This week was a train wreck for the Pacers' offensively, losing their first three preseason games. The Pacers fell to Memphis 87-85, Orlando 93-86 and Houston 126-92. For those keeping score at home that's three losses, while mustering only 87.6 points per game. Even adjusting for pace, this is an Offensive Rating of 89.7 (Points per 100 possessions). I know it's still preseason but this is an incredibly disheartening number. No NBA team last season had an Offensive Rating lower than New Jersey's 98.1, which is nearly 9 points higher than what Indiana has put together so far this preseason.
For our second installment we'll be looking at a fundamental component of good offense, and focusing on Field Goal Percentage. Nothing fancy, nothing advanced for this week, just plain old regular Field Goal Percentage; shots made divided by shots attempted expressed as a percentage.
In their three preseason games last week, the Pacers' made 94 of 241 shots from the field for a paltry 39.00% Field Goal Percentage. To make matters worse they made only 19 of 65 3PTs for a 29.93% 3PT%. Again this is preseason, but that Field Goal Percentage is a full 3.9 points lower than last season's worst shooting team, the New Jersey Nets. Let's take a look at the team's individual Field Goal Percentages and see who some of the culprits are for the team's poor showing:
Field Goal Percentage Player FGM FGA FG% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT%
Jeff Foster 1 1 100.0% 0 0 -
Josh McRoberts 6 8 75.0% 2 4 50.0%
Tyler Hansbrough 6 10 60.0% 0 0 -
Mike Dunleavy 8 14 57.1% 4 6 66.7%
A.J. Price 11 21 52.4% 5 10 50.0%
Roy Hibbert 20 40 50.0% 0 0 -
Darren Collison 11 29 37.9% 1 4 25.0%
Danny Granger 12 36 33.3% 3 13 23.1%
Dahntay Jones 2 6 33.3% 0 1 0.0%
Brandon Rush 3 10 30.0% 0 3 0.0%
Lance Stephenson 4 14 28.6% 1 6 17.0%
Solomon Jones 3 11 27.3% 0 0 -
Magnum Rolle 2 9 22.2% 0 1 0.0%
James Posey 2 11 18.2% 2 10 20.0%
Paul George 3 21 14.3% 1 7 14.3%
Total 94 241 39.0% 19 65 29.2%
There is an obvious split in this table starting with Darren Collison. Roy Hibbert, Mike Dunleavy, A.J. Price, Tyler Hansbrough, and Josh McRoberts have been taking shots, and making shots. Everyone else has struggled mightily. In particular the performances of Collison, Granger and George are troubling as all three will likely be counted on for big minutes and consistent offensive contributions this season.
It's difficult to draw too many conclusions from the numbers alone. I live outside the Indianapolis area, and League Pass doesn't kick in until the regular season, so I haven't had a chance to actually see any of the action. In addition many of the sites which track advanced statistics don't start updating their numbers until after the pre-season. For that reason I don't have much information on things like playcalling or shot selection which may be partially to be blame for the team's poor shooting.
The one thing that I can comment on, based strictly on the numbers is the shot distribution. It's the preseason and the coaching staff is obviously working through a huge variety of lineup combinations, and trying offensive sets with personnel who may not run them as often during the regular season. Dunleavy, Hansbrough and McRoberts have all been limited by health factors, but with them playing as well offensively as they have, moving some of Solomon Jones' or Stephenson's shot attempts to those three during the regular season should help raise the team's overall Field Goal Percentage.
The bottom line is that the team will simply not be competitive with Granger and Collison shooting so poorly. I have harped on Granger for his shot selection numerous times, and I still believe that having him take a third of his attempts from behind the 3PT line, as he has this preseason, not ideal for efficiency. I can't speak to Collison's shot selection so far, but I would wager there were at least a few long jumpers which could have been passed up to create a better shot.
Summary - Looking Ahead
The Pacers' have two preseason games this week, against Minnesota on Wednesday and against New Orleans on Friday. The time off before these games and the fact that both are here in Indiana should give the team plenty of time to try and work out those offensive kinks. It's obvious things aren't working from an offensive standpoint. Whether schemes need to be adjusted, shots re-distributed, or players simply need to step up and make shots; the Pacers' desperately need a strong shooting performance this week.
I know it's early to be throwing the word desperate out there, but for every inept performance the frustration will build in the fan base and throughout the roster. The team is walking a tightrope this season, needing many things to break their way in order to challenge for a playoff spot. Having a positive finish to the preseason and creating some confidence in the players as the regular season begins would seem to be a crucial component. The team simply doesn't have the talent to weather a prolonged losing streak to start the season as they did last year.
Last Week's Stat Update: Last week we looked at Rebound Percentage and discussed some of the potential problems the Pacers' could have rebounding the ball this season. In their three preseason games last week the Pacers' were handily outrebounded posting an Offensive Rebound% of 24.8% and a Defensive Rebound% of 70.3%. Again, this is preseason and one doesn't want to read too much into the numbers but this represents a nice increase in the team's Offensive Rebound% and a discouraging but expected decrease in the team's Defensive Rebound% compared to last season. For the Pacers' to have a realistic shot of challenging for a playoff spot they will need to do better in both areas. This is definitely a statistic to keep you eye on as the season progresses.