Decent article below. But the point I really want to make is how Rick using the bench correctly has allowed Freddie to turn into a consistant performer.
For three years most of us were disgusted by Isiah's player substitutions. Isiah admitted he substituted based on performance, sounds good in theory, but the way Isiah did it was horrible for the bench players.
Back to this season. There were a few games this year when I am sure Carlisle had to fight himself to stay with his bench players, stay with the regular substitutions, even if it costs the pacers a game early in the season, because it will pay off later. Stay with Freddie even while he is struggling, because Rick knows it will pay off in the long run in a much more productive bench and fresher starters.
If Freddie or other bench players struggle during their first half rotation, OK fine, but Rick always brings them back for their normal second half rotation. Isiah never did that. If a bench player really struggled in the first half, you would not see them in the second.
Another thing Rick does is even if the Pacers are trailing, he uses the bench. Rick acts like he trusts the bench and has confidence in them, and you know what that gives the bench players confidence in themselves. That was absent for three years.
Pacers' Jones is on the move
The former Barlow and Oregon standout takes time out from his defense specialty to concentrate on his dunking prowess today
GEOFFREY C. ARNOLD
LOS ANGELES -- Fred Jones doesn't know what types of dunks he'll try tonight.
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Sitting at an empty table, Jones was too busy soaking up the fanfare, activity and energy surrounding Friday's media day for All-Star weekend. Jones will compete in the slam-dunk contest, but deciding which ones he'll try was the last subject on his mind.
But he knows that his participation in the event continues a solid season for him.
"I'm getting my name out there and I'm trying to solidify my spot in this league," Jones said. "I want to show people that not only am I an exciting player, I'm a good all-around player. That's what I'm trying to prove."
The former Barlow High School and Oregon star already is proving he belongs in the Indiana Pacers' rotation in his second season. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound guard didn't play much during his rookie season, but he has burst onto the scene with an athletic ability that is a valuable commodity in the league.
"Fred is a guy that people didn't expect much from this year," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. "He didn't get a lot of minutes last year, but he took advantage of his opportunity this season."
Jones, 24, was caught in a playing time crunch last season, when the Pacers had Jones, Reggie Miller, Ron Mercer and Jamison Brewer at the shooting guard position. Jones appeared in 19 games, averaging 1.2 points and 6.1 minutes. The Pacers traded Mercer last summer and Brewer also is gone. Jones got his chance and he hasn't looked back.
"The difference is I'm getting minutes and I have a consistent role on our team," Jones said. "Ron Mercer moved on and they thought I was ready to take over that role. They felt comfortable making that move."
The decision has proved to be a wise one. Jones has doubled his production in every major statistical category. He has appeared in 52 of the Pacers' 53 games, averaging 4.0 points and 17.3 minutes. However, his increased playing time is not a result of higher scoring; it is his defense that has caught the attention of Carlisle, a defensive-minded coach.
"He is a top-level defensive player at the 'one,' 'two' and 'three' positions ," Carlisle said. "We've had him guard Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and even Allen Iverson."
Jones said he doesn't mind being seen as a defensive specialist. If playing tough defense is what it takes to get on the court, so be it. And since the Pacers are a reflection of their coach, Jones' defensive attitude fits in well with this group.
"Right now I'm a defensive guy. I don't mind it at all," he said. "That's what I'm focused on and that's what I enjoy."
Jones knows his offensive game needs work. His perimeter shot is mediocre at best, but Carlisle said Jones has worked hard on his jump shot and that the work eventually will pay off with better offensive statistics. And he's learning from Miller, one of game's great shooters.
"My offensive game is coming day to day," Jones said. "I'm sure within the next year or at the end of this year my offensive game -- my confidence is sky high right now -- is only going to get better."
Miller, 38, is in his 17th season with the Pacers. Eventually he's going to retire and Jones looks to be his heir apparent. Jones knows that Miller isn't going to be around much longer. So he's trying to pick up everything he can from the veteran -- a master at running defenders through screens, causing fouls and, of course, making clutch jumpers -- particularly three-pointers.
Tonight, however, Jones wants to establish a different legacy as the slam-dunk champion.
Jones will oppose two-time defending champion Jason Richardson of Golden State, Chris Anderson of Denver and Ricky Davis of Boston.
Jones initially turned down the invitation to compete in the contest, saying he's more of a power dunker, not a creative one. However, after conferring with his friends -- who wanted to enjoy the weekend in Los Angeles -- he changed his mind. The soft-spoken Jones said dunking simply for the sake of impressing so-called judges isn't normally his thing.
"A dunk contest is more showmanship and playing to the crowd. That's not really my style," Jones said. "Usually, I dunk the ball and run back down the floor and try to play defense.
"Playing to the crowd is really not in my repertoire. I'm a game dunker. I get more creative in the game."
Jones said Indiana teammates -- and All-Stars -- Jermaine O'Neal and Ron Artest have already offered some suggestions for his dunks.
"I'm going to go out there waving towels and getting the crowd going for him. He better not make us look like fools," O'Neal said.