View Full Version : Is Jermaine O'Neal a difference maker?

05-13-2004, 11:22 PM
First of all, for those whom I haven't seen in awhile... hello! I used to post at Indystar.com alot, but Big Brother is too active at my current workplace to drop by very much.

My question relates to this, does O'neal raise the level of play of others around him? I think a true difference maker on a team has that ability. Magic Johnson had a contagious enthusiasm that he shared with his team. Bird would sacrifice his body for his team, and both he and Johnson were unbelievable passers. They didn't miss free throws and they were money at crunch time. I'd throw people like MJ and Jason Kidd in that mix. Of all teams I fear in the East right now, nobody scares me more than New Jersey just b/c of Kidd alone.

Now, Jermaine does command some double-teams, blocks some shots, and has played at a very high level all year round. However, on a night where his light shined brightly... other lights seemed to be dimmed. I'm not accusing JO of diminshing other players, but it is just an observable fact. I honestly think our W-L chances usually revolve around Artest vs. JO. Don't ask me why, but when Artest has a particualry good game, we tend to win.

Jamaal certainly makes us a better team when he is out there by how he sets people up, but I don't think he raises the entire level of the team. Some players just have that charisma and leadership that pulls their mates to a different level.

I honestly don't know who it is going to be, but somebody in that locker room needs to do just that. When our team plays unselfishly on offense and watches each others backs... we are almost impossible to beat. Miami has certainly played at a very high level, but that is what you are supposed to do in the playoffs. It is time for the Pacers to do the same.

And for starters... hit your blankity-blank free throws.

05-13-2004, 11:51 PM
Welcome, post more often who cares about big brother.

I think J.O is a deference maker and he does make others better. The Pacers record when both J.O and Artest score over 20 during the season was off the charts I think it was something like 20-2. Last night was an aberration.

I believe a team is only as good as your best player or best players. J.O and Ron are the reasons why this team won 61 games and is in the second round of the playoffs. They are both top 15 players in the NBA, maybe both top 10. J.O effort and talent on a nightly basis lifts the whole team.

Is there a better twosome in the NBA that is so young. Can't think of any better, there are a few tandems that are as good.

05-14-2004, 04:27 AM
Welcome, post more often who cares about big brother.

I think J.O is a deference maker

Deference maker? That would be Reggie Miller circa 2004... he defers to everyone ;)


05-14-2004, 04:32 AM
Maybe, hard to say. RA is a difference maker. Both players can be taken out of their games though (less so Ron after this season, he would take himself out of his game). JO seems to kind of "go away" sometimes. I realize he is being doubled and played physical and probably isn't too happy not getting more calls but this will likely change over the next 9 months as this is really JOs first season as an "elite" type player. He's surpassed a couple of PFs who will not be named and I think he ranks below only Duncan and KG now. The calls will come, he'll be getting Webber type touch calls next season. Anyway, I got a bit sidetracked there. I believe JO has the potential to be a difference maker; but he's somewhat prone to periods of disappearing. This could be for various reasons but he's young and should improve in that area. Then he can become one. Artest needs to keep himself out of trouble and develop a bit more consistency on the offensive end to be one all the time.

05-14-2004, 10:08 AM
To answer the question in the title of the thread: yes.

Most, if not all of you, are using a criteria appropriate for a perimeter player.

Take JO's post presence - at both ends of the court - away from the Pacers and they're back to 41-41. That's the real difference between this team and the 2000-01 and 2001-02 teams: JO has grown into a *man* in the paint.

He makes his teammates, and in particular the perimter players, better because of the attention he commands in the post. And he's still young and consciously improving his weakest point - passing out of the double and triple teams and knowing how to read a "swarming" defense like the one Miami is using. Truthfully, he needs a summer with Bill Walton.

He's the one drawing the double and triple teams. He's the one that the opponent is working overtime to slow down. His presence, and the attention he commands on the inside makes it much easier for our perimeter player (Reggie) and our slashers (Artest, Tinsley, Austin, Freddie) to be effective on offense. At the defensive end, he controls the paint, physically, against just about everyone not named Shaq. His blocked shots are down because he's now the primary post defender. IOW, he's no longer playing 'goalie' like certain, popular defensive specialists (I'm referring to Mutombo, BTW, before any Pistons fans jump all over me.) He should block out better, but hey Shaq and Duncan should improve thier FT shooting, too, so there's no such thing as a 'perfect player'.

If teams play him straight-up, he will flat-out dominate. But its not his fault that some of his teammates appear to go into 'cruise control' when he's dominating. They must still be ready to contribute. Several of our players looked really bad the other night because it was the first time Miami played man-to-man (instead of swarming) all series. Except for Ron, they weren't ready to be guarded 'straight up'.

Let's make it clear, Ron Artest is developing into a great player. But he's a complimentary player; if you take JO's dominance - at both ends of the court - away then Ron won't look anywhere near as good as he's looked this season. Period.

05-14-2004, 02:58 PM
Jay touched on this. I'll expand.

It's very hard for a post player to make players around him better like a perimeter player can. Yeah, he can pass out of a double and hit cutters but it's nowhere near the same as a player who actually controls the offense. Even Shaq never won a title until he an Kobe teamed up because with the way NBA games are called it's too easy in the last couple of minutes for teams to hamstring post players - the bumping, grinding and holding inside means that you need someone on the perimeter to make those plays late in games.

So you have to rely on your post player's presence to create mismatches in other ways - but you also need someone else to step up, or at least be able to.

05-14-2004, 03:11 PM
Just my 2 cents but I think he is a difference maker. Even if you take his offensive game out of the equation he changes the game defensively with his shot blocking ability. But I wholeheartedly agree with Jay; JO needs some work on passing out of the post. To me Chris Webber when he actually does post up is terrific at passing out of the post that part of the game just comes naturally to a player like Webber. JO seems to struggle with it and needs to improve. Last game was a perfect example JO had 24 shots and zero assists; part of that was probably because his teammates weren't knocking down shots and the game itself was a an aberration but its an area he needs to improve on somewhat IMO. I think tomorrow you'll see JO and Artest with more assists and a much more balanced attack from the Pacers.

05-14-2004, 09:35 PM
All the thoughts that have been posted are good. It is hard to define what I am meaning, and maybe I had to go through this thread to sort my own thoughts on the subject. All players who are good, and play within the framework of offense and defense, should make their teammates play better... simply b/c of all the attention focused on the star.

However, that is not what I'm talking about.

And yes, I agree a perimeter player has the ability to affect the "team" concept more by being a point guard, point forward... whatever. It is easier to score when you have easy dunks ala Kurt Rambis of the Lakers in the 80's.

However, that is also not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about a person's sheer presense and will to win that transforms how a team plays. I think of LT in football. Have you ever seen him yelling and rallying his team? Those old NFL games where he is on a mic are awesome! Magic did it with his enthusiasm. Jordan and Bird did it with their intense will to win. Not only did Bird and Johnson prove to be excellent passers, but it rubbed off on the guys they played with. Everybody was playing at another level, and it was more than the play of one individual. It was an attitude. An understanding to play the right way. A refusal to lose. Was Steve Kerr going to miss the open "3" setup by Jordan in the Championship? No way, you don't miss when you play at that level.

As much as I love Reggie, I'm not even sure I'd put him in the category of player of which I speak. Reggie definitely was a difference in games, but he did it by throwing the team on his back. It was great when they won, but when the back broke... so did the team. This has been the beauty and the beast of the years of Reggie. I still love the guy though. I can think of no better ending of the year then Reggie reaching back for a Jimmy Connors like moment to seal the first ever NBA championship for the Pacers.

I really see Artest, as long as he keeps his temper down, as having the best chance of being the type of guy I'm mentioning. His relentless pursuit on defense just has to make every other guy turn it up another level. He's getting better on offense, and if it ever clicks for him on that end of the ball as it does for him on "D"... watch out NBA.

05-14-2004, 11:52 PM
I think Ron Artest is the difference maker on this team and last year was a case and point example. Ron Artest collapsed. So did the Pacers. Even look at the last game. Ron's defense wasn't that great. The Pacers let Miami win.

It blows me away how much people still look at the offense of the game, especially when the NBA's best defender is on this team. You do need a guy who can get it done in the crunch on offense, and these Pacers don't have that yet. Jermaine and Ron both get too hyper. Kind of like when Oneal pounds and spins three times and doesn't hit rim with a wild shot and then waves his arms in the air at the official expecting a call. And kind of like when Ron takes a long shot with three defenders on him without passing because he wants to be the man.

A difference maker to me is someone who does everything necessary to uplift his team. Reggie Miller developed into a difference maker over the years. So far I think some ego has gotten in the way with Jermaine and Ron to be that type of a player. Their defense and offense has yet to get it done dow the stretch this playoffs, but they are a very young team. Ron Artest is unique. Jermaine is nowhere near Garnett and Duncan. Jermaine ranks closer to guys like Ben Wallace, though after watching the Pistons game tonight, I think Jermaine has some catching up to do. There are a lot great power forwards in the NBA. Novitzki, Randolph, Weber (pre-injury), Brand, Martin. Jermaine ranks more with them. Artest is the difference. Without Artest, the Pacers are just average. If only he weren't so selfish on offense...

05-15-2004, 12:00 AM

05-15-2004, 12:03 AM

Short and sweet.

I agree. :devil: