I figure I'll be doing recaps for the next few weeks (probably in my sleep) but to start with I figure we might as well grade the players one by one.
It's just like school folks. A,B,C,D & F with pluses & minuses for good measure.
Kenny Anderson. To me he was about what I expected out of him. I remember Kenny as a much younger player & I was never thrilled with him then either. He's a decent ball handler but is not what I would call a good protecter of the ball, he can be made to pick up his dribble early on. He is not a great passer but he can make passes, if that makes any sense. He's just not a good defender, period. He's not the worst in the league, but he can be lit up like a christmas tree by faster guards. But Kenny can still shoot & he can drive the lane. He was part of our fast start & IMO he can't be blamed much for that last game implosion he had. I don't expect him back next season nor can I say I really will be sorry to see him gone.
Ron Artest. Had an outstanding season. Marred only by a couple of incidents. One when Rick pulled him for going his own way on offense & a couple of times that I questioned whether or not his headaches weren't really a coverup for something else. But neither take away from what was an all-star D.P.O.Y. season. He is one of very few Pacers who can create his own shot & he is obviousley the best defender in the league. His post season was good vs. Boston & outstanding vs. Miami. His play vs. the Pistons was mixed but still solid. Unfortunatley he ended the season on a sour note & I don't mean the flagrant foul. He went off the farm again on offense. But for the sake of grading for the hole year that really was just a pimple on the *** of the season. So for my money Ron had a solid season
Jon Bender. Injury's again. It would be easy to give him an incomplete but to me that would just be giving him a pass for once again not having a complete season. I think Jon has a problem playing unless he is at 100%. But let's look at what he did give us. For the first time I could see occasions where he didn't look like he had no clue as to what to do. He did make more of an effort this season to go down low & play some. However, when the pressure was on in the Miami & Detroit series Jon reverted to his old ways. He is getting stronger, but in all honesty how much more of this are we going to have to take. What is it that people really expect of the guy? 20 & 10? I don't see how you can have two guys doing that. I digress. Back to the season in review. I saw some growth but not nearly enough.
Jamison Brewer. He did not develop that shot he needed. He didn't get a real chance here & I just don't know that he ever will. How do you get a young guy a break when you have a young starter with a veteran backup? I fault Jamison for some of this though, if he would devolp any kind of shot he could be the backup to Jamaal.
Primoz Brezec. Waste of roster space. Anybody who actually beleives this guy will ever be anything more than the 12, 13, 14 or 15th man on an N.B.A. roster is just kidding themselves. He is virtually the same player he was when we drafted him & on a team that had a shortage of real backup big men the fact that he couldn't get off of the I.R.L. should speak volumes.
Austin Croshere. This could have been his year. This could have been the year that he made a bigger role for himself. But he didn't do it. He has got to work on consistancy. The guy comes in & does one of two things. He is either outstanding & leaves the home town fans standing and cheering or he is just useless. He never hurts you on the floor with stupid mistakes but sometimes just wondering around the perimeter is harmfull in itself. If Al or Jon or Ron are moved & we don't get a new center I do look for Austin to have a bigger role next season on the team. He did spread the floor on offense in the playoffs for us so that was helpfull & he is definately an underrated rebounder.
Jeff Foster. Made huge huge strides this season. I had written him off to being a scrub forever & he made me eat my words. Now if only he could develop any form of offense, it's on him to do it in the off-season. But as to last season we won 61 games because he wasn't the void in the middle he could have been. He even began to guard the bigger players better as the year went on & he even rebounded the tough boards that I used to gripe about him not getting. Great year for Jeff.
Al Harrington. The Rodney Dangerfield of the Indiana Pacers. He gets no respect. The fact that everybody is willing to give this guy away & keep a player who for five years has yet to prove he can play in more than 30 games flabergast me. Jon bruises his shoulder & goes on the I.R.L. Al hurts his knee, chest & hip & plays on. But does anybody care? Could easily have been the 6th man of the year & probably lost it because of name value. Al could easily be a 16 & 8 player as a starter somewhere, including here. I am not convinced that Al won't still be here next year but that has nothing to do with the grade for last year. I think he could have been a little more consistant but all things considered I thought he had a great year.
Anthony Johnson. Role player. I mean that as a compliment. He knows his role & does not try to go beyond it. He is a true leader on the bench & the value of that alone is outstanding. I would really really like to see him work on his ball handling ability so that every team in the entire N.B.A. wouldn't try to half court trap him. But his shooting was solid & his defense was great. One of the better backup p.g.'s in the N.B.A. if you ask me.
Fred Jones. Dunking it on Ben Wallace alone almost got an A+ from me but instead I'll just offer him a . The guy made real strides this season & made huge strides (IMO) during the playoffs. Unlike Bender when his shoulder was injured he soldiered on. Ron is already a great defender at the two spot & he guarded Hamilton as well as Ron did. His jumper got more consistant as the season progressed. Just keep on keeping on in the off-season & I wouldn't be offended to see a backcourt of Tinsely & Jones.
James Jones. I have to give him an imcomplete. I have no idea about him at all.
Reggie Miller. If he were any other player on any other team giving him anything higher than a D would not even be considered. A two guard who can only give you 10 ppg at 6 million a season is not what I consider a good thing. But this is Indiana & he is Reggie. He is getting better at being a leader vocally. He can still play. He can still play at a high level, just not as often. This was the first year though that I really have seen Reggie be such a weak link on the defensive side & that may just simply be age catching up to him. He had a good passing season & his shooting % was good. Like Croshere he does not do anything stupid to hurt you. He did hit some big shots this season. I do think the theory of him being a decoy is over used & sometimes borders on hyperboyle, but at the end of a game there is still no doubt the man can hit his shot.
Jermaine O'Neal. 3rd in line for M.V.P. says it all IMO. He did everything that we asked of him & he even sometimes gave us more. It's no seceret that I was not a big fan of his & my son keeps telling me that I will never actually accept him because he was traded for my favorite player & to some extent that may be true. But to me this guy has made a 100% improvement in attitude & floor demenor. When I called him a warrior during the Pistons series that is as high a praise as I can give to a big man. He fought the Pistons, all by himself on many occasions. I ask nothing more of the man other than to heal up & bring it strong next season.
Scot Pollard. I can't put this any other way. Only the Alex English for Big Mac & the Tom Owens for the draft pick that could have been Jordan are worse trades in franchise history. Is it his fault? I don't know, Rick tried to start him. Even after that didn't work Rick tried to play him during the season & the guy just never produced. When he airballed the hook shot that was about enough for me. Didn't rebound to what he should have, didn't defend hardly at all as for passing & receiving the ball? I didn't call him stonehands for nothing.
Jamaal Tinsely. Never pouted or let his head hang when he was getting screwed at the beginning of the season. I don't know that sitting made him a better player. I can't say that it did or didn't for sure. All I know is that Jamaal is the engine that maker our car drive. When he is not in the game our offense is virtually non-existant & our guard production is almost nil. He still needs to work on lateral speed & work on his shot a little but other than that I was pretty pleased with J.T.