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Kravitz: offseason upgrades to bench were no upgrades
Kravitz: offseason upgrades to bench were no upgrades
Nothing but the obvious stated here.
There are times when I watch Gerald Green play that I am shocked at how terrible a basketball player he really is. He has no clue how to play. Sure he is a great athlete and a pretty good shooter, but everything else he is horrible. I have trouble watching him
The NBA trading deadline is months away, but already, it’s time for Indiana Pacers bosses Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard to work on bringing in reinforcements.
The reason is simple: With this bench, the Pacers aren’t going to get out of the first round of the playoffs — assuming they even reach the playoffs.
After Wednesday night’s 96-81 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Pacers’ bench has now been outscored in 16 of 22 games — it was 35-21 Cavs subs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse — and has shown no signs it is going to get out of this funk.
Coming into the game, the Pacers ranked 28th in the league in plus-minus ratings, and 24th in bench scoring at 26.9 points per game.
It’s gotten so bad, coach Frank Vogel already has made one change — Ben Hansbrough replacing the startlingly inept D.J. Augustin at backup point guard — and he’s ready to make more moves if the bench doesn’t start to produce.
And you’d better believe that Vogel is already in Walsh’s and Pritchard’s ear about making some moves down the line. He sees what we all see. This team lacks depth, and that’s a bad thing, especially when your starting center, Roy Hibbert, is having a gruesome year offensively. It’s also forcing him to use his starters for more minutes in an effort to hide the bench.
The early returns on Walsh’s and Pritchard’s initial moves have not been good.
And that’s surprising, because on paper, the additions of Augustin and Gerald Green looked like they were going to make the Pacers’ bench more formidable.
Augustin started for Charlotte and averaged 11.1 points and 6.4 assists per game.
Green, who has been around the world and around the league, had a coming-out party last year, averaging 12.9 points in 25 minutes per game for the New Jersey Nets.
But Augustin has been a giant mystery of Loch Ness-ian proportions. Even the coaches can’t figure out what happened to a guy who looked like a starter for most teams. He has been miserable defensively, and offensively, he can’t shoot (27 percent from the field) and rarely penetrates the paint to create shots for others.
Darren Collison, anybody?
The Pacers traded Collison in large measure because they feared he would go into the tank as a backup to George Hill. They had every reason to believe Augustin would be a suitable replacement, if not a minor upgrade. Instead, he has been a disaster.
Green? He has been so-so, and was particularly awful Wednesday night, making 1-of-8 shots and committing three turnovers. He shows occasional flashes, but for the most part, he’s a great athlete who doesn’t quite know how to play basketball.
The Pacers fell in love with his athleticism, but his hoops IQ is limited. After a nice season in Jersey, he’s averaging just 7.1 points per game in 21 minutes and shooting just 38 percent from the field.
Leandro Barbosa, anybody?
I was confused why they let Barbosa walk. Sure, he was unproductive in the Miami series, but so were a lot of people. During the regular season, though, he was one of the few Pacers bench players who could create his own shot. Now look at this bench and tell me: Who can do the same thing?
At least Ian Mahinmi has been a nice upgrade over Lou Amundson. No complaints about him. Except maybe that most of his tweets are in French. And I don’t speak French.
And then there’s Tyler Hansbrough, whose minutes are going to get cut if he doesn’t start showing a bit more offensive flair.
“We’ve got to start looking for minutes for Jeff (Pendergraph),’’ Vogel said. “And our rookies (Miles Plumlee and Orlando Johnson) are starting to come along.’’
Hansbrough simply hasn’t improved since his second year. He still plays hard, still gets rebounds and defends, but he has no low-post moves and isn’t hitting that 15-foot jumper he was making with such alacrity his second season in the league. He came into the Cleveland game averaging 5.9 points and shooting 38 percent from the field.
“We knew changing our bench didn’t necessarily mean improvement,’’ Vogel said. “Obviously, we hoped for it, but remember, last year’s bench wasn’t succeeding at a high level, either, which was why we made all those changes. I’ve just got to keep challenging them to be better, and I’ve got to find a way to use them better.’’
Eventually (we think), Danny Granger will return, which will not only empower the starting unit, but allow Lance Stephenson to return to the second unit. Stephenson has had a nice year and will be a good addition at the two-guard. Just don’t look for him to play the point.
By then, they either need Ben Hansbrough to turn into Jeremy Lin, or they need Augustin to rediscover his game.
Or they need to make a deal.
Preferably, and necessarily, the latter.
Bob Kravitz is a columnist for The Indianapolis Star. Call him at (317) 444-6643 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow Bob on Twitter at @bkravitz.
Last edited by BillS; 12-13-2012 at 09:53 AM.