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Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

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  • Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

    Today my draft threads continue on with an examination of the point guard and hero from the national championship game, Mario Chalmers from Kansas.

    Chalmers is very obtainable in my view near the end of the first round, sometime after about pick #20. There will be some teams willing to trade out of the late first round for peanuts, to avoid having to pay a guaranteed contract to someone who will have only a marginal chance to make their team. A trade into the late first round for the Pacers remains for me a very likely scenario, with the only question being who to trade up FOR. This thread will be an examination of the advantages and disadvantages of obtaining the sharp shooting point guard from Kansas.

    I view Chalmers as being more of a fit for Indiana than D.J. Augustin would, due to his longer wingspan and superior size. Add that fact to his superior outside shooting, and I view Mario Chalmers as perhaps one of the favorites to be end up in a Pacer uniform on June 26th, after a draft night deal. To get him, I think our main competition will be the Houston Rockets, who pick #25. Examining the lay of the land, I think it is very likely Chalmers ends up with one of these 2 franchises.

    Chalmers is not a perfect player. As a point guard, he lacks "imagination" and creativity. He is not going to be a clever passer in broken play situations, creating a play where none really exists. Instead he is more of your classic "system" point guard. What I mean by that is he is very capable of running your plays correctly and getting you into your set offense, but he isn't going to be able to be isolated often and told to create a scoring opportunity. He will be a prototypical "half court" point guard, with the added ability to be a quality spot up shooter in fast break situations.

    Athletically, he isn't as quick or as flexible as the smaller point guards like Augustin or Tony Parker, and he may struggle to defend the super quick guards in the league. However, he will be a willing and hard working defender, especially if he shares the position with a quality back up to limit his minutes. He will be able to defend post ups well as a point guard, so teams that feast against us posting up Travis Deiner will not be able to do that against Chalmers....they'll have to find another way. His length and strength and physical nature will help him against the bigger point guards however, and will at least give the Pacers a fighting chance against players like Chauncey Billups, Rajon Rondo, and even the lost-a-step Jason Kidd.

    Much like the point guard we have now in Jamal Tinsley, Chalmers has really good instincts defensively. He seems to get his hands on a lot of balls to deflect them, and he tends to gamble at times to get steals, and at the college level he has been very good at it. In fact, in terms of body build and style, he reminds me alot of Tinsley defensively, except that Chalmers plays with incredibly more passion, energy, and drive. Where Tinsley quits defensively sometimes, Chalmers gets more intense and plays harder when the chips are down. He is much more "relentless" defensively, and plays with quality hustle and effort, if not always effectiveness.

    He differs a bit I believe from Tinsley defensively in that my impression is that Jamal relies almost completely on instincts, where I have the impression that Chalmers relies more on scouting reports and intelligence. That is subjective analysis on my part though, and I would assume that the Pacer scouts have interviewed his college coaches by now and got a god idea of his habits in this regard. Chalmers "traces" the ball well, and keeps his long arms active and in the passing lanes, causing trouble for the man he is guarding to make accurate, on time passes when his man has lost his dribble.

    I saw some other positive traits defensively from Chalmers that I really liked away from the ball. I felt like on tape Chalmers really played physical defense under the basket when asked to guard a cutter. He bodied people, made them work hard to cut and get open against him. He seemed in the games I watched to be, again, "relentless" in chasing people around screens, going full speed to chase his man around them. Of course, occasionally that meant he lost vision and ran very hard INTO a screen, taking a physical beating in the process from teams like Texas Tech, who use many more screens than most. Still, I like the fact that Chalmers would at least attempt to recover to get to his man, and his longer wingspan and effort meant that taking a jump shot over Chalmers wasn't an easy task. Because I believe that contesting jump shots is one of the most important keys to defense, and because I believe Chalmers has the desire and wingspan to do that consistently, I rate him as a plus NBA defender potentially even though he won't be a pure "pressuring" defender on the ball, and will play more "positional" and conservative and within a half court defensive structure.

    Being asked to share some responsibilties with others in ballhandling duties at Kansas I think helped Chalmers be able to go all out when he was in the game. I don't have exact numbers, but my guess is that Coach Self thought that Chalmers played his best when limited to about 23-26 minutes per game (in a 40 minute college game). One of the things I think Chalmers will have to do to be an effective point guard in the NBA is to get in much better physical condition and shape, because I don't think he played in college as cut and in condition as he will need to be here. Because of this, I think Chalmers will likely be a prototypical player who hits that "rookie wall" at about game 50 next season, and will have to learn how to manage his body and diet so that improves in year 2.

    While I see limited similarities with Tinsley defensively, there are almost none with JT on the other end of the floor, which is both good and bad.

    Chalmers is very protective and careful with the ball by nature I think, and the relatively easy and conservative "Iba High/Low" scheme I described in my earlier threads that Kansas ran made the game easier for him from a decision making standpoint. Because he wasn't really asked to beat his man off the dribble anyway, the fact that he struggles with that aspect of play wasn't exposed as much as it might be in the more open O'Brien system. Really high quality on the ball pressure defense can give Chalmers trouble, as he dribbles too high sometimes for my taste, and if you really watch with a close eye, you'll see that he also dribbles with his palms too much instead of his fingertips. This doesnt enable him to handle the ball "on a string" and make quick moves to beat people when pressured like you'd like to see him do. Instead, to keep from turning it over against pressure, he will instead turn his back to the defender to keep the defender away from the ball.

    This didnt matter much at Kansas, because where he was supposed to take the ball was predetermined anyway, and the first pass to initiate their offense was easy to make. But at the pro level, that could be a problem if he is in the wrong system, or not used correctly.

    Basically, as a ballhandler, Chalmers is a "Pass A to Pass B" point guard. That is not a fatal weakness, but it is one that needs to be both "coached up" and planned around by whichever team ends up with him. Since I am of the opinion that Houston could use him, I am sure the deciding factor for the Rockets will be if Chalmers fits their "Hybrid Princeton" offensive scheme better than a Ty Lawson or some other style of point guard.

    Chalmers is a good shooter, who has great shot selection. He can make the standstill wide open jump shot/3 point shot very well, which in my opinion will make him coveted by Jim O'Brien and his staff. He isn't going to have the athleticism or lift to jump up and shoot a guarded three off the dribble, but that is a bad shot anyway most of the time. I project Chalmers to be a really good fit for Indiana in the eyes of O'Brien because he will play extremely efficiently, and will play as he is asked to play without too much freelancing.

    When he is trying to line up of a patented open three, and his defender recovers to him, it is in this area where Chalmers is going to have to improve to be a legitimate NBA really good starting quality player. At this point, Chalmers puts his feet a bit close together in his set up for my taste, which doesnt let him "explode" with a big first step. He often while attempting to drive past a closing out defender take a little false step first, which slows him just enough to be guarded and headed off. Because he is slow at this move, he doesnt as of yet have much of a mid range game, because he never gets past his man to need one! He either has such an open easy drive he goes all the way, or he shoots the open jump shot. Thats ok, because he plays within his limits better than any player I have reviewed so far, but by being such a safe player he has limited his own potential to master the little floaters that are such a part of most high quality point guards talents. I think Chalmers can be taught all of this as he gains experience, but he will need to be prodded to do so and taught well by the assistants on whatever team he ends up on. It is not a sure thing, but I think he will improve in this area over time.

    On most teams, I think Chalmers would make an ideal backup point guard. He is conservative and plays mistake free. He is a plus defensively, has a great attitude, willingness to run the plays called from the bench, is coachable, level headed and intelligent, and can make the open jump shot. That is most likely where his career would take him in most circumstances.

    However, I think with our franchise and in Houston (and maybe others.....Denver perhaps?) that he becomes a starter early in his career. I think it is somewhat possible/ probable that Chalmers improves to the point that he is a top 10-15 point guard in the league in time, while giving you every intangible that you would want from your lead guard.

    What you need to help him is another player you can play with him who can handle the ball some when he is in the game (For us, that is Mike Dunleavy and Marquis Daniels, for Houston it is McGrady and Battier), you need a backup who can play some (Deiner for us hopefully, Alston for the Rockets), and you need a coaching staff who can recognize what he is as a player and what he isn't. (I think his unique skills in different areas will make both O'Brien and Bird independently reach the conclusion they really like him). Chalmers will likely seem like a breath of fresh air to franchises who have been so bereft of talent and leadership at that position, while at the same time leaving you with a knawing question : Can you win a championship with him as your starter? I think the answer is yes, if you had superior players at other positions....which we don't but might have someday, right?

    But those questions are far away for the Pacers, who need a point guard from this draft to pair with Travis Deiner and who can fit this system. Chalmers is a much better fit long term I think than Augustin or Lawson, so I think it is very likely that Mario Chalmers somehow ends up in a Pacer uniform next season, if the Pacers can pull it off with a trade/purchase of a pick in the 20-25 area, or perhaps slightly earlier if the need to.

    There are several good comparisons from the past to what I think Chalmers can become. I think Anthony Johnson is a good modern day comparable, even though I know many of you reading this didn't like his style of play. But, since I have in this series when I could to use players from the 80's and 90's just for fun, I have three comparisons I think are spot on.....interestingly, 2 of which are still involved in the league and in your conscience:

    3. Gerald Henderson of the early 80's Celtics.
    2. Avery Johnson of many teams, including the Spurs as a player.
    1. Doc Rivers of the Hawks, clearly the best, most likely comparable player I could think of. Rivers was an excellent player playing for the Mike Fratello coached Hawks, with Dominique Wilkins as their star. Thats the type of point guard I think Chalmers can be.

    Time will only tell if anything I have written turns out to be correct, but if it is, we should all be prepared to be happy on draft night.

    As always,, the above is just my opinion.

    Last edited by thunderbird1245; 06-11-2008, 12:00 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

    I really like him too, but the question is... how high do you draft him? If he really is a better fit than Augustine or the other PGs, do you draft him at the 11? Or maybe try to trade down?
    The risk in that is, you might not get much for trading down and end up losing the guy you wanted to pick.

    I have always felt, and it seems Larry Bird does too (S Williams) that you pick who will help the team the most regardless of where the "experts" think he should be drafted.

    I for one would not be dissapointed with picking Mario at 11.


    • #3
      Re: Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

      Personally, I would ideally like to get multiple guard acquisitions out of this off season given this seems like our area of most need. The point goes without saying and, of course, you've got a SG who's really much more of a SF. And even if you keep him and he builds on a breakout season, there's little depth there.

      Given my preference, I would be ecstatic if we pull a point or combo from the draft plus a point or combo guy with some experience via other means. Chalmers would be solid I think. At the same time, given some of the challenges you see to him early on in adjusting and improving certain areas, adding an experienced guy could go a long way in giving Chalmers time to develop plus some mentoring.

      At any rate, and this may be obvious, I would be content if we got one of either Westbrook, Augustin, Chalmers, or Lawson-No I haven't totally given up on him depending on what intense investigation of his recent incident showed-plus one of Hinrich, Jack, Earl Watson, Ford. Due to Ford's injury history, I'm most gunshy about him. Definitely lowest priority. Also, by no means do I want the former Longhorn duo b/c of their similar stature.

      Honestly, the "big" piece I'd most want to give up in any maneuvering to add the second element would probably be JO. I'd like to keep Dun around, although I might consider it depending on the big picture off-season moves. Of course, there are so many permutations, I'm sure other arrangements I could get behind are out there, too. Let's just hope we are not completely underwhelmed by another offseason's activity.
      I'd rather die standing up than live on my knees.

      -Emiliano Zapata


      • #4
        Re: Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

        Another spot on analysis. To clarify the perceived lack of PG speed/quickness, do you feel that he can close the gap with improved footwork? I'm not as impressed as you with his shooting, but you probably saw him play more than I did.


        • #5
          Re: Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

          I have Chalmers ranked as the 6th best PG in this draft. I would rather have Lawson than him, but if the Pacers were to pick him up late in the first, it would still be an improvement to their PG situation. He reminds me more of Chris Duhon because of his steady PG play and defensive pressure.


          • #6
            Re: Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

            I think we should just stop screwing around and get Chalmers, Rush and Arthur.
            Come to the Dark Side -- There's cookies!


            • #7
              Re: Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

              Originally posted by eldubious View Post
              I have Chalmers ranked as the 6th best PG in this draft. I would rather have Lawson than him, but if the Pacers were to pick him up late in the first, it would still be an improvement to their PG situation. He reminds me more of Chris Duhon because of his steady PG play and defensive pressure.
              We could probably grab Duhon, since he's a free agent and likely not going back to Chicago. Solid defense and good 3-shooting. Was he at Duke at the same time as Dun?


              • #8
                Re: Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

                Really agree with your assessment on Chalmers and where he should fall to in the draft. Body type he appears more lanky than Tinsley to me, but he is a "lane jumper" like Tins for better and worse at times.
                He differs a bit I believe from Tinsley defensively in that my impression is that Jamal relies almost completely on instincts, where I have the impression that Chalmers relies more on scouting reports and intelligence. That is subjective analysis on my part though, and I would assume that the Pacer scouts have interviewed his college coaches by now and got a god idea of his habits in this regard. Chalmers "traces" the ball well, and keeps his long arms active and in the passing lanes, causing trouble for the man he is guarding to make accurate, on time passes when his man has lost his dribble.
                Yes, one thing I liked about he and Rush together especially is that they seemed to work well together and communicated about defensive assignment/positions all the time. Like Arthur and Rush, Chalmers shows a quality of understanding the "why" behind the system he's running.

                Because he can spot up and threaten from deep he reduces the impact of not being an iso/break you down PG.

                I like his passing, he does the little things to make his passes better, improves angles, reaches out, bounces, etc. On one PnR with Arthur he curled to the left and hit Arthur on his right with a strong across the body pass out of his left hand. It was crisp and instant.

                It's not quite showy but it's better than just fundamental.

                I rank the 3 KS kids as Arthur (9-11 range), Chalmers (14-18 range) and Rush (21-26 range) in terms of actual value. Rush I think has gotten overvalued but Chalmers might still be lingering as undervalued.

                At this point I honestly would prefer Chalmers to DJ straight up, same pick. The fact that Mario can be had later is just a bonus.

                I felt like on tape Chalmers really played physical defense under the basket when asked to guard a cutter
                In the UNC game he showed this to a fault. I think it was Hans that had the offensive board with Arthur and another big in front of him. Still when he went to put it back up Mario swatted the snot out of him like attempted murder. He certainly showed no hesitation when it came to mixing it up physically.

                I don't have exact numbers, but my guess is that Coach Self...(limited minutes)
                I think you'll find that Self rotated players like crazy, regardless. When I watched them I was often surprised to find a guy came back in just seconds after going out, or so it seemed. Freaking hockey lines almost. This was true for Arthur and Rush as well I think. KS had great depth, no doubt about that.

                In general you mention some factors, mistakes in style or decisions, that to me indicated all year that he technically probably isn't ready to come out. I think he could stand another year of coaching, but that's not going to be the case obviously. I'd be shocked if he isn't getting "first round pick" feedback right now, which should keep him in the draft.
                Last edited by Naptown_Seth; 06-11-2008, 02:49 PM.


                • #9
                  Re: Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

                  Chalmers reminds me a little bit of Tony Delk whom, if I'm
                  not mistaken, O'B had out in Boston in his stint on the Celtics'


                  • #10
                    Re: Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

                    Originally posted by Burtrem Redneck View Post

                    I have always felt, and it seems Larry Bird does too (S Williams) that you pick who will help the team the most regardless of where the "experts" think he should be drafted.

                    I for one would not be dissapointed with picking Mario at 11.

                    I hear what you are saying, and it takes a real set of brass to do it. BUT on the other hand, Zeke in 06 picked Balkman at 20 which was too early when he also had the 29th pick where he could have gotten him. At the 29th, he took Collins where as he could have had Rondo, Lowry, or Farmar at at 20 then Balkman at 29. All 3 are better than Balkman not to mention Collins.The irony of it is that a PG is just exactly what the Knicks needed last year and now. Even tho Zeke had the brass, some say stupidity, his choice at 20 wasn't the best use of the pick at the time.

                    It takes brass, but if it doesn't workout Bird's not going to be looking real great with ownership, the Pacers can't afford the the mistake now, nor can the Pacers afford the out cry from the fans like Zeke took. The Pacers are trying to get the fans back to Conseco, not alienate them. I don't see Bird taking Chambers at 11. I could see Chambers, just not at 11.

                    Then on the other hand, unless someone falls down to 11 like Gordon, Mayo, etc, that whoever is picked at 11 won't satisfy a great many fans.

                    I, personally, have players I'd like to see the Pacers draft, and one isn't even at a position of need but glut.... Alexander. I'd like the Pacers to get another 1st round pick and get Courtney Lee. There are many posters who wouldn't want either. There are a # of nice players to choose from that I would be happy with, but my biggest fear is a poor pick will be made thus a valuable wasted opportunity to get better in the future. The Pacers HAVE to come out of this draft with quality players!

                    Can this be another: Bird steals the inbounds pass, and passes it for the winning bucket? Lets keep our fingers crossed and hope so.


                    • #11
                      Re: Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

                      Thanks, T-Bird.

                      Chalmers is the PG I want in this draft. #11 is too high, though, so we need to trade into another first to grab him.

                      My dream draft would be Eric Gordon, Mario Chalmers, and DJ White.


                      • #12
                        Re: Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

                        Originally posted by eldubious View Post
                        I have Chalmers ranked as the 6th best PG in this draft.
                        You counting Mayo and Westbrooke as PGs or SGs?
                        This space for rent.


                        • #13
                          Re: Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

                          It sounds like Chalmers would be a good fit for the Mavs and Carlisle's half-court "call every play" offense while fitting into his defensive mentality.
                          Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.


                          • #14
                            Re: Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

                            If we are unable to acquire Augustin or Westbrook I can only hope Larry and company can swing a deal for a pick to snag Chalmers. He looked pretty good the times that I watched Kansas play. Defense is a strong suit of his and that's what we need. (Among other things)

                            "I've got an idea--an idea so smart that my head would explode if I even began to know what I'm talking about." - Peter Griffin


                            • #15
                              Re: Tbird draft analysis: Mario Chalmers

                              Originally posted by Anthem View Post
                              You counting Mayo and Westbrooke as PGs or SGs?
                              I have Mayo ranked as a SG, although, he would be a better PG than Westbrook. I believe his best position is SG.