Pacers' Paul George settling in
Brandon Rush's five-game suspension to start the season has given rookie Paul George an opportunity to not only be part of the rotation but also give the Indiana Pacers coaches and fans a good look at the first-round pick.
George is averaging 6.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in 21 minutes a game as the first wing player off the bench.
"It's starting to get better," George said. "I'm not fully comfortable yet. I'm still trying to learn my shots and when to take them within the offense."
George likely wouldn't be getting many minutes if Rush had not been suspended for failing the league's mandatory drug test three times.
Rush is eligible to return from his suspension Nov. 9 against Denver, but coach Jim O'Brien plans to continue with a three-man rotation at the wing. Starters Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy are the other two wings in the rotation.
"Brandon will be the second wing off the bench with a coach that only wants to play three wings," O'Brien said. "There will be times where Brandon gets an opportunity. If Paul is not guarding and guys are going by him, I will sub Brandon in for him in a second. If Paul's turning the basketball over, I'll sub (for) him."
George's rookie jitters only lasted a game. He followed a 1-of-5 shooting performance against San Antonio in the opener by going 3-of-6 from the field in each of the past two games.
O'Brien said George is working on developing a better understanding of when to dribble the ball and also working on certain areas of his defense.
"I think he's pretty far along for a 20-year-old," O'Brien said. "He doesn't get transition defense yet. The other thing offensively is he doesn't understand the best use of the dribble. He can make real good strides if he can improve on those things."
A demanding workout
A three-day gap between games allowed O'Brien to give his players Sunday off, then put them through a grueling practice Monday that included a number of wind sprints.
"We also ran a lot of fast break drills before practice," O'Brien said. "We have to take advantage of it every chance we have to get some conditioning in with more than one day in between games. I want us to be one of the better- conditioned teams in the league."
Ford sits out practice
Backup point guard T.J. Ford did not practice Monday as a precaution because of soreness in his left hamstring. He plans to play Wednesday at Philadelphia.
"He's still fighting the issue he had with the hamstring in the preseason," O'Brien said.
Ok so no reference to Dunleavy's defense? How about him getting pulled everytime he misses his assignment (yes, thus keeping him out most of the game).
And wouldn't it be far more productive to give AJ TJ's minutes if he's still recovering? Even if he is being showcased, I'm guessing other teams would like to see him healthy if/when they trade for him. Either the Pacers are trying to show TJ's worth to the Pacers to other teams, actually think it's best to play him, or are letting AJ fully recover before playing him.