Playing Outside the Lines: How The Pacers Can Get Creative On Offense

May 16, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets player Thaddeus Young answers questions from media during press conference for new head coach Kenny Atkinson (not pictured) at HSS Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
May 16, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets player Thaddeus Young answers questions from media during press conference for new head coach Kenny Atkinson (not pictured) at HSS Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports /

If Nate McMillan really wants to get creative with the Indiana Pacers, here’s one trick he should employ.

Life is tough on non-shooting 4s these days. They are to the NBA what flightless birds are to the animal kingdom: at times adorable but seemingly pointless.

You have to admit, it’s pretty cute to watch Kenneth Faried run around, clog the lane, and chase offensive boards; it’s like watching my grampa toil away on his typewriter because “computers are a fad.”

Teams need shooters for efficient offense. Duh. The most efficient shots are uncontested ones near the basket; the only way to get these shots is by freeing the paint of pesky defenders, and the only way to do that is by lining the perimeter with shooters so deadly that teams can’t bear to leave them alone.

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The most valuable shooters are the biggest shooters, the ones guarded by the most menacing rim defenders.

Having two bigs clogging the lane in today’s NBA is a lot like having a ponytail: It makes it really difficult to score.

This season, the Indiana Pacers will be rocking one helluva ponytail.

They have non-shooting fours (Thaddeus Young, Lavoy Allen, and Jeremy Evans), and when Myles Turner is on the bench — or if he, heaven forbid, doesn’t extend his range out to the three-point line — these guys will find themselves beside another rim-dwelling colossal.

Making matters worse, neither Young nor the reserves really have the post-up, offensive rebounding, or defensive chops (sorry, that was mean, but I had to say it) to make such a bricky lineup worthwhile.

If they’re going to have any hope of squeezing out enough halfcourt points to beat real teams in the playoffs, the Pacers have to get creative, doing things some teams would even consider out of bounds.

And if you thought those last three words were italicized to indicate a poorly crafted pun, you’re right. Good job, keep it up. For those of you that didn’t catch on: Take a lap, you’re better than that. I’m only hard on you because I believe in you.

Getting Creative

When their two bigs are on the floor, the Indiana Pacers should ask the big in the dunker spot (essentially under the hoop) to stand deep out of bounds, like Andre Miller here:

Miller’s man, Kendall Marshall, is the defender closest to the basket, making him the designated rim protector in this alignment, tasked with curbing the roll man’s dive to the hoop.

Forced to guard Miller on the baseline, a number of feet behind the basket, Marshall is out of position. Too far from the rim to impede the roll man’s path, he gives up an easy dunk.

Positioning Thad Young or Jeremy Evans out of bounds could have the same effect: effectively spacing the floor by forcing the defense to play four-on-four.

Of course, not all defenders will flub this assignment quite like Marshall did; asking a point guard to defend the rim is a little unreasonable. You might as well ask Tyson Chandler to run a pick-and-roll, or Nick Young to stop barfing up ugly twenty-footers off-the-dribble.

Fooling a legitimate big familiar with basket-protecting rotations will take a little more dexterity.

It’s not exactly rocket science, but having Young move back-and-forth along the baseline might do the trick.

Defenders are taught to watch the ball 75% of the time, and their man the remaining 25%, but maintaining this dual focus is difficult when man and ball are on opposite sides of you. By slinking up and down the baseline, Young can bring those percentages closer to 50/50, upping the odds of a missed rotation.

Should his man err on the side of basket protection, Young can sneak to the rim for easy drop off passes, or sprint to the corner to set hammer screens for corner daggers:

When all else fails, Young can secure inside rebounding position — also known as the Moses Malone Special:

Just making sure you’re paying attention.

We got a little nitty gritty there, thought I’d spice it up a bit.

The real Moses Malone clip is below, and man could he (wearing number 2 in the red) snatch up a board:

Can They Do It?

Now, you’re probably thinking: Is any of this even legal?

Answer: It is legal — barely. The clip I used of Andre Miller nonchalanting out-of-bounds was one put together by the incomparable Zach Lowe, back in the season of 2012-13, and the action in that clip was one put together by the incomparable George Karl. It sparked a hardly-publicized debate over players intentionally standing out-of-bounds, a debate that did not culminate in a rule change — yet.

If the Pacers exploit this loophole as much as they should — so, as much as humanly possible — a rule change will undoubtedly result. But that wouldn’t come until the end of the season, and the Pacers have every reason to run out the groundball.

With all that said, I suppose it is worth mentioning: There’s about as much of a chance of the Pacers using this trick as there is of Jeff Teague seeing that new R-rated movie.

Again, I know what you’re thinking: Why the &*@# would I spend all this time talking about something we’re never going to see on the court?

For starters: Kiss your mother with that mouth? Let’s be mature about this, all right?

I wrote this article for three main reasons:

1. Chicks dig theoretical basketball problem-solving. Sorry folks, I got into basketball blogging for the same reason everyone else did: the ladies.

2. I thought it would be a fun piece to write — and it was. I’d like to think you had fun, too. If not: Whatever. I have a degree in Marine Bio from Kansas State, so something tells me I’m gonna be just fine without this job.

3. This little out-of-bounds trick is a good example for a larger point: Just because the Pacers have a lineup straight from the Island of Misfit Toys, doesn’t mean Pacers supporters should excuse a lack of creative offensive coaching.

Just the opposite: A relative dearth of talent and an awkward fit puts a premium on innovation. If the Pacers offense struggles out of the gate, it will be easy (and probably pretty fair) to point the finger at personnel, but we still need to look past the immediate results to determine if the players are being put in the best position possible to succeed.

Next: Rudy Gay Wants to Leave Sacramento ASAP

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pretty geeked to kick this season off. Get ready: October 25th will be here before you know it.