Pacer Player Power Rankings – the First Five Games

All went well in Pacerland (or nation, whatever teams call it): through the first five games, they were 5-0 (first time since the 1971-1972) and boasted the league’s stingiest defense, surrendering just 86.3 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com.

Every week I’ll rank who I thought has performed in the best way — so if Ian Mahinmi grows into a Tyson Chandler alley oop annihilator and a Gasol post-up mammoth during said week, the rankings will reflect on that.

Here we go.

1a. Paul George  1b. Roy Hibbert

paulroySorry, I couldn’t do it. I can’t split these two. It feels accurate having them as 1A and 1B. Both have had an incredible start to the season and recognize the big picture: an NBA championship.

If you missed it, Hibbert is starting a campaign for his defensive supremacy as well as Paul George for MVP. Hibbert let the twittersphere know he’s craving a Defensive Player of the Year award, after finishing 10th in voting a year ago. And if you don’t want to hear about it, you can shut up because he has goals.

Following their big win against Chicago, Paul George aired his thoughts about the Bulls with the quote of the season so far, “Their success is the Michael Jordan era. This is a new age, this is a new team. It’s ours till they take it.”

The Roy Hibbert-Paul George two man lineup is allowing just 75.1 points per 100 possessions, while scoring 104.3 points per 100 possessions with a net rating of 29.1, which is the highest on the team for a duo that played more than 100 minutes. So what does this mean? Whenever George and Hibbert are on the court at the same time, they’re scoring like a top seven offensive team and defending even better than their number one mark.

To the 29 other teams, ya’ll ready for this?

3. Lance Stephenson

lanceOur friend at 8pts9secs, Jared Wade, spoke about Stephenson’s remarkable three point development through five games, let’s dive a little deeper using nba.com’s new player tracking feature: Stephenson is at 58% on catch and shoot threes, that’s ahead of deadeye shooters Bradley Beal and James Harden. It’s not a small number of attempts either, he’s made 2.8 catch and shoot threes per game so far, which is fourth in the league for players who play 25 or more minutes per game.

Looks pretty good to me! Lance says he wants to stay in Indiana, however if he keeps performing at this rate, more teams will try to lure him away. And as always, money talks.

4. David West

westSlightly dissatisfying start to season for Mr. West, but let’s not lose one’s sense of proportion. Some players have a hot start, play average or below their normal production. He had a career high five blocks against Orlando in addition to a quintessential David West performance in Wednesday’s win over Chicago. Who cares if his per-game averages don’t look pretty? It’s five games in.

5a. C.J. Watson 5b. George Hill

 

watsonghillWatson gets the nod over Hill in my ranking for one reason: Hill is injured and Watson has played every game so far, starting three. The former Brooklyn Net is as good as a backup point guard you’ll find in league, rarely is he out of control when dribbling or committing casual turnovers. I’m looking forward to seeing George Hill back in the starting gig.

7. Luis Scola

luisAnyone else missing some Hansbrough hard fouls?

I’m still a prisoner of the moment after Scola’s performance against Chicago, and nearly bumped him ahead of George Hill. Can’t expect much defensively from him, but bargain for damn, good outside shooting. Scola has made eleven out of his seventeen mid range shots this year, shooting at a 64% clip. Nice start to the year for him.

8. Ian Mahinmi

ianThe bad: Even though his usage rate is a tremendously low 11.7%, which is the lowest on the roster, Mahinmi has the highest turnover ratio of any Pacer. In other words, he’s soaking up the least amount of possessions while turning the ball over the most. Not to mention a few Kendrick Perkins-esque turnovers.

The good: Rebounding, blocking shots, staying in suitable position between the ball-handler and the roll man in pick-and-roll coverage along with helping the helper in pick-and-rolls. One of the ten or so best backup centers in the league.

9. Donald Sloan

sloanAs fellow 8pts9secs writer Avi Friedman pointed out, ‘he did not D.J. Augustin it up.’ I like that phrase a lot. Everyone should start using that for backup point guards who do not stink it up. Sloan has played a nice role as the relief guard with Hill missing time. It’s always weighty to have guys who can pinch-hit at a moment’s notice. He’s maintaining a 17.86 PER, too! Advanced stats!

10a. Solomon Hill 10b. Orlando Johnson

orlandosoloIndiana is having more success with Solomon Hill in the point differential and offensive rating department than with Johnson. Conversely, the defense is harder to score on when Johnson is playing, allowing 85 points per 100 possessions compared to the 96 points per 100 possessions allowed when Hill is on the court. But, 96 points per 100 possessions was Indiana’s average for the entire 2012-2013 season. I have him ahead for that reason alone, Pacers are scoring at a higher rate and defending at same level as they were last year with Solomon on the floor.

He was not expected to be a first round pick, draft projections saw him as a mid-second selection. The pick is looking good now.

12. Chris Copeland

copelandI was ready for the Chris Copeland experience, prior to the season it appeared the Pacers finally had their marksman, but now it seems he won’t see the court often with Solomon Hill playing a nice role as well as Granger’s return from injury in the coming weeks.

I’m hoping Vogel deploys him against the Knicks on November 20th, the first time the two teams meet. Make it rain, Cope, I still believe.

13. Rasual Butler

butlerNot much to say about Butler, who’s played six minutes in three games.

Feel free to disagree and let your thoughts be known to me on twitter. @Jalen_NY

Stats provided by NBA.com.

 

Topics: Player Power Rankings

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  • Realist

    1) PG
    2) Roy
    It’s okay to split them.

    • Philip Tarrant

      Yeah, MVP>DPoY. But I don’t mind 1a and 1b, especially since Hibbert has been a moooooonster defensively. I would not want to go into Hibb’s paint.

  • Philip Tarrant

    Power rankings are such a guilty pleasure. They don’t mean anything, but damn is it fun to discuss sports ad infinitum. The only real problems I have with the list are Pulp’s low ranking (he’s been a real spark in limited minutes) and Sloan being below Mahinmi. I feel both have performed better overall in the time they’ve been out there than Ian who only contributes (very well) defensively. Also, it’s very confusing that Solomon and Orlando’s pictures are inverted beneath their names.

    My Rankings (to this point in the season, not overall value):
    1 PG24
    2 Hibb
    3 Lance
    4 CJ
    5 West
    6 Scola
    7 GHill
    8/9 OJ/Sloan
    10 Ian
    11 SHill
    12/13 Cope/Rasual

  • Guest

    My rank!

    1 P.G
    2 Lance
    3 Hibb
    4 West
    5 West
    6 Scola
    7 Sloan
    8 Hill
    9 OJ
    10 Ian
    11 HiLL
    12 Rasual
    13 Cope

  • dani

    My rank!

    1 P.G
    2 Stephenson
    3 Hibb
    4 West
    5 G.Hill
    6 Watson
    7 Scola
    8 Sloan
    9 OJ
    10 iAN
    11 S.HiLL
    12 Rasual
    13 Cope
    14 Granger?

    im sorry for hibbert but i had to put lance ahead of him because of the much improved offensive production this year averaging 14.3 points so far and shooting almost 50%,while hibbert is averaging only 10 points with one game of 20 points

    • Philip Tarrant

      Hibbert’s defense has been the greatest contribution on one end of the court –defensive end– by any player on the Pacers (maybe the league). Lance has been impressive early, but only noting offensive numbers doesn’t give a realistic comparison. Hibbert has been good offensively, but a titan defensively. That’s not to downplay Lance’s role to this point, but I don’t think the 1a/1b for PG and Hibb is very far off from the truth.

      • dani

        Game 6 vs Knicks if Stephenson does not play like he did… 17 points and made a handful of crucial plays late in the game
        we dont win the series.he is the key for indy to win the championship even if george and hibbert play like good he is the difference maker.our problem vs miami was scoring not stopping them.you say what you want i still have different mind opinion

        • Philip Tarrant

          That’s why this is a basketball TEAM and not just individuals. Contributions are needed from everybody and one person can pick it up when his teammates are down. Lance is our X factor, but it is our defense that has been winning us games. It would be the best in the league without Lance, but I don’t think the same can be said without Hibb. They’re both going to be vital if we want to make a deep playoff run, but I just think Hibbert is the more essential to our daily operations. Really proud of this team’s identity, hardworking and loving the game.

  • Michael Saenz

    The fact that Luis Scola is 7th on this list tells you all you need to know about the Pacers’ depth. Also, no Granger yet. Crazy.

  • AMF1322

    Copeland is slowly turning into decent a trade-chip. If SoloH is ready and defends well, and Granger gets healty again, I don’t see him in the rotation. Should the Pacers try a Copeland-Mahinmi for Pachulia?

  • Tieshonne

    I really think they should use Hibbert and Paul George as trade bate. Possibly go after someone like Michael Tha Carter Williams.

    • Jaret Binford

      We can’t get him. He is on a rookie contract and locked down. I am sure lots of players want to play with Hibbert and PG.

    • Andrew Wills

      anyone who would be dumb enough to trade either PG or Hibbert would immediately be fired… they are UNTOUCHABLE (realistically, who would you be willing to trade them for? not even LeBron, since he could and would leave after the season ended)

    • Philip Tarrant

      har. har.