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Frank Slade
07-31-2006, 12:11 PM
How Will Baston Fit With Pacers?

Monday, July 31, 2006

QUESTION
OF THE DAY
Conrad Brunner

Q. What do you think of (Maceo) Baston? Was this a move to bring together two teammates who played well together, or is this a waste of money? I was so excited last year for Sarunas (Jasikevicius), whom I really thought was going to make a big impact. He put up great numbers, especially when shooting the 3-ball, but never got any minutes. The Pacers organization is saying that Baston is someone who will immediately make an impact. I heard that story last year with Sarunas. And does this deal with Baston hinder possibilities with the (Al) Harrington deal since they have now spent some more cap room? I do like Baston's size and defensive ability. I think it may incorporate well with what Indiana has been doing this off season, but what are your thoughts on Baston? (From Jon in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico)


A. Though Baston and Jasikevicius come from the same team in Israel (Maccabi Tel Aviv) and both fall into the category of European stars willing to make the necessary sacrifices to prove themselves in the NBA, Baston and Jasikevicius are very different. Whereas Jasikevicius' primary assets are on-court leadership, decision-making, passing, creativity and long-range shooting, all of those traits were mitigated last season by the combination of a relative lack of athleticism and a grinding style of offense that didn't suit his game.

There's little question Baston has the requisite athletic ability for the NBA. He's a classic run-jump-dunk-block guy, an active, aggressive, somewhat slender power forward built for speed. Though he consistently scored double-figures in Europe, he isn't really regarded as a scorer. He's not a shooter who demands the ball; he gets his points off the glass and in transition. He'll likely come off the bench to bring defense and energy to the frontcourt.

Though both Baston and Jasikevicius should benefit from the change in offensive philosophy, there's another area where their arrivals in Indianapolis differ. Jasikevicius came with quite a bit of hype because of his status as an iconic superstar overseas. When he didn't fulfill expectations, his season was deemed a disappointment – though, by rookie standards, 7.3 points, 3.0 assists and a .364 mark from the 3-point line are respectable numbers. Baston is being brought in clearly to fill a complementary role and his signing has no effect on the $7.5 million trade exception that could be used to acquire Harrington.


PACERS.COM (http://www.nba.com/pacers/news/question_060731.html)