Ok so far we have covered everybody but the rookies so we will get to them today. As before we will also bring Jim OíBrien into the picture because, well frankly almost nothing else matters to me because he affects everything.
In a word, troubling. Letís take away all of the conspiracy theories for a moment and just look at this from a purely medical and functional standpoint. If you are dizzy you are not going to have balance. If you have no balance you can not run, jump or shoot the ball. Therefore you can not play basketball at a professional level.
Now the question is why is he dizzy and can it be cured. I think I read last week where he has resumed some like workouts but I may be remembering something I wished and not read. As it stands right now if by the end of May he was totally healed there is a possibility that he could be in good enough physical shape to make the summer league. He will not have the strength or stamina that he once did but if he is healed by then there is a real possibility that he could be ready to go for the summer league. If he makes that than by training camp in the fall, assuming he has no set backs, he should be 100% ready by training camp. I would think if he dedicated himself to working out over the summer and had no set backs that he should be back into fairly decent basketball shape by October.
However the above scenario is filled with pie in the sky optimism and does not account for any set backs or other injuries. Remember he still has shin splints as well.
Ok, having gotten this out of the way letís begin to talk about his play on the floor.
When he played frankly I liked him. He brought a toughness and physical presence to the team that we have not seen since; well we all know who I mean here. He is so much stronger than most other players his size it sometimes looked like a man throwing around a doll on the floor.
Offensively he was kind of wild and took some really odd looking and often timeís ill advised shots. However he had a knack of drawing fouls on the opposition at a fairly high rate and as an example although he played in 1980 less min. on the floor he shot 24 more free throws than Brandon Rush. Now that is pathetic btw for Brandon he played in 82 games and Tyler only played in 29.
But this does speak highly of Tylerís ability to draw fouls and while his 74% free throw shooting is not breathtaking it still is better than Brandonís 63%.
Obviously he got his shot blocked several times this season but it did not ever seem to stop him form trying to go to the rack with the ball.
He had a nice decent face up jumper going for him from up to about 12í out until he started to get dizzy then he seemed to lose the ability to hit that shot on a frequent basis.
He is not a three point shooter so Iím not sure how that will affect him in the long term although I will say that OíBrien did not seem to hold that against him as he did play him when he was available. Odd how that works for some but not others but I wonít complain in this case as I did enjoy when Tyler was on the floor. Often times he was paired up with Foster which is both odd and interesting all at the same time. I really would have liked to have seen him be paired with Roy more just to see what that would look like in the long run.
Defensively is where I was totally surprised by this guy. He was 10 times the defender I was led to believe he was going to be. He knows how to use his strength and leverage against other power forwards of the same size and was quick enough to stay with some of the faster ones. I canít think of a time where he was really embarrassed on defense and I can tell you that the two times I saw him play against Chris Bosh he totally shut Bosh down and frustrated him because Chris could not back him down and Tyler was smart enough to not allow Bosh room to move around him.
Now having said all of the above glowing things about him I really have to wonder if the Pacers should not have taken a point guard in the first round last season seeing as how once again we are going into the off season with our one year rental going to hit the road and no solid heir apparent on the bench.
He is also not the warmest and loving person on the bench either. Now behind the scenes the guy may be a ball of fun and energy but he is the opposite of Roy Hibbert when it comes to supporting his team mates as he often tried his best to imitate The Moai statues of Rapa Nui.
Also if for some reason Tyler is done with basketball (obviously we hope he is not and it would be a very rare thing if he was) then this is going to go down as a blunder of epic proportions. As it is now it would be easy for a critic of Bird or Tyler to already say that this was a failure seeing as how several other players picked below him have already played more games and look to be as good if not better than what Tyler did. I however want to wait till next season to see where we go with him.
Not your typical second round point guard player. Heís actually pretty good and in fact there were times where I thought he was playing as well as or better than some of the starters at certain points this season. He has no fear which can be both a boon and a bane all at the same time. Often times he takes a shot a little quicker in the offense than I would like however once again we have a coach who does not value shot selection as the highest priority.
Like any rookie he has to work on his turnovers and I would like to see him become a better dribbler this summer and while his defense is acceptable for what he was, it is not good enough if he wants to be either a starter or the first backup on the team.
Which in and of itself is a good thing if you think about it. He is actually good enough that we might be able to consider him a starter at the point someday and for a second round pick that is pretty good.
I hope he is in our summer league and I hope that he and some of the others get together and work on their own this summer to develop some team chemistry. He seemed to have a rapport going with Brandon and Josh and Roy as they all seemed to play better together on the floor and in fact that unit was key in the comeback win vs. the Jazz which was both exciting for the moment and exciting to think about it.
Overall I think both rookies were decent although it was sad that Tyler had his season cut short by injury and illness and I would really have liked to have seen A.J. play some more min. on the floor but hopefully with a full summer to work out and another training camp we will see more of him next year.
Now for the season wrap up.
To quote the great Roger Daltry I ďwonít get fooled againĒ. Yes folks I freely admit I was a sucker last summer. I honestly believed when Bird spoke and talked about focusing in defense and then not only spoke about it but went out and got players who were known as either good defenders or decent serviceable defenders. I thought coming into this season we were going to see a change in the overall culture and style of play of the team. I foolishly thought that we were going to be more physical and would start everything from the defensive end.
Well that went right out the window in the first game at Atlanta and it really went to hell by the first home game to the Heat.
I never once thought we would be a playoff contender but I honestly never thought we would end up being as bad as we were either. Not in my wildest nightmares did I think we would see a December where we went 3 Ė 13. In fact if you go back to November 18, which was the fist game after the first five game winning streak we went 4 Ė 19 which is beyond pathetic.
Look I donít mean to be combative here but I am going to stand up for myself this once. I am a Pacers fan, I have been all of my life and I still am to this day. But I have never wanted to end a season before we even crossed the year mark and this season I did. In fact I really had to drag myself to games from January to March because it was very hard to watch this when games already meant nothing and you werenít seeing players on the floor for development purposes.
This is the first year that I know of that if there was a conflict of a game and a TV show that my wife wanted to watch that I literally just said letís not worry about the game and just watch the show. Iíve never done that before.
I consider this season to be such a huge waste of time that I honestly never want to have to think about it or go over it again (although I am sure I will).
I will give the team this, we had injuries. Some of which were devastating to the club like Dannyís foot injury to make him hobbled to start the season and then tearing it to put him out for about a month. Tyler not being available for training camp and the first 3 games of the season then going down for the year with vertigo or Jeff destroying his back.
So yes the club and even OíBrien gets some breathing room from me on this.
However other teams suffered through equally bad injuries and came together as a team.
Letís not kid ourselves here people with our ending record. If it wasnít for some odd wining streak down towards the end of the season we were a team that was going to win about 25 games and in reality as the last two losses of the season showed us that is really right about where we were in terms of quality. This season was not like the previous two because while they were really not much better teams during those two season overall, at least they were competitive in most games. I lost track of the number of times we would be down by 20 points at the end of the first half and how many double digit losses we suffered for the season.
However the most frustrating thing for me was that when it became painfully clear that we were not going to be competitive again this season that instead of trying something anything different OíBrien would try the same old nonsense of claiming small ball would be what would keep our team in games, no matter how bad we were getting the crap kicked out of us while doing this. The old definition of insanity (trying the same thing over and over but expecting different results) kept coming into my head all season long.
His absolute overuse of Troy Murphy just became a symbol for everything that was wrong with this team. No matter how bad the team would get beat with him on the floor, no matter how good another player might play, no matter that sometimes you just have to shake things up, he would stick with Troy. Why you may ask? Itís simple really, Troy allows him to fixate on the one simplistic idea that he has as a coach. That if your big man can shoot from outside it will draw out the other teams big men and allow driving lanes for your guards and wings to drive.
Like Communism this works on paper, however in real life not so much. Teams adjusted to this early on and good teams just would down right abuse this system.
Now here is the one bit of a compliment I will give him for this. If your threeís are dropping at a high rate you have a chance to beat any team. Much like in a boxing match a person can be outclassed but if they are a good puncher and hit the right punch they can win. Well there were games where this worked. It worked far more often last year but mostly overall it didnít work out this year.
There is nothing wrong with having a system; however you have to be not so stubborn as to not use it when itís not working.
The few times that he went away from this system we were able to be competitive. The Utah game comes to my mind. Yes Danny was on fire and was hitting everything and that was a major role in the game, however the athletic defense of Rush, McRoberts and Price is what turned that game around.
It may be to simplistic to blame everything on OíBrien and like I said in post number 1 there were certainly other things that occurred and some players who did not play up to their potential. However shot selection, player min. distribution, lack of off the ball movement, poor defense due to player selection all fall directly on the coach.
If he didnít like all the quick shots then he is not some invalid that can do nothing about it, if players werenít playing defense with the intensity he didnít like then again he can do something about it, if players are standing in one spot and not moving itís not like he canít make a change.
I go back to being a Pacers fan. I have already bought my tickets for next season I did this when I knew full well that Jim OíBrien was going to be the coach. For all of my griping and complaining I am just too big of a sucker to not get tickets.
But I also go into next season with my eyes wide open this time. No matter what Bird sayís or who he brings in here until Jim OíBrien is no longer the coach I just can not see the team every truly being anything other than a door mat in the NBA. Maybe a door mat that can trip up a few people on occasion, but a door mat nonetheless.
However as I look to next season I am going in with the thought that the same group will more or less be here with a couple of draft picks. Head and Watson will probably be gone and they may even swing some deal that brings in a new point guard but unless that guards name is Chris Paul I just donít see it making that much of a difference until OíBrien is no longer here.
I suppose the one thing that might change this up and still keep OíBrien here would be find someway to get rid of Murphy. Maybe if he didnít have him to fall on every game we wouldnít have to suffer through this as much as we have. For that matter you better get rid of Dunleavy as well because he would probably just give the min. to him.
So no friends none of my posts bear any dancing fruit nor any of my usual poor attempts at humor. This season just sucked the life and joy out of me and I needed to let it out in these posts.
However while there is no dancing fruit I will leave you with the one fruit that does sum up the season.