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01-10-2006, 04:34 PM

Young Players Developing Under Fire

By Conrad Brunner | Jan. 10, 2006 <HR>Silver linings are sometimes hard to see, when your team is going through another frustrating year as the victim of circumstances beyond its control. But there is some substantial good news for the Pacers, borne of those very same circumstances.
The team's nucleus of youth has been put on the developmental fast track and, despite some wobbles, has handle the accelerated responsibility.
Danny Granger (http://www.nba.com/playerfile/danny_granger/index.html) and David Harrison (http://www.nba.com/playerfile/david_harrison/index.html), the team's last two first-round picks, both started the last five games together and fared well. Granger averaged 12.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals while shooting 48.8 percent at small forward. Harrison moved in at center and averaged 16.6 minutes, 6.4 points and 4.4 rebounds while shooting 51.7 percent.
Add 2002 first-round pick Fred Jones (http://www.nba.com/playerfile/fred_jones/index.html) to the mix and the Pacers have a strong wave of young talent in the pipeline. After a slow start, Jones has come on strong of late, averaging 15.7 points and 3.7 assists while shooting 47.6 percent off the bench in the last seven games.
<TABLE width=65 align=right><TBODY><TR><TD>http://www.nba.com/media/playerfile/rick_carlisle.jpg
"All three of these guys have worked very hard to get ready for this kind of opportunity and they're doing a good job with it," said Coach Rick Carlisle. "There's going to be some inconsistency, especially with rookies like Danny, and a guy like David that didn't play that much last year although he had some periods where he got extended minutes. But the only way they get better is to get out there. We're pleased they've worked hard to get into this position."
This season wasn't supposed to be about developing youth, but injuries and Ron Artest's trade demand have forced a change in priorities, at least temporarily. With the young players all contributing, the Pacers went 2-2 on their final prolonged Western Conference road trip of the season and at 18-14, fifth in the East.
It's not a bad position when considering only one East team has played more than their 18 road games, and none more than their 17 games against the Western Conference. But the schedule doesn't relent quite yet. Beginning Wednesday night against Milwaukee at Conseco Fieldhouse, the Pacers play nine games in 14 nights.
And so the young players must continue to produce under pressure, with relatively little practice time to hone any dull edges. The team should be much better at the end of the season because of their trial by fire even if times are somewhat tough while the flames are highest.
"Right now, that's our reality," Carlisle said. "Of course, it's a silver lining to any difficult situation when you have this kind of opportunity that presents itself and guys get a chance to develop.
"I think it certainly is one of the positives that comes out of a tough situation, but going into it this is not what we had in mind. We figured these guys would be able to play some and were talented enough to do some good things but they've been thrust into this whether it's fair to them or not. And now they've got to deal with it."
The team returned healthier, with Jermaine O'Neal (http://www.nba.com/playerfile/jermaine_oneal/index.html) back in the starting lineup for the first time in six games in Monday night's 96-90 loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles. Austin Croshere (http://www.nba.com/playerfile/austin_croshere/index.html) could be back after sitting out Monday night's game with a mild concussion sustained when he banged heads with Jeff Foster Sunday in Sacramento.
<TABLE width=65 align=right><TBODY><TR><TD>http://www.nba.com/media/playerfile/jamaal_tinsley.jpg
But all is not quite well. Jamaal Tinsley (http://www.nba.com/playerfile/jamaal_tinsley/index.html) has missed six in a row with a right biceps injury isn't expected back Wednesday night.
"He continues to show gradual progress," Carlisle said of Tinsley. "We're talking about a partially torn muscle in his shooting elbow, so it's going to take a while longer but he is better. He's working out but he has not practiced with the team yet and it's going to be hard to get him practice reps in the next 10-15 days because of the schedule, but we'll have to figure it out and find a way to get him ready." NOTES: Jeff Foster (http://www.nba.com/playerfile/jeff_foster/index.html) has averaged 10.5 rebounds in the last six games. Sarunas Jasikevicius (http://www.nba.com/playerfile/sarunas_jasikevicius/index.html) has averaged 11.2 points while shooting .417 from the arc but .371 overall in the last five. Anthony Johnson (http://www.nba.com/playerfile/anthony_johnson/index.html) has gone 4-of-24 from the 3-point line in the last 10. The team has shot 24.1 percent from the arc in its last 11 losses and 44.7 percent in its last 11 victories. The bench has averaged 37.8 points in the last six games.

Los Angeles
01-10-2006, 04:40 PM
I hope this continues for the rest of the season.

01-10-2006, 04:42 PM
After the Artest trade, they could get their minutes cut. Let's hope not too much.

01-10-2006, 05:55 PM
Let's face facts....the only way that Harrison is going to get any significant minutes to make the type of impact that Granger has on the team ( basically where he can show off his skills ) is if Carlisle is left with ZERO options at the 5 spot. This means that the only time we can see this happen is when JONeal, Foster and Pollard are all injured and he has no choice but to play Harrison.

I was thinking about how most teams are clamouring for a Big Man that can score inside, rebound and block shots and realized that despite the fact that Harrison is foul prone....I am guessing that this is something that is not uncommon for Big Men that play in their 2nd season. As I understand it...Big Men at the Center spot take longer to develop compared to any other position.

I don't mind being patient with Harrison and having him play 15-20 minutes a game until he has earned Carlisle's trust over the next 1-2 seasons....as long as he is given minutes on the court and not pulled / played for the wrong reasons.

01-10-2006, 06:01 PM
I want the DH/JO/DG frontcourt to stay. I really like Jeff off the bench filling in for Hulk. And Danger is simply "amasing."

Los Angeles
01-10-2006, 08:26 PM
You are aware you mis-spelled "amazing", right?
Either that or or "amassing". Both words work.

01-10-2006, 10:18 PM
You are aware you mis-spelled "amazing", right?


01-10-2006, 11:02 PM
Why I like Danger:

1) He blocks shots
2) Hits the three
3) Soars over the rim for fast break dunks
4) Plays great man2man defense on Kobe
5) Drives the lane with creativity
6) Plays with toughness and passion
7) Works on his game (Reggie-like)
8) Great character guy...unselfish
9) Unbelievable...did I say unbelievable fundamentals for a rookie

....the list could go on, but you get the message. He does all of this in the same game on a good team. Usually top rook performers play on a dog. He is simply an amazing rook.

01-11-2006, 12:36 AM
I agree with everything that has been said here about Danny. That being said, I am concerned that a story like this appeared on the Pacers' homepage. This is the tact taken by bad teams to generate interest and sell tickets. You know, the "we may be bad now, but our future is bright" line. This smacks of a concession speach, folks, and I don't like it one bit!