The Indiana Pacers may have Paul George locking down the starting small forward spot, but after that there are a lot of questions on how and who they can find to be a back up.
Right now Solomon Hill, the 23rd pick a year ago, would be there if the season started today but the second-year player out of Arizona has only saw limited time in the NBA. Hill played in 28 games, clocking in at 8 minutes a game while averaging 1.5 rebounds and 1.7 points — not much to write about, but we do know the Pacers second unit wasn’t exactly a well oiled machine. It was more of a “Hey guys let’s throw the ball to Lance Stephenson and see what happens!” type of strategy. For the year Solomon Hill was 42% shooter and 30% from 3-point range in his limited minutes.
One thing to consider though is obvious: He was a rookie, and rookies take time to find themselves in the NBA. For Solomon Hill it took some time for himself, but at least looking at the numbers he appeared to be trending in the right direction.
The rookie started the year off by shooting almost exclusively 3-pointers. He was doing a great job of getting open, but the shots weren’t falling. Solomon Hill started off the year on a bit of a rough stretch as his stat line was 1-of-11 from beyond the arc going into late November. But after a 2-of-3 performance against the Washington Wizards on 11/29/13, he was able to find his rhythm. Before the Washington game he was a 26.1% shooter, 9.1% from beyond the arc. Afterwards he was shooting 52% from the field, and 50% from 3-point land.
But last year, Solomon Hill was part of a rotation of players that mainly included Rasual Butler, Danny Granger and then Evan Turner. Obviously Granger and Turner are gone and the problem with Butler is, well, he’s old and isn’t the player you want rounding out your second unit, but don’t discount his veteran status within the team.
All of them saw more playing time at the small forward spot than Solomon Hill, who either was a DNP or inactive for 53 games. His development as a player is hard to judge considering the win-now situation the Pacers were in last season limited the amount of time Frank Vogel put him on the floor. To some, this made him one of the worse rookies last year, but to me this is more of an incomplete assignment; 28 games isn’t the largest of sample sizes.
So what options does Indiana have on the free agency market?
One name being floated around is Shawn Marion. While he does little to solve the long-term weakness at small forward, he did have a stellar year with the Dallas Mavericks. The Matrix may be old, but he certainly was productive and fairly efficient last year.
In comparison to last year’s players in Indiana, he’d have the edge over any of those players and most certainly be a better option in the short term for the Pacers.
Turner scored more last season the Marion did, but the Matrix was a better rebounder, more efficient as a shooter and arguably a better defender.
With Lance Stephenson gone as well, the Pacers certainly need to come up with offense from any position on the floor. Marion could be an addition that fits in well.
The offseason is far from over but until a trade is more than rumor, the Pacers will have to look at free agents to bolster their roster.