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View Full Version : Wells @ the Star: Here 1 month now, Peja comfortable and better than advertised



Slick Pinkham
03-03-2006, 10:13 AM
'Comfortable' as a Pacer

Stojakovic shows solid defensive skills to accompany offensive prowess


By Mike Wells
mike.wells@indystar.com
BOSTON -- The newest Indiana Pacer paused, then looked puzzled.

"A month already," Peja Stojakovic said after a recent practice. "The time has gone by so quick."

And so smoothly.

Stojakovic, acquired from Sacramento in a trade for Ron Artest, has called his first month with the Pacers a fresh start. He's averaging 19.8 points and 6.9 rebounds in 12 games with his new team, which is 8-4 since his arrival.

"I feel much more comfortable now," he said. "We've been playing together for a month and I think it's easy, not just for me, but for the guys, too. It was a learning lesson for both sides."

The Pacers' starting small forward has given the team accurate 3-point shooting. He fits into what coach Rick Carlisle calls a "free flowing" offensive system because of his passing skills. He doesn't need the ball in his hands to be effective. And he has been a pleasant surprise defensively.

"He's a professional," Carlisle said. "He doesn't say much; he just works and wants to win. He wants to play the game the right way and wants to be a part of a successful team. Those are the type of guys you love to have."

Stojakovic said his biggest transition has been on defense. In Sacramento, where he spent his first seven-plus seasons, the emphasis was outscoring opponents. The Pacers want to shut teams down.

"We tried to get in the open floor whenever we could," he said of the Kings. "Here, we try to do the same thing, but also there's a lot of emphasis on the defensive end. If you secure a rebound, it's a good thing to get in transition and get some easy points."

Sacramento's style made it easy for Stojakovic to be labeled a one-dimensional player. He has been anything but with the Pacers.
"We always knew he was a good all-around player," Carlisle said. "From afar, we always felt he would be a better individual defender than what he was given credit for just from watching him play against our team. He's a guy that always had pretty good rebounding numbers for a (small forward)."

His offensive prowess has never been questioned. He's making nearly 47 percent of his 3-pointers, including four games of at least four 3s.
"I think (his shooting) will be more noticeable when Jermaine (O'Neal) is back," said center Scot Pollard, also his teammate in Sacramento. "You can't double off Peja because he's that big of a threat. Even if he's missing, he provides that element like Reggie (Miller) did. Even when he's off, he can go off at any time."

One big difference between Stojakovic and Artest's offensive game is that Stojakovic works from the perimeter and moves well without the ball. Artest preferred to have the ball and isolate against his defender, which disrupted the flow of the offense at times.

"If you're going to play more of a free-flowing game, you need players that play effectively without the ball without having to hold it and touch it a lot," Carlisle said. "Peja fits well into that type of situation. His ability to play off the ball and sort of be a part of the game in motion offensively has really helped us be a better ball-movement team and helped us be able to play a faster tempo and get back and guard people."


Call Star reporter Mike Wells at (317) 444-6053.

Lithfan
03-03-2006, 10:37 AM
Thats very good.

It feels like Peja wants to stay in Indiana. He indeed is playing better than he did in Sacto.

What I particulary like is that he fits well within any team. He is guy everybody like, at least now. He moves without the ball creating opportunities to PG to make an assist and to C to be left alone after blocking, he rebounds, he passes, he defends. I think he is better than Artest. Funny that many people where down when Peja was acquired.

Mac_Daddy
03-03-2006, 12:26 PM
I'd like to see him stay. I hope that some good deal can be worked out if he decides to forgoe his option...

I always appreciated the guy, now I can love him. :-)

rexnom
03-03-2006, 01:08 PM
As much as he likes Small Serbia in Chicago, why would he go there? Here he would obviously be more comfortable and more successful. Our team simply is more competitive. And Chicago is still kind of close...

Raskolnikov
03-03-2006, 01:17 PM
Nice read.

I just saw the Warriors game (that's been a while, I know).

The man can drive! Not that I thought he couldn't do it at all, but I didn't think he'd be so effective at doing it. Every time (didn't happen much though) he drove to the basket, it was bingo. He should do that more if he wouldn't be shooting this well (and I've heard many of you say that is in fact what he does when his shot is off).

And he's a good passer too.

I really, really want him to stay.

Gamble
03-03-2006, 01:25 PM
Well dollars speak in the NBA and I am not sure how much he is
worth. What would we be willing to give him? 8 mill/year for 4 years.

NewType
03-03-2006, 01:53 PM
But in Chicago, he will be competing against Deng and Nocioni for minutes. Here, his minutes will be in pretty good shape for a while.

Kegboy
03-03-2006, 02:12 PM
I don't think there's a better coach in the league for Peja than Rick.

I find this interesting:


"We always knew he was a good all-around player," Carlisle said. "From afar, we always felt he would be a better individual defender than what he was given credit for just from watching him play against our team. He's a guy that always had pretty good rebounding numbers for a (small forward)."

Most always, when Rick talks about personnel moves, he says "Donnie and Larry" this, "Donnie and Larry" that. This tells me Rick campaigned hard to get him. If Billups is Rick's perfect PG, I think Peja may just be his perfect SF. He allows Rick's mad-scientist side to go nuts.

CableKC
03-03-2006, 02:17 PM
But in Chicago, he will be competing against Deng and Nocioni for minutes. Here, his minutes will be in pretty good shape for a while.
Maybe...maybe not......we need to step back and look at the realities here. Wherever Peja goes.....whether it is Chicago, Toronto or Indy....he's gonna get a decent sized 4-6 year long-term contract.

If he were to go to Chicago......for whatever amount of money that he would likely sign there....it would be hard pressed for the Bulls to give ( at least ) 28-32 minutes a game to a player making a decent amount of money. If he is competing for minutes with Deng and Nocioni....then it would be stupid to sign him in the first place.

Toronto....I can see as a different situation.....he could get the money and long term contract that he wants....and won't have any problem playing ahead of the likes of CV and/or Joey Graham while playing next to Bosh ( the next JONeal ).

Besides......if he were to end up in Chicago...I wouldn't be surprised if the Pacers do a S&T involving either Deng or ( more then likely ) Nocioni and filler of some sort ( maybe Eddie Basden :pray: ).

Roaming Gnome
03-03-2006, 04:56 PM
I just hope the Pacers are not setting us all up with lip service like they did with the Brad Miller deal. They better find a way to keep this guy! Luxary tax or not.

PacerMan
03-03-2006, 05:23 PM
I just hope the Pacers are not setting us all up with lip service like they did with the Brad Miller deal. They better find a way to keep this guy! Luxary tax or not.

They were hamstrung by contracts they'd already given to other players. They also underestimated the importance of Brad's high post game in concert with Jermaine down low. (IMO)
They've seen how much we missed Reggies deep ball threat and now we have it again with Peja. And we aren't hamstrung (so much) with recent contracts.
I don't think they'll let him get away IF he wants to stay here.