Indiana Pacers: One stat reflects ideal way to win more games this season

Indiana Pacers, Malcolm Brogdon, Russell Westbrook - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers, Malcolm Brogdon, Russell Westbrook - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Pacers have arguably turned in the most rollercoaster campaign so far, juggling between wins and losses 21 games into the season to the tune of a middling 9-12 record, 13th in the Eastern Conference.

While the Pacers are playing a lot better than they did to begin the season, they certainly have much loftier goals than simply being in the play-in tournament discussion, and even that is far from a certainty, with the East’s renewed talent pool pushing the Blue and Gold to the third-worst mark in the conference.

Indiana doesn’t have the household name who can singlehandedly win them games with sheer talent alone, but they have a collection of fringe All-Star level players who can net them victories as a collective. That however, has not materialized yet for the Pacers. However, one stat reflects an ideal way for the team to improve their standing in pursuit of better payoff positioning.

The Indiana Pacers should look into trotting out a more unpredictable attack

Malcolm Brogdon‘s All-Star play this season has not gone unnoticed, being the Indiana Pacers’ alpha so far in the 2021-22 campaign. A deep dive into the stats fortify this, with the floor general leading the team in field goal attempts per game (16.2), and ranking second in usage rate (25.6) behind backcourt partner Caris LeVert.

However, as some Pacers fans have already noticed by now, Indiana has a better record when Brogdon falls short of his FGA average. Look at the team’s record splits in the 16 games that he has played in this season.

  • >16.2 field goal attempts: 2-7
  • <16.2 field goal attempts: 5-2

Do these jarring splits mean that Malcolm Brogdon should hoist less shots moving forward? Yes. And no.

On the surface, the Indiana Pacers are bluntly better off with a more egalitarian approach offensively, compensating for their lack of an upper-echelon scorer with a vaster array of capable scorers who can put up points on the board in various ways. This season, however, the Blue and Gold has been primarily steered by Brogdon in the half court, rarely deferring to other players to commence the team’s sets and turn up the machine.

Feeding Domantas Sabonis in the post has been more secondary than ever before, with the Pacers opting to let the two-time All-Star begin the point of attack on the high post. Indiana ranks third in the league in frequency of handoffs this season.

However, with Brogdon soaking up the bulk of possessions, ranking eighth among all players in touches per game, the Pacers have preferred having Sabonis space the floor for him, with the big man now slipping into the perimeter from the high post instead of doubling down on the block. Defenses have been hacking the post against Domas more often this season, but Indiana has also shied away from feeding him inside, even on mismatches.

Another reason why Brogdon’s shot attempts are high this season is that the Pacers have been more than willing to have him create for himself in bailout opportunities and late clock situations. Malcolm has been particularly great at this in crunch time, but the presence of Sabonis, LeVert (when healthy), and to a degree, Chris Duarte, should prompt Indy to look into a less predictable gauntlet to carry them in empty possessions.

Still, defenses have yet to double down on Brogdon this season on a consistent basis, justifying his shot attempts a bit. If this continues, I’d be the first to advocate for him to take those shots, but by default, I would like to see the Pacers share the goods a lot more this season, an area where the team has dropped from last season where they ranked second in assists per game.

Malcolm Brogdon’s electric play this season has been one of the main reasons why the Indiana Pacers were able to brave through a horrible start, but to gain more traction in the East, the team needs a bit more balance offensively. Doing so will not only help them win more games, as the numbers attest to, but will also help them ease the load for their oft-injured point guard and prepare them for the return of one of their best scorers.

Next. 4 things Pacers fans should be thankful for this season. dark