Training Camp Countdown: Point Guards
The point guard crop: incumbents Jamaal Tinsley (L) and Sarunas Jasikevicius (R)
flank newcomers (from top) Darrell Armstrong, Orien Greene and Snap Hunter.
Editor's Note: With next Monday's media day
marking the dawn of Conrad Brunner's 22nd
NBA training camp and 19th covering the
Pacers, our resident analyst breaks down the
roster, position by position, beginning with the
point guards in the first of a five-part series.
A highly talented but extremely fragile player, Jamaal Tinsley is running out of chances to prove that he's earned the prolonged faith shown in him by the franchise. Tinsley has missed nearly half the team's regular-season games the past three seasons (112) and has been fully healthy for just one of eight playoff series in his career. When healthy, he is among the best pure point guards in the league, and has a skill set that should thrive with a more fluid offensive system. If not, well, there are plenty of options.
European icon Sarunas Jasikevicius endured an uneven introduction to the NBA, starting quickly but fading badly as his defensive liabilities were exposed and his normally reliable 3-point shot went cold. With Anthony Johnson gone, Jasikevicius appears to be first in line for the top backup job and, if Tinsley again falters, could find himself in the leading role. He, too, should flourish in the new system but will need to find a way to mask his defensive flaws.
Popular veteran Darrell Armstrong was brought from Dallas in as much for his leadership skills and locker room presence as his ability to play 94-foot defense and hit timely 3-pointers. At 38, he's entering the final season of his career and should be a solid complement to the group.
After not only making the Boston roster as an undrafted rookie but playing 80 games, Orien Greene brings some needed qualities to the Indiana backcourt, namely legitimate size and strength and quality on-the-ball defense. Though raw offensively, he brings an energy and toughness that could bode well.
Jimmie "Snap" Hunter is back for another try at a breakthrough. A minor-league legend, Hunter is an explosive scorer that needs to show the coaching staff he can run a team from the point. His 3-point shooting should be a prized commodity on a team otherwise lacking.
Though their primary duties are likely to lie elsewhere, both Marquis Daniels and rookie James White could get looks at the point in the preseason. Both are 6-7 and athletic and have played the position in secondary roles before.
The Pacers need a healthy season from Tinsley, but not as much as Tinsley needs one for the benefit of his future. It's clear he's the team's first option but not the only. There are plenty of capable candidates willing, and able, to seize the opportunity should it again arise.