (64%) according to Synergy sports.

This is intriguing because of the Pacers situation concerning Danny Granger and Lance Stephenson. One of those two players is going to start, and many expect Granger to regain his starting role if he’s fully recovered from his knee ailments that held him out of the lineup for the majority of the season.

If Stephenson ends up in a sixth man role, he could be a key to the success of Watson and the other bench compadres. Stephenson is creative, a little crazy, but he loves to push the ball and that can benefit Watson, Chris Copeland, and other teammates with his ability to get into the teeth of the defense and find open shooters or cutters in transition. Obviously, Stephenson has to be able to reign himself in a little bit to make this into a possibly spectacular situation.

Last year’s Pacers bench was boring, lacking creativity, and a lack in talent was a big part of that. The additions of shooters, and the addition of Stephenson to the reserves could alter the Pacers bench from a weakness to a strength.

Watson’s not going to wow fans, but he will do a solid job on both ends of the court. He’s a complete upgrade over D.J. Augustin, but one has to wonder if the Pacers could have found a guard with the ability to penetrate and create, and who could provide stability at the defensive end. The truth is that a lot of that has to do with the price tag. Watson’s a solid, but more importantly a cheaper alternative as a point guard and gets the job done.

Tags: Free Agency

  • llcoolray3000

    I’d love to see Granger leading the second unit. That’s what the second unit needs – leadership and experience. The reduced minutes would help with Granger recovering and staying healthy. It would also provide an option in the playoffs to change things up by having him start as needed to adjust to an opponent or force the opponent to adjust.

    • poot

      just looking at style of play,
      the starters are slow tempo defensive
      and the bench is up tempo with ability to spread the offense

      it seems DG, who is getting up there in years and is coming off a pretty big surgery, might be better equipped to focus on defense with the slower starters. and that Lance might be better fitted pushing the ball and hitting open shooters with the bench.

      i see DG slowing down the bench and being kind of redundant to what Cope can do on offense. I see Lance much like last year, a solid starter, but not as good a fit as someone with a more reliable outside shot and a little more size. Lance was still able to push the ball well as a starter, but it seemed to the detriment of Hibbert/West. when he wasn’t pushing the ball, he seemed to have a negative impact on offense.

      seems like their style of plays dictate that DG’s weaknesses can be better hidden and his strengths more useful when surrounded by starters. and Lance can be more free to push the ball and play loose with the bench, who will run with him freely.

      but i do like the idea of experience with the bench units. i think that will come with the staggered rotations (never a 5-for-5 swap with Vogel)

      • Derek Cooper

        Yep. Grangers 3pt threat gives spacing to roy+davids post game. Even if grangers minutes are limited I think he fits with the starters..

        • knockin boots

          I too am fine with limiting Danny’s minutes!
          But he is a starter. He fits with the starters, he has experience playing with the starters, and he DESERVES to be a starter. This guy has been the perfect role model and such a great guy, not to mention the best player on the team for so many years and every year at least an AllStar candidate.
          ONE injury. That’s it.
          Unless he comes back looking like Paul Pierce, he should start. Especially considering Pierce still starts

        • llcoolray3000

          Y’all still wanting Granger to start?

  • Realist

    “Watson isn’t a great playmaker, and that hurts the Pacers, as they have no elite/proven playmakers on the roster at the guard position.”

    >> I don’t mind this signing for that reason alone. We’ve well established that Indiana is where assists come to die. [See Collison, Augustin, Ford, Price etc]

    Looks like management aren’t gonna bother trying to dress up someone as a “pure point guard” with our system. Which is fine. Just go with guys who can score, I guess (CJ, Copes). Play inside-out with the starters, and get whatever shots – perimeter (and it certainly looks that way) or otherwise we can from the bench.

    and +1 for Granger off the bench, but I’m not too fussed either way.

  • Jack Wright

    Pretty nice article but I gotta disagree with a couple things:

    1. Augustin’s “outside shot failed him.”

    Without looking up the exact stats, I’d wager that Augustin had the best 3 pt percentage on the team. He actually was fairly lights out at times, including in some playoff games. I thought he played his best basketball of the season during the playoffs, in fact.

    I agree, Watson is probably an upgrade, but we’ll see if it’s a “considerable” one or not. To me, Augustin’s two biggest problems were his distributing and his inability to finish at the rim (although he improved on the latter in the playoffs). For most of the season though, when Augustin drove into the lane it lead to a turnover or a missed shot. If Augustin could improve in those two areas, I think he could eventually be a very nice backup point guard option in the NBA.

    2. The Pacers “have no elite/proven playmakers on the roster at the guard position.”

    If Lance Stephenson isn’t a playmaker, I don’t know who is.

    • Realist

      Agreed. DJ’s shot from 3 was actually alright at about 350 or so, I think. He won us Game 1 in New York, so for that alone he gets a pass, imo.

    • djmcba

      I think he is (fairly) stating that lance isn’t proven nor consistent yet though I think we are all hoping that is his next step this year.

      I like what we are doing with the bench – getting guys who can knock down treys and as a benefit can slot in with the starters due to their ability to knock down shots.

      Also, agree it is a little harsh on dj to call him a complete failure but when it comes down to it, he is too small to play in big time nba playoff games. You have to have great skill or tenacity to be that tiny and not be a liability when it comes playoff time but he simply got abused.

      Nothing flashy with the offseason, but I like the moves so far.

    • Ian

      He was 4th on the team in 3-pt shooting, 3rd of you don’t include Orlando Johnson. And remember unlike Paul George and George Hill, pretty much every 3 he took was wide-open.

      Problem is DJ is neither big, nor particularly quick. And neither of those things will ever improve. He’s a liability on defense, he can’t make entry passes over larger guards, and he’s one of the league-worst finishers at the rim.

      CJ is nothing special but he’s cheap and he’s a big PG which fits the Pacers scheme better of having players who can guard multiple positions.

      In general I’m quite excited about the bench. Ideally I’d like to see us add another banger. Right now we only have one proven big man off the bench who can provide interior defense and rebounding in Mahinmi. Losing both Hans and Pendy leaves us desperately thin there. Elton Brand on vet minimum would be ideal there but I don’t know if he’ll accept that little. Obviously it would be great to have Plumlee step up but honestly a playoff team should not be counting on key minutes from a guy who spent most of last season in the D-league.

  • Derek Cooper

    Bench looking intriguing :) team defense seems to be signifigantly upgraded_augustine maybe weakest link last yr +watson 6’2”+suposed to be good on D. +solomon hill+granger better wing defenders than OJ(tho I hope he’s improoved a bit+plays). And plumlees showing up with some shotblocking+rim protection in summer league with 6 blocks in one game +4 in another I read_looking like plumlee+mahini both can play powerforward+center_as a team that’s alotta rim protection. But as long as grangers healthy copeland seems pointless to me cuz as a stretch 4 grangers a better rebounder defender+passer from what I’ve read. I’ve read some that say copelands a weak defender other say average_think he got like 2 boards per 16 mins a game so I feel iffy about copeland despite his points per minutes production +efficientcy offensively. I was missing pendergraph_he signed with the spurs_but plumlee might be stepping up_he had like 16pts 15rbs 4blk in a summer league game the other day :)____anyway D was awsome last yr scary it may be a lot better this yr

    • Jack Wright

      Copeland is automatic from 3 though

      • Derek Cooper

        Yea that’s so efficient_42% on 3s _so if he takes 10 and hits 4 that’s 12pts on 10shots_and its supposed to open driving lanes +room for the post guys to operate cuz of the D sticking so close to him….actually we got quite a few that can hit the 3_ copeland_granger_oj_solomon hill_cj watson(that’s 5 additional shooters_tho oj got to play a bit..) and george hill_ and lance? He was hot from 3 half the season+dropped off_and paul? He was ok last yr. +better 2 yrs ago___so all that 3pt spacing potential hopefully has a big impact on our offence. Seems like it could.

    • poot

      the fact that Spurs signed Pendy should infuriate Pacers fans. we had him as a restricted FA. we need another backup big. and the most clever organization in the NBA takes him. it’s a sign you blew it!

      weakest links last year were DJ/Tyler. the combo of the two was the worst. (and Green but i think his expectations will be greatly lowered this year.) not playing them makes the Pacers better by default

      • Derek Cooper

        one of the things I was most looking forward to this yr was going to be seeing pendy getting minutes__but we got plums on the cheap rookie contract so if they think he’s grown into a contributer maybe its a smarter use of limited $.
        __pendy seemed like such a perfect compiiment player_showed some passing ability a few games_hit shots if the D left him open-even some 3s_and can finish strong inside_a few athletic rebound putbacks a game would be so efficient and impactful_and good D+good mobility…actually if west had left I would’ve loved to have seen pendy on a cheap deal as our starter at pf- with roy+pauls offensive improovements+ g.hill + grangers scoring abilities pendy could’ve just went for putbacks+ knocking down open shots. Then we could’ve used a lot more $ on the bench. But I’m glad west is here.

  • poot

    as many have stated on here, i feel better about this years bench (if not only for losing DJ, letting Tyler get overpaid to be a bench player elsewhere, and lower expectations of Gerald) especially with how solid Solo looked in summer league and CJs desire to be a Pacer above all else

    but not having that extra banger down low will hurt. Granger/Solo are too small to bang down low, Mahinmi is actually just as small as Granger. Plum is still not ready. the knock on Copeland is that he can’t play D and is too small to guard a 4. Here is what he plans to do about that:

    [Copeland] has plans to work with former Detroit Pistons forward Ben Wallace.
    And what’s the goal?
    “To get stronger,” Copeland said. “We all know what type of guy Ben was. I think I can learn a lot from him on the defensive end. Just getting stronger and following a lot of his routines in the weight room, that’s something I’m going to mimic throughout the summer and hopefully it will pay off next year.”

    • knockin boots

      LOL poot. I love your comments. You are a true rabid fan who is way too into the Pacers. Man imagine if you put some of that passion into your own life, you could rule the world.

      How about a West coast breakdown? I saw a Lakers board today where people were posting their West rankings, and most had Lakers 4-6.
      WOW. they know Kobe’s hurt right???

      I see it like this:
      1.Clippers -replaced Butler/Bledsoe with Redick/Dudley/Collison/Doc
      2.Warriors -young team adds experience AND Iggy
      3.Rockets -young team adds experience AND DH
      4.Thunder -Westbrook coming off first major injury, weaker bench
      5.Spurs -sounds like a broken record, but theyre getting older
      6.Grizzlies -retained core, but other teams have improved more.
      7.Blazers -young team adds experince, Lopez, Robinson, lots of shooters
      8.TWolves -get K.Love back, add Martin, Brewer, some rooks
      Nuggets -replaced Iggy with Randy Foye (good luck Shaw!)
      Lakers -DH/Kobe/MWP for Kaman/Nick Young/Wes Johnson
      Pelicans -got Evans/Holiday. lost a ton of size. Gordon could be healthy
      Mavs -only “bigs” are Dalmbert/Dirk. no depth (except 20 point guards)
      Jazz -TANK CITY
      Kings -TANK CITY
      Suns -TANK CITY

      • Jack Wright

        Clips and Thunder are a lock at 1 and 2. could be thunder 1, clips 2 though

  • poot

    FUCK COLIN COWARD

    yesterday Paul George was interviewed on the Colin Coward show

    if you are unfamiliar with Coward, he is an ESPN drone who does the “pompous stubborn buffoon” act (similar to Tom of Bob&Tom, but even more self-assured despite being an even more pathetic person)

    instead of asking PG about what it was like playing 7 games in the ECF against LeBron, what he’s working on this summer, what he thinks the Pacers can do next season, etc.
    Coward jumps right in with the “garbage media fodder.” He states that PG is a free agent next summer, than the Lakers will have enough cap space to sign him, and says “so being from LA, you’re going to sign with the Lakers right?”

    what a position to put George in. PG navigated through the question well, honestly discussing his admiration of Kobe and how his family still lives in the area, but always coming back to his love of being part of this Pacer team. Coward of course never lets anything go or lets the person he is interviewing sound more intelligent and above the lowbrow entertainment than him, so he keeps prodding George. I think PG handled it well all things considered, but damn, why would he even agree to talk to him? Coward is a known heat jocker, he has many times referred to the team they have as the greatest of all time. clearly he is worried about the Pacers and trying to stir things up in their locker room. good luck Coward, you will need it!

    • Jack Wright

      I fucking hate Colin Cowherd with all my heart. He’s a complete idiot. He’s always going off and sounding like an arrogant dipshit about the most meaningless sports topics. And he always backs his arguments up with terrible comparisons. He’ll compare something that Sean Hannity does to something going on in sports, for instance. He’s absolutely pathetic at backing up his own points. The only one who might be worse than Cowherd is Mike Greenberg.

      I’m going to be worried about PG leaving, though. That better not happen. I want him to be a Pacer for life!

      • poot

        me too! i met PG when he was a high school senior, my aunt was his “favorite teacher” he told me.

        i always felt he was a genuinely good guy. unlike some of the other stars like lebron (never seemed sincere about anything even as a cav) or kobe (everything he says is expertly calculated.) I think as long as they can keep the core (Hib/West/Lance/Hill) together, PG will be happy to continue playing there. already made a great start locking up West for 3 years. i just hope that the Pacers front office does not make some shrewd financial decisions (letting Lance go, trading Hibbert or Hill, etc.) as long as those guys are capable, i cant see him leaving.

        and ditto on Coward.

      • knockin boots

        LARRY LEGEND just followed up on this
        said PG is going nowhere
        and should PG decide to “test the market”
        Pacers will match any offer without thinking twice
        but he doesnt think PG will sign any other offer sheet.

        SO EAT A DICK COWTURD

  • poot

    LOL @ TORONO

    what are the Raptors thinking??? Didnt Masi Urji just win Exec of the Year?
    is he trying to pull the first ever “EOY to worst executive in the NBA the following season” feat? If so he is off to a great start by picking up the two weakest links of the Pacers, players that no one else wants.

    First Tyler, now DJ. i have no need to explain this to Pacers fans, but when we point to our “bench issues” from last season, it starts with these two.

    one would think… “maybe he is trying to make the team bad so they can tank and land Canada native Wiggins.”
    maybe.
    except for one problem. this lineup is too good to tank. as they stand the Raptors are the 6th-9th best team in the East. This will be good for a draft pick somewhere in the 12-18 range. there is no way this team is worse than the magic, bobcats, sixers or celtics. hard to see them being worse than the bucks. probably better than the hawks. will be fighting with pistons, cavs and wiz.
    so… “maybe they are developing young guys to be players in free agency next year”
    maybe.
    except this doesnt work either. Amir Johnson is younger than Tyler, and has much more potential based on their career trajectories thus far, so why bring in Tyler, who wants to start? DJ won’t help much either. Not accepting the Pistons bid of expiring contracts for Gay is the cherry on top. surefire sign, this is not a rebuild year for Toronto. plus, just to be clear, the guys they have under contract for next season already exceed the salary cap, and that lineup is as follows:
    Jonas
    Tyler / Novak
    Gay / Fields
    DeRozan / Ross
    Agustin
    +2014 mid 1st round pick.
    Free agents, flock to Canada! play with Tyler, DJ and a couple of ball hogs. watch the stifling of promising young big man Jonas V as Gay, DeRozan and Tyler refuse to ever give up the ball.
    it’s not just bringing the worst of the Pacers bench to Toronto. they also traded Bargnani for Novak. i like Novak, but this is seriously a horrible trade. AB has a large salary due next season, but Toronto is over the cap with or without him, so why not try to get more for your former #1 pick? a young player? a pick or two? an expiring contract? Steve Novak. (i won’t even reference Toronto’s OT win against Indiana last season, when Bargnani completely got in Hibbert’s head, D’d him up to perfection, and rendered him completely useless on both ends of the floor. not trying to oversell AB, but he has a lot more talent left in him than Toronto gave him away for.)
    sooooo what is left to think? “Toronto thinks this lineup can compete for a championship.”
    maybe.
    maybe.
    ok, no chance.

    stupified again.

    • Realist

      I don’t think that lineup is too good to tank. They’ll be lottery no probs.

      1) Indiana
      2) Miami
      3) Chicago
      4) Brooklyn
      5) New York

      That top 5 looks just about set (in some order). Then in some order, maybe:

      6) Cleveland
      7) Atlanta
      8) Washington

      Everyone else will be terrible, deliberately. as they should be. Atlanta and Washington should try to be terrible too, but unfortunately, it’s like reverse musical chairs, and some teams are gonna be unlucky and make the playoffs – lol

      I think you overestimate how not-bad that Craptors team is, poot.

      [and I do expect Indy to finish with the 1-seed (even with my Realist cap on), but that may be another story for another thread]

      • Realist

        And yeah, I have no idea re the 6-8 seeds. You could make cases for Philly and Milwaukee I guess. But Irving, Horford, Wall…. seem like the best players left in the East* after the top 5 seeds.

        *edit: forgot Rondo, but his team is obv tanksville.

        • poot

          yeah its hard to say. have to agree with you 100% on the top 5.
          so in reverse order of how bad they were last year that leaves: ORL, CHA, CLE, WAS, DET, TOR, PHI, MIL, BOS, ATL

          we agree BOS is tanking, and it is hard to imagine that ORL is not tanking either (whether on purpose or not.)
          i think PHI is a sure tank- traded away best player (holiday), let free agent walk that they traded for previous best player (bynum/iggy), they have no coach, etc…
          so that leaves: CHA, CLE, WAS, DET, TOR, MIL, ATL
          you could argue that each team “tried” to improve this summer. CHA, CLE, WAS, DET for sure did. TOR added pieces without losing much. i think MIL got worse, even if they re-sign BJ, but they were 8 seed last year at least. and i also think ATL got worse. they lost their entire bench, two frontcourt starters, all for Milsap and Brand. they got a nice looking rookie and some cap space, but it smells like a tank to me.
          so even though CHA tried to improve, they will still stink. this is not up for debate, that is not even a fringe playoff team.
          i see ATL being at a similar level.
          and i think MIL is not far behind. an 8 seed that drops dalembert for zaza (wash) ellis for mayo (downgrade) dunleavy for delfino (downgrade) redick/mbahmoute/gooden for ridnour (downgrade) and possibly bjennings for nothing (upgrade… lol)

          soooooo my rant goes to say it looks like this:
          CONTENDERS
          Pacers, Heat, Bulls
          PRETENDERS
          Nets, Knicks
          PLAYOFF HOPEFULS
          Cavs, Wizards, Pistons (Raptors)
          SHOULD HAVE TRIED TO TANK HARDER…
          (Raptors) Bucks, Hawks, Bobcats
          TANK CITY
          Celtics, Magic, Sixers

          i’d say put the “Craptors” at the low end of 6-9
          or at the high end of 10-12

          i might just be overrating them based on how well they played against Indiana last season, taking two games (and the other two were close)

          and they closed out the season well. Jonas has looked amazing in the summer league, Amir improves every season, and Gay/Lowry are good players despite their selfishness. i think they have more talent than any of the lower rung team (except maybe Cavs or Wiz) and are well coached.

          but if their ceiling is #6 seed, i dont see them being able to steal more than 1 game against Indy, Miami or Chicago.

  • poot

    BACKUP PF PLEASE???

    so earlier i had set my sights on Carl Landry. He seemed like a perfect fit for the Pacers: tough, rebounder, decent shot, willing to bang, Midwest guy, wants to play for a winner….
    this failed when the kings offered him $7M/yr for 4 years. no thanks!

    then i had to readjust my sights. i put them on Jason Maxiell. he’s a little undersized in height, but makes up for it in bulk and surprising athleticism. again, a nice fit for what the Pacers need at backup PF. more limited than Landry, but perhaps a better fit….
    this failed when the Magic offered him $5M/2yr contract, with team option on the 2nd year. what??! Pacers could also have offered this easily with their mid-level, and you’d think he’d rather play for a good team. but i guess he could start down there.

    so now it’s time for another adjustment. who is left (interested teams)
    Blair (Spurs, Wizards)
    Jamison (Clippers, Bobcats)
    Odom (Clippers, Lakers)
    Martin (Knicks)
    Ty Thomas (…)
    Ivan Johnson (Hawks)
    Tolliver (Twolves, Hawks, Knicks)
    Warrick (…)

    uhhhh… at this point it’s getting to be guys who might make the team better by not being on it.

    I think Pacers should pass on the retiree candidates (Jamison, Odom, Martin) and the not-very-powerful power forwards (Tolliver, Warrick)

    So that leaves Blair, Tyrus Thomas and Ivan Johnson.
    I’d love any of these guys on the team, but they may be either a) overpriced b) a head case problem c) both.

    is the Pacers plan just to roll into the season without a backup PF?
    and see how well DG/Cope do at playing “Stretch-4″?
    and see if Plum has any pro-level talent to offer?

    and then when they realize, that no, DG/Cope are not 4s
    and that no, Plum belongs in the Dleague

    then at that point they try to pick up a mid-season waiver? or make a trade?

    what in the heck is going to happen?????
    stand pat?
    try to acquire a PF later?
    sign Blair, Thomas or Johnson?
    sign someone worse?

    • poot

      ONE MORE

      now Drew Gooden is a free agent. i do not like Gooden, he has a horrible personality and a lousy work ethic. for some reason, last year he fancied himself a jump shooter and proved he stinks.

      however, he is an upgrade to Tyler in almost every way (Tyler is superior at getting to the line, and is therefore a slightly better scorer overall)
      but Gooden is a better shooter, defender, rebounder and is better, obviously, at passing the ball out of the post. he’s also a little taller and has done much much more in the playoffs than Tyler. i get some of this come with playing next to LeBron, but i still think he is the best PF out there.

      and he could be had real cheap. he’s getting paid $13M the next two seasons regardless, so the Pacers could sign him for peanuts. i think his personality issues would be kept in check playing behind DWest. his rebounding would make us quickly forget Tyler. his defense would be very welcome for a team without much in the post beyond their starters.

      what do you think Pacer people?? are you feeling Gooden?

  • Jack Wright

    Top four seeds in the playoffs next year:

    1. Pacers
    2. Nets
    3. Heat
    4. Bulls

    1. Clips
    2. Thunder
    3. Warriors
    4. Rockets

    • poot

      i think that is a reach on the Nyets.
      did you see Pierce/KG last season? they looked awful. the way they played in the playoffs was a disgrace. I can’t imagine them having anything to offer except leadership.
      and everyone is talking about their “so so deep bench” which is a huge joke. i actually think the Pacers have a better bench.
      AK47 is a big name, but his prime was in 2004. he didn’t do much last season, don’t expect this to be a breakout year for him either. he’ll have to do a lot of heavy lifting while resting Pierce, more than he is probably still capable of
      Blatche/Livingston were two guys who were basically out of the league before Nets took a chance on them (like Gerald Green.) Like Green, they actually suck.
      Terry is washed up. his days are done.
      Reggie Evans, decent sub. considering he will have to play most minutes at PF while KG is injured/resting, he makes for an awful starter.
      They got enough talent to win 50. maybe.

      1. Pacers
      2. Bulls
      3. Heat (old and did not improve at all, due for an injury)
      4. Nets

      1. Clippers
      2. Warriors
      3. Thunder
      4. Grizzlies

      • Realist

        I don’t get why everyone is losing their minds over the Nets either. I think they’ll be okay but not amazing.

        Also, nice to see we all have a good impartial view that Indy will finish top. Hehe.

        But seriously, we stuffed around the first quarter of last season, trying to figure out our starting five for one thing after losing DG at the last minute. We tried Gerald Green (lol) and Sam Young (he tries, but lol) before we stumbled upon young Lancelot. Ding. I think we were 10-11 before we really got going. This season, no such messing around, I trust. And if we are anywhere near our defense and rebounding (1/30 and 1/30 in the league last year), say top 5 in both again, we should just go *bang* and win 60+, I reckon.

        Come on, ONE TIME.

        Re the West, I still think OKC are the best team and obv have the best player. But I agree the Clips are looking scary. I wasn’t worried about them last year. Now they turned Caron Butler’s corpse into Dudley and Redick and have DC backing up Paul. Impressive.

        • poot

          i agree. impressive. i am thinking more about their lack of frontcourt depth. they basically only have Jordan/Griffin/Hollins. Hollins is a joke, and Jordan is a foul magnet. Griffin can’t play center, and is somewhat prone to injury given his reckless playing style. i think 1-7 they have the best lineup in the league on paper. but that frontcourt may be problematic in practice…

          to me the West is super close between the 1-12 seeds. little seperation. whereas east has obvious tiers.

          also i think the Pacers were a lot better than a 49 win team last season, and i dont think this years Nyets could beat last years Pacers (making me think Nyets cant do much better than 50 wins, if that.)
          Pacers got off to that dreadful start, and finished the season lazy (or just sloppy trying to work in Green/Young/Pendy/Ben more). in the middle they were trying to work DG back into the lineup.

          i think adding DG, knowing Green’s limitations, having Hibbert healthy from the start, having DWest a year further removed from his surgery, Hill an additional year running the show, a “new” Lance, and adding shooters to the bench make the Pacers much much more dangerous. This is assuming that PG does not improve at all and is the same player he was last year. so far his career trajectory does not suggest that at all.

          i think the Bulls are great, but they have weaknesses: health is the main one. they seem to be magnets for injuries and have many players recovering. Boozer is the other weakness. Butler has come up huge with his improvement, otherwise their bench would be an issue too. it all depends on how Rose comes back. if he is AP, they should be the #1 seed. if he is human, i think they are still a 3 seed.

          and the Heat, maybe i am bias because i hate them, but they are carting back the same old team. who’d they add? another 2nd round rookie that they will never play? everyone except the Big3 are really old, and other than LeBron, age/mileage has taken an obvious toll on them too. plus teams have a formula to beat them now, and heat did nothing to address that. Haslem/Battier/Anthony are going to have even more trouble going forward with battling bigs than they did before. i think the Pacers will outperform them this year, and if Rose is 100%, the Bulls will too.

  • Realist

    Dear 8 points 9 seconds,

    We know you may not like to update the site as much as other Pacer blogs and news sites during down time, but clearly you have a reader base that isn’t going anywhere despite this. Can we please get a forum system to entertain ourselves with so we don’t have to have every discussion as a footnote to a CJ Watson article, for example.

    Regards, everyone.

  • poot

    OFFSEASON GRADES

    1) Replace DJ Agustin with CJ Watson
    Grade: B-
    This is a passing grade just by getting rid of DJ. CJ pushes the grade up higher himself, because he has a good attitude and can do a lot of the little things that Pacers need help with (dribble, defend point guards, shoot consistently.) However, there were other options available, for instance it is hard to believe Devin Harris took a 1yr deal for $1.6M to play with Dallas while we signed CJ for 2yr/$4.1M (our entire bi-annual exception.) Guess everyone wants to play in Dallas. Well, every point guard. Just for the value, it’s not an A. But if he produces, this could end up maybe as a B+.

    2) Replace Sam Young with Chris Copeland
    Grade: B+
    Again, losing Sam makes up a large chunk of this grade. I liked Sam, and his defense was welcome, and he did a pretty good job of allowing himself to be invisible on offense (as he should.) But replacing him with a guy you can’t ignore on offense? Brilliant. Huge drop-off defensively, but playing in the Pacers system will help Copeland. Plus he is a hard worker and has already committed to bulking up for next season. The knock on this deal? At 2yr/$6.1M? That it could be G.Green part II. Not a number that will hurt your cap, but dead weight if he doesn’t live up to it. Fortunately, Green was signed on potential (to be a good defender, keep shooting well) while Copeland is signed for what we know he can do; if he lives up to his potential as a rangy defender- bonus!

    3) Replace Ben Hansbrough & Pendergraph with Solomon Hill & Sloan
    Grade: C
    I would have loved to see Pendy stay with the Pacers. He has such a nice skill set for a guy his size, and with a little more attention could be a serious rotation player. (Arguably) the best front office in the NBA, the Spurs, recognized this and signed him for 2yr/$4.1 (bi-annual excecption.) Sloan will be this year’s Ben, but maybe a little better at D so he can give someone better for George/CJ to practice against. At 2yr/$1.8M, can’t really complain. Solomon Hill looks and acts great, I like him more every day. However he was #23 in the draft, in front of Summer League standout such as Goodwin, McCallum, Bullock, etc. Was he worth that high a pick?

    4) Replace Tyler Hansbrough with [........empty roster spot...........]
    Grade: INC / F-
    Losing Hansbrough is bittersweet. We drafted him, he was our starting PF, and he is the personification of “blue collar.” His ability to get to the free throw line was elite among bigs, and he could rebound with the best of them. But at the same time, he was a black hole on offense, his shot selection bordered on JR Smith/Nate Robinson levels, and despite his toughness, he actually doesn’t play that good of defense. His “me first” attitude that he started displaying more and more last year was a sign that this wouldn’t last. The fact that he has been in the league for 4 years and is still the exact same (no development) player as he was at UNC was the clincher.
    With all that said, the Pacers now have a hole at the backup 4. Which of the Pacers 5 starters (assume: Hibbert/West/Granger/George/Hill) needs the most rest? Don’t need to be a Pacers fan to know it’s West by a landslide. And who backs him up? Small ball lineups with Granger shifting to the 4? Copeland playing the 4? Mahinmi sliding down? Plumlee??? As mentioned before, the loss of Pendy really hurts (great article: http://www.poundingtherock.com/2013/7/20/4540092/nba-free-agency-spurs-jeff-pendergraph) and now the loss of Tyler even stings. Good PFs like Landry signed for way more than the Pacers could afford. Bad PFs like Hansbrough left for more playing time. Decent PFs like Maxiell were missed because too much money was spent on West/Cope/CJ already. Only fodder remains available.
    What is the plan for the Pacers? mid-season trade? Hoping someone will give away a troubled young talented PF for Gerald Green? or that someone gets waived? it will be interesting to see, but the Pacers need their strong defensive identity, and without a backup PF that will be a challenge. If they stand pat, this move is an F-. If they pick up anyone decent, could be a C, maybe even B depending on how comes in and how cheap.

    5) Resigned David West
    Grade: A+
    and if you don’t like it, you can get the fug outta here.

    • poot

      6) Brought back Larry Legend
      Grade: A+
      enough said.

      7) The return of Granger
      Grade: A-
      He’s getting older, his injury may leave him a shell of his former self, and he “plays the same position as your best player.”
      Now with the usual talk out of the way, prior to last season DG played in 92% of games. That is the level you would argue a player is not injury prone. Example: Wade = 83%, Iguodala = 96%. Much closer to “iron man” than he is to “cripple.” Also his injury is not as serious as many other knee injuries, for instance Derrick Rose’s injury makes Granger look like he got a boo-boo. Recovery should be expected.
      Secondly, despite his injury, he managed to show up for 5 games last season. He looked like a shell of himself, he was obviously still injured, probably about 50% health or less, and yet he managed to make a presence. He even had one really nice game. [Vs LAC & @TOR, DG avg'd 10pts (53.3%) shooting 40% from 3, and 2.5 boards in 14 min per game--- this is 25.3/6.3/1.3 per36 at 53%/40% shooting. NICE] Imagine him at 90%. Very reasonable to expect him to return between 90-100%.
      And the biggest thing, last year the Pacers desperately needed another outside shooter. They desperately needed another rangy defender. and they needed some more veteran leadership when times got tough. Look at EVERY free agent available this summer. Some could shoot (Korver, Wright, Dunleavey, Redick, Martin) but not defend. Some could defend (Iggy, MWP, Clark, Brewer) but can’t shoot. And even fewer players who were once their team’s best player and an All Star. Pacers got the best of all of these by adding Granger to their lineup. The only question is does he come back 100% or is there something missing to his game, and how do the Pacers adjust for that?

      8) Replaced Brian Shaw with Nate McMillan
      Grade: C+
      It hurts to lose a guy like Shaw. Hurts bad. He will be sorely missed. But his ability to help bring up young players was probably maximized already, as now this lineup is starting to move into “veteran” territory. McMillan is a great coach for those types of players. He will make them work hard on the details and should help a lot of turnover issues as well as making poor defenders (Copeland comes to mind) into respectable defenders. Overall the Pacers replaced him with about the best guy possible, but the loss of a coach with such a close relationship to the players is always a blow. Still, Pacers pass.

      OVERALL GRADE: B*

      * 14 man roster, INC until a backup 4 is signed, depending on who, could increase to Grade: A

      The Pacers have done a great job this offseason.
      Their weakest spot, backup point, was improved in nearly every way. They added shooters they sorely need. they drafted reasonably well and are in a good financial position going forward. Their biggest wins: bringing back DWest and Larry Bird; getting back Granger and allowing Lance to lead the bench.
      Pacers however also lost a lot of size (Tyler/Pendy) and replaced it with not much size at all (Cope/DG). It makes you wonder if there will be a change in philosophy this season.

      note: the original posted link to the Pendy article had a “)” at the end. This is the correct link: http://www.poundingtherock.com/2013/7/20/4540092/nba-free-agency-spurs-jeff-pendergraph

  • poot

    IS TOM HABERSTROH RETARDED????

    I’m not just asking because he looks like he has down syndrome. Check out his latest “Eastern Conference Power Rankings”… here is the Digest:

    1) Heat – he writes for the Heat index and is a homer, duh.
    “returning to the status quo might not seem like enough, but when the status quo includes LeBron James, little else needs to be done.”

    2) Nets – he seems to think that PP/KG/Terry weren’t horrible at the end of last season, that AK47 was brought in via time machine from 2004, and that guys like Shaun Livingston are better than the “2nd/3rd stringer for the Bobcats” they peaked at in their careers
    “There’s a very real possibility that the Nets show their age and fail to make strides in 2013-14, but they’ve cooled those concerns with a monster bench.”

    3) Bulls – he hedges on this one, basically citing health
    ” Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich should be healthier”

    4) PACERS – immediately he starts off by acknowledging most people would rank them higher (not heat homers though) and then says they did not improve because “Granger was on the decline” (but 33yr old AK47 isnt!?) and PG/Hibbert are unlikely to play as well as they did in the playoffs
    “They’ll need it to continue the franchise’s upward trend”

    5) Knicks
    6) Hawks
    7) Wiz
    8) Cavs
    9) Bucks
    10) Pistons
    11) Raptors
    12) Magic
    13) Celtics
    14) Bobcats
    15) Sixers

    So back to my original question: Haberstroh clearly has the lights on, but is anyone home? To be nice, my guess would be he has a ghostwriter who he tells “Heat are the best, much better than the Pacers, you fill in the blanks.”

    OK I get him ranking Heat 1st. Until someone beats them in a series, they are the incumbent. Pacers played 10 games against them last year and went 5-5. No other team in the NBA won 5 games against the Heat last season. Only the Bulls, Spurs and Knicks won multiple games against the Heat. Shouldn’t that tell you something about who their competition is? but fine, Heat won 5 games against the team that beat them 5 times, so at worst they can be tied for 1st, and are reasonably legit to be given the #1 ranking. Although, his reasoning is bullshit. Wade is older and much more injured and on the decline than Granger. And Granger plays with a bunch of 23-27 year olds. Wade plays with guys only 28+, most 35+. OK…..

    The Nets ranking 2nd is most troubling. They were a bad team last season at basically full health. None of their “big 3″ missed more than 10 games. and their bench was pretty bad. Now they add a couple of corpses and suddenly they’re unbeatable? and what is this Monster bench? I love AK47′s game… in the early 2000s. Now he’s pretty average. To illustrate my point, Kirilenko started every game he played last season for a team that was missing Love, Roy, Budinger most of the season and Pek, Rubio for a good chunk as well. He was pretty much the star of that team. They were horrible, and he put up sad numbers for a team’s #1 option (12/6/3 on 50%/29%/75%.) Also Shaun Livingston is a huge huge huge downgrade to CJ Watson. Terry stinks. and the rest of the bench is made up of guys who struggled to make rosters year in and year out (Blatche, Evans, etc) and unproven rookie types (Taylor, Plumlee, Mirza, etc) OH yeah, and their coach is a good candidate for flop of the year

    Ranking the Bulls 3rd is a wimpy move, but I understand it. A 100% healthy lineup could make them the #1 team. But Thibs likes to play his guys hard, and given their histories, a 100% healthy season is less likely than ever. If Rose struggles or Noah/Deng miss extended time, they could be worse than the Knicks and Nets again. So 3rd is safe. Whatever. Wimp.

    So that leaves us with Pacers as the #4. Because Hibbert/PG stepped their games up for the playoffs and will now regress, as is to be expected of 23/26 year olds. and because the return of Granger offers nothing (I could write a whole seperate piece on this. For instance, Grangers last 4 full season PER/3pt%/DRtg: 19/38%/104, 18/39%/106, 20/36%/106, 22/40%/109. AK47′s last 4 PER/3pt%/DRtg: 18/29%/104, 17/37%/109, 18/29%/103, 17/27%/105. Difference: +1/+9%/0, +1/+1%/+3, +2/+7%/-3, +5/+13%/-4.) OH yeah, and the fact that the team addressed their shooting woes, their bench depth and that they were one of the youngest teams in the league last season and have allowed their players to develop one more year together. This is about as far from “won’t look appreciably different” as you can get in the East. Teams like the Wiz, Cavs and Pistons are expected to improve just based on their young guys developing and the likelihood of having more favorable health this season. I guess things like that don’t apply to teams that are already good?

    In conclusion:
    Tom Haberstroh is likely not retarded. He is just a typical Heat Troll given reigns to writing Heat-based articles, who has now finagled himself into writing articles on the entire East. Good luck Haberstroh, more articles like this and you’ll get the Chad Ford treatment (no more hypothetical trade articles for you Chad- go cover incoming rookies!)

    • poot

      Uptick vs Downtick (last season’s rankings)
      Heat – DOWNTICK. Older. Wade has been through a lot, and players with his type of game tend to burn out rather than fade away. Mike Miller (one of their younger players) not being around for the playoffs could have a huge effect. plus they added.. no one? James Ennis? Possbily Oden’s corpse? Did I mention Older?
      Knicks – DOWNTICK. Lost their 2 best outside shooters, lost their floor general, and got older. What do they have to show for it? Bargnani and Artest. Yikes.
      Pacers – UPTICK. addressed all their weaknesses. added their best player from 2006-12. developed young players. another year together for a team with already great chemistry. need i go on?
      Nets – UPTICK. KG/PP are better than Humphries/Wallace, yes, but not over 98+ games. their backup point is now a joke, who is going to handle the ball? livingston? terry? LOL. and a brand new first time coach. AK will help spell KG/PP, but not enough to win more than a first round series. this is a huge question mark team, at full health they should be better, but even then, not by much. This isn’t the Spurs where an expertly run system allows their best players to rest. Nets will have to play their old guys to compete, let’s see how much two of the top 5 active guys in career minutes (no joke, #1 and #5) hold up this season.
      Bulls – UPTICK. they got DRose and Butler is better. Still a weak bench considering the burn the starters get (mainly looking at you Nazr)
      Hawks – DOWNTICK. lost their coach, lost their “best” player, lost their starting center. but hey they got Milsap and Brand and Lou is back… oh wait, none of those guys are difference makers?
      Celtics – DOWNTICK. tanking by design
      Bucks – DOWNTICK. i’ve written before, they basically downgraded at every position.
      76ers – DOWNTICK. tanking by design
      Raptors – UPTICK. i’ve read their plan is to tank NEXT year while competing for a playoff spot this year. bizarre considering the strenght of the 2014 draft class
      Pistons – UPTICK. developed young guys, added underrated Smith and Billups.
      Wiz – UPTICK. developed young guys, drafted well, healthier?
      Cavs – UPTICK. developed young guys, added Bynum/Varajao/Jack, drafted well, decent coach
      Bobcats – UPTICK. only because they couldnt get any worse
      Magic – DOWNTICK. tanking by design.

      Teams on the rise:
      Pacers
      Nets
      Bulls
      Raptors
      Pistons
      Wiz
      Cavs
      Bobcats

      Teams on the decline:
      Heat
      Knicks
      Hawks
      Celtics
      Bucks
      76ers
      Magic

      Did the Nets/Bulls improve more than the Pacers? Not likely. lots of questions marks attached.
      Did the Knicks decline more than the Pacers improved? obviously.
      Did the Heat decline more than the Pacers improved? most argue no, I say yes. I really can’t see the Heat beating the Paces in the playoffs this season. however, I don’t think they will get a chance to play as I think whoever gets the 3 seed will likely take them out. they were so healthy last season, considering their age. no one missed any games except at the end of the season to rest. not very common for guys 35+. could they be so lucky again this year?

      by my logic, Pacers leap Heat, Bulls/Nets leap Knicks, Raptors/Pistons/Wiz/Cavs leap Hawks/Celtics/Bucks, Bobcats leap 76ers/Magic.

      so my rankings, again:

      Pacers
      Heat
      Bulls
      Nets
      Knicks
      Raptors/Pistons/Wizards/Cavs

      Hawks
      Bucks
      Celtics
      Bobcats
      76ers
      Magic

      Semis: Pacers beat Nets, Bulls beat Heat
      ECF: Pacers beat Bulls
      Finals: Pacers lose to Thunder in 7.

      • Realist

        Ahaha, I came straight here after reading that article to see if anyone had anything to say on it.

        Don’t stress, poot. Flying under the radar is fine. Not to mention the Nets keep getting blown by 90% of the media for some reason.

        eg: Brook Lopez is in his prime, but there are legitimate questions as to whether Roy Hibbert can maintain. = Puke

        And Haberstroh is rubbish anyway.

  • Realist

    ESPNSteinLine Marc Stein
    Early word on this Pacers-Suns deal is that Phoenix will receive Gerald Green and draft considerations in exchange for Indy-bound @LScola4
    YEAH! How about that, poot

    • Realist

      Gun backup 4 and offloading GG. SWISH

    • poot

      i love it. Scola is solid as hell on the outside shot, certainly makes Tyler look like a chucker and actually has nicer touch than DWest. he is so crafty in the post as well. like Tyler, he has the strength to use his body to get position, but unlike Tyler, he is smart and knows where to go and how to get his opponent on their toes or off balance. Tyler had only one move- go towards the rim. also not many mention because he is “slow” but Scola is so clever, he is a master cherry picker. I would rate him as the #1 cherry picker in the league right now. yes i understand some of this comes from him not getting back on D all the time as quick as he should, but he makes up for it.
      and yeah his D is “suspect” but he is smart and he is not afraid to use his body. he may give up more at the rim than Tyler, but he will send players to the line a lot less. overall it should result in fewer points being allowed, or better overall defense. I think if Vogel tries to play West less so Scola spends most of his time with Hibbert, he will not at all be a liability on D.

      i also get excited to think about lineups like: Ian/Scola/Copeland/PG/Lance. won’t be much on D, but the offense would be insane. so much ball movement, tricky passes, guys getting wide open, cuts or corner 3s. if they get some chemistry, it would be awesome.

      i am a huge Scola fan. i was crying for Pacers to get him when he was amnestied by the Rockets. still don’t get why they didn’t bid. but glad they got an even better deal by unloading Green. when i first saw that Pacers were “trading 2 for Scola” i thought “please be Green and Plum, please be Green and Plum.” what luck. Green is gone, thank goodness for that mistake being cleared. Plum was a bad draft pick, but had potential to be serviceable. he looked good in Summer League, where as a 24 year old he was expected to look great. so a bit of a disappointment. i had doubts he could contribute as much as pendy did last year, which wasnt much. so i was glad to see him go, because honestly, very replaceable. finally the pick, which I expect will be #30, but realistically shouldn’t be higher than 24 at worst. it is a deep draft, and at 24 maybe you could get a guy that would have been 14ish in other years. but consider the Pacers are set for 2+ years. not going to be room on the roster for a rookie anyway:
      Hibbert / Ian
      West / Scola
      (George) / Copeland / Solo
      (Lance) / (OJ)
      Hill / Watson / Sloan

      and the next year:
      Hibbert* / Ian
      West*
      (George) / Copeland* / (Solo)
      (Lance) / (OJ)
      Hill

      () are guys expected to keep, * have options expected to opt-in.

      i mean yeah maybe it’s time to start looking at a PF for when West is ready to slow down, but will you find your future big man in the middle of the draft? maybe. or maybe you just keep it going. Pacers essentially have a 3 year window, 2 years for sure will be really strong, 3rd year is kind of in the air depending on how free agency / trades shakes itself out.

      then after that they begin the rebuild with 26yr old PG, 25 yr old Lance, 25 yr old Solo and 28 yr old G.Hill (contracts totaling ~$30M under cap) bring back Hibbert, offer the MAX to that PF of the future and run it back.

  • poot

    peep this. game 7 recap

    pacers tried to counter miami’s ball pressure by bringing in the “dual point guard” lineup of DJ & Hill. they tried it 3 times: -3, -3, +0, for a net of -6.
    DJ’s time with Lance was also a bust: -3, +2, -3, for a net of -4.
    DJ also played a few minutes with PG, for a net of -5.
    altogether, DJ had a -15 for the game. [identify: weak link #1]

    pacers tried on stretch of super-small-ball with Ian/West/Lance/Hill/DJ. it was an ugly -3.

    hibbert’s foul trouble was huge. Ian just could not contend with Miami’s attack. one his two solo stints he got: -3, -1, for a net of -4.
    with Young in for PG, he got -1, -2, for a net of -3.

    pacers played Green out of desperation or giving up. he netted 0 points prior to the towel being throw in officially at 3:44. Tyler got some run as well, but was poor. he entered a tie game and left down 3 in the 1st half. like Green’s 0, he netted a +3 at the end of the game with Green while down 21.

    The Pacers starters were +3 in the 1st half and -5 in the 2nd half. net: -2.
    adding in the bench was -18 in the 1st half and -4 in the 2nd half. net: -22.

    so what is the moral of this story. clearly the Pacers starting lineup is awesome. no doubt. but the bench needs work.

    fortunately, of all the lineups you saw take the floor vs the heat in game 7, due to personel changes, only 2 are now possible:
    Hibbert/West/PG/Lance/Hill
    Ian/West/PG/Lance/Hill
    these two lineups may have total’d a -6 in game 7, but it’s nothing compared to the -18 the other lineups got. which we will never have to see again. who knows how much better Scola, Granger, Copeland and Watson will fair than Hans, Young, Green and DJ
    but considering
    Scola > > > Hans
    Granger > > > > > Young
    Copeland > > > Green
    Watson > > Agustin

    I like the Pacers chances to stay in games when the starters leave a little bit better!

  • poot

    We’ve come too far to give up who we are
    So let’s raise the bar and our cups to the stars

    maintaining our identity:
    TOUGHNESS, size, heart, teamwork, smarts

    there is no limit to what the 2013-14 Pacers can accomplish