Player Review: Luis Scola Improves Bench, but Pacers Need More

May 18, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Luis Scola (4) warms up before game one of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs vs the Miami Heat at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
May 18, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Luis Scola (4) warms up before game one of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs vs the Miami Heat at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports /

With free agency looming and a major NBA offseason changing the future for many teams, we will also be taking a look back, evaluating how each Pacer played last season and what this may mean for the season to come in Indiana.

The Argentinian Sensation know as Luis Scola was brought in to fix the Pacers bench woes from 2012-2013 as the Pacers sacrificed draft picks to Phoenix to try to achieve that goal. While Scola did put up better numbers than Tyler Hansbrough did, the Pacers bench still lacked the punch it needed to be an effective unit in the playoffs.

What hand did Scola play in this and what was just a slightly stronger bench unit thanks to C.J. Watson and Lance Stephenson’s time running the plays? Let’s take a look.

One thing Scola did was open up the court. Hansbrough wasn’t effective any further than 10 feet from the basket. This did allow other players to space out the floor more but Scola may have himself been pushed beyond his own limits (as we’ll talk about that later). But Scola need to be better than the man he replaced. significantly better. Scola did help make this year’s bench be less of a burden as they broke even as compared to a bench that constantly put the Pacers on the wrong end of the scoreboard.

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So yes, Scola was a plus to the team. One thing I noted was Scola paired well with Stephenson running the second unit as 22 percent of Scola’s made baskets came off Lance’s assists. Scola isn’t the type of player that can create is own shots but he can certainly knockdown the ones created for him. For any of the doubter than still think he wasn’t a positive addition to the team, remember that in the Milwaukee Bucks game in March (when Frank Vogel rested all five starters) Scola scored a season high 24 points in the win and reminded us: “Yes, I am capable of doing more.”

Scola shined in the extended minutes and showed why he was a starter the year before with the Suns. He moved around the court to find his shot and took advantage of the opportunities that came his way as he shot 64.7 percent from the floor that night.

Before we get into some of the negatives from the season, let’s hit off on a few more reasons why we love Luis Scola.

He’s crafty.

ScolaStealFinish /

He can dunk.

ScolaDunk2 /

But we learned that one of Scola’s weaknesses is a buffet.

BuffetLaser /

But ultimately looking back on the season it gets complicated trying to decide the weight any player carried. A fast start became a sad limp to the finish for the entire squad. Scola’s numbers declined as everyone else’s did so that’s no surprise. Part of the problem for Scola was finding a role where he was most effective on the court. In the high times there were plenty of shots for everybody, but as the season wore on the Pacers lack of a real offensive plan began to show. It isn’t as if Scola isn’t smart, or lacks hustle, but he just never really found his place in the Pacers offense. There are a number or reasons for this. For starters, he isn’t one anymore. Luis sacrificed minutes to come play with the Pacers as he took a cut from 26 to 17 minutes a game. But that was to be expected, what was possibly an unforeseen circumstance was the fact Scola wasn’t even going to be able to play in the same way he did in Phoenix. He’s been progressively getting further away from the basket as shooter his entire career, but this year he jumped to an average of 12.1 feet away.

% of FGA by DistanceFG% by Distance
SeasonTmMPFG%Dist.2P0-33-1010-1616 <33P2P0-33-1010-1616 <33P
5 seasonsHOU11662.5108.5.996.343.
1 seasonIND1399.47012.2.988.
1 seasonPHO2184.47210.8.983.

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 6/29/2014.

This season also saw a jump in the percentage of shots from 16+ feet. In fact, nearly half his shots came from there. Instead of shooting nearly a quarter of his shots from the 3-10 foot range, those shots have migrated out to those deeper ranges. The difference is subtle bit the effect is big. He shot below his career average percentages from every distance. He was taking a greater percentage of his shots from above the foul line than he had in the past and his numbers, 8 and 7 percent respectively from right and left of center, but it should be noted he saw a 4 percent increase from center.

It didn’t help that his shot began to slowly leave him as the season wore on. To paraphrase my favorite Frank Sinatra song, he was riding high in November (53.7 FGA percentage), but shot down in February (37 percent). He did recover back to normalcy before the regular season headed, but he also was taking less shots. The playoffs continued this as he shot 45.7 percent.  While he had been more of a neutral factor on the +/- front in the regular season, but in the playoffs he was exposed at a rate -13.5. It wasn’t pretty.

Scola was a definite improvement for the Indiana bench, there is no doubt about that. Scola did what he was suppose to do in improving the Pacers bench. Allowing Scola to operate closer to the basket may be a good idea but it also might clog up the lane. The only real question is whether the Pacers are going to come up with a better plan for the second unit’s offense than the “Stand around, bail out Lance as needed” tactics that were used this season.

Indiana isn’t done making post season moves yet so it is hard to say for sure if we’ll see him back in a Pacers jersey. In my opinion though he should be back because if the Pacers can work to get him closer to the basket and have a real offensive plan then Scola may be more effective than what we saw this past season.