Some of the most overhyped things of 2016:
- The Life of Pablo
- Chick-fil-a moving up North
- Every Sandler movie on Netflix
- The new Iphone
- My writing ability
Also on this list: The Indiana Pacers
Let me be blunt and state that my fellow Open Field writers will not like this. I don’t expect them to. But hey, I can’t let me assessment of the Pacers fall to the wayside just because I am scared of pissing off a couple people. Without a further ado- I hate this Pacers team.
Reason 1: George Hill is a better fit than Jeff Teague
Teague is the better talent but, not by much. The Wake Forest product has more athleticism than Hill and is a better assist man. But, Hill had a slightly higher 3 point percentage and a significantly higher effective field goal percentage. In terms of shooting the ball, Hill is the better talent. Why is this important? Paul George is the focal point of the team. We know this due to his seriously high usage percentage (30%.) PG13 was allowed to thrive because he had the ball in his hands. What made the Pacers overachievers last year was the fact that Hill was able to play off the ball. He let Paul George create the offense by being a legit threat off the ball, contributing to this team’s spacing. Pairing Teague with Ellis is a disaster waiting to happen. Neither of them have had success playing off the ball; something essential for this team’s offensive flow and success. With Ellis, PG and Teague, the Pacers now have three players who need the ball in their hands to score. There are too many cooks in the kitchen.
Reason 2: Speaking of spacing…
Do you want to know why the Celtics did not advance past the first round of the playoffs last year? They could not make threes. Sure, they had wonderful floor spacing. But that was because the defense could sag off Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. It was fake spacing, or defense-generated spacing. I expect the same to happen in Indiana. When Paul George drives and kicks, where doe the ball go? To Monta Ellis who shot 30% from 3 last year? To Thad Young who has never attempted for than 2 a game in his career? Or to an unproven 20 year old center? Sure, Jeff Teague was a remarkable spot up shooter last year however, he only did so on 10% of his possessions. Hill did so on almost 20%. Teague will be asked to expand into a role I do not think he is ready for; one that Hill damn near perfected. The Pacers will be playing with pace but, the space part…I’m not so sure.
Reason 3: Speaking of pace…
What fueled the acquisition of Teague was a desire by Larry Bird for the team to play more quickly. He was tired of Frank Vogel and his defense-first agenda, hence the firing then hiring of Nate “Sarge” McMillan. This line up however, is not one perfectly made for sprinting up and down the floor. Thad Young is athletic yet, this will be his tenth NBA season. Draft experts legitimately questions Myles Turner’s ability to run up and down the floor because he looks like a dinosaur when doing so. Ellis is entering his 12th year and George is a year removed from his gruesome injury. Hey, at least the nimble Al Jefferson can come off the bench for some energy. This team wants to run. They simply aren’t made for it. Here’s a nugget for you to ponder: Jeff Teague is only two years younger than George Hill. They didn’t exactly trade for a spring chicken.
Reason 4: The competition got better
Cleveland did Cleveland things this offseason. Toronto did not add much but, Masai Ujiri is known for drafting players who develop quickly. Count on Norman Powell, Delon Wright and JV to make noticeable, impactful strides this year. Boston vaulted into number two seed talks. Detroit, Milwaukee and Charlotte all will progress naturally. Chicago hustled sideways, not backwards. Oh, and the Knicks could actually win 40 games. Do I think the Pacers will drop out of the playoff race? No. Do I trust Nate McMillan, a guy who has lost in the first round of the playoffs 4 of the 5 times he has made them, to navigate his way to 48 wins? No.
This team will lose more games than it win. On court chemistry is a real issue. What happens when Monta Ellis sees his usage percentage drop to a career low? How will Teague react to not having the ball in his hands? At what point does Thad Young say, “So, I’m on this team just to get rebounds, huh?” Simply put, there isn’t enough ball to go around. Unless, some players get injured, which they will. This faster system is designed to hurt aging players. Jefferson is good for missing at least 20 games. Myles Turner will be playing around 15 minutes more per game; expect him to suit up for less than 70. Ellis is due for wrist sprain. Ironically, I expect this team to perform best when some players are out. Regardless, the East is too good for this team to be anything more than a 6th seed. And, don’t be surprised if they are fighting for a playoff spot. This season’s underrated darlings are sure to underproduce.FOLLOW THE OPEN FIELD