Indiana Pacers 2011-2012 Player Reviews

I had intended to review each player separately, but the imminence of the upcoming 2012-2013 season combined with my laziness has made this an impossible endeavor. So here’s my condensed version of the Indiana Pacers player reviews for the 2011-2012 season.

Danny Granger

2011-2012 season averages: 62 games, 18.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 41.6% FG, 38.1% 3P, 87.3% FT

Granger, a notoriously slow starter in the NBA, had a horrible start to the season (last in the league in FG% for quite a while) before redeeming himself a some extent as the season progressed. He blamed the slow start on the lockout (suggesting he took it easy) and the fact that he wasn’t used to playing with so many good players on the same team. It ended up hurting Granger’s numbers overall, as he stumbled to the worst shooting percentage of his career. On the bright side, he did become a more focused defender and passer, even though the numbers don’t necessarily show it.

In the playoffs, Granger took it upon himself to get in people’s faces (especially that of Miami players) and got a lot of support and criticism for it, but ultimately he didn’t quite get it done when it mattered in the end, getting thoroughly outplayed by Lebron (his goal would have simply been to take the “thoroughly” out of that sentence).

As a whole, Granger underperformed, largely in part due to his slow start. His numbers took another step back this season but it’s more indicative of the improvement of his teammates as opposed to a noticeable decline in skill and ability. It’s becoming more certain that Granger will be a one-and-done All Star and is not suited to be the number one option on a contending team. That said, he remains the team’s most potent scorer until Roy Hibbert and Paul George can prove otherwise.

Grade: B-

Roy Hibbert

2011-2012 season averages: 65 games, 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.0 blocks, 49.7% FG, 71.1% FT

Hibbert’s career took off last season. He was named an All-Star and got votes for Most Improved Player. He was more consistent under coach Frank Vogel than he was in the Jim O’Brien years. And yet, his numbers don’t really scream out at you. In fact, he only averaged 0.1 points than he did the year before, and some say he only rose to prominence in the East due Dwight Howard’s injuries. Some critics say Hibbert is overrated; most agree that he wasn’t worth the massive contract he got during the offseason.

Watching Hibbert’s on-court performance this year, however, it is clear that he has improved. He is less foul prone and takes better shots. He freaks out less. His confidence appears to be up and doesn’t take as many dips as it used to. His rebounding improved. But my fear is that he is already nearing his peak and that future improvements will only be minor.

In the playoffs, he was supposed to destroy the Howard-less Magic but underperformed. Against the Heat, he had good games and bad. It’s still unclear to me what kind of player Hibbert will end up becoming. So far, consistency, fouls and fatigue remain his biggest problems. Hibbert has never averaged more than 30 minutes a game in his career, but if he can use that fat new contract as motivation and work on this weaknesses he does have a chance to challenge Andrew Bynum as the East’s best traditional big man (especially if Bynum’s health and attitude remain issues).

Hibbert has also been great in the community, but I’m not taking that into account in his player assessment.

Grade: B+

David West

2011-2012 season averages: 66 games, 12.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 48.8% FG, 80.7% FT

It’s no secret that I love David West. His numbers are not as great as they were in New Orleans, but they’re not bad for a 32-year-old coming off ACL surgery in the first year of a brand new team stacked with decent players.

As the season progressed, it became clear that West is the team’s unequivocal leader. He’s the type of player that demands respect from teammates and the type of guy other teams don’t want to mess with. After spending all of last summer rehabbing as opposed to conditioning, West didn’t get his legs back until at least mid-way through the season, but when he did, we often got to see glimpses of his “beast mode.”

I’m looking forward to a lot more that this year, and I hope the Pacers find a way of re-signing him after his two-year contract expires at the end of the season.

Grade: A-

Paul George

2011-2012 season averages: 66 games, 12.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 44% FG, 38.5% 3P, 80.2% FT

It’s been said since his rookie season that Paul George is destined to be a star in the NBA. Last season was a step forward in the right direction. He reportdely grew a couple of inches to 6’10”, becoming most freakishly long and athletic shooting guard in the league. He took a lot of strides in just about every department, including 3P shooting, passing, defense and rebounding. And yet some people remain dissatisfied with his progress, thinking he should have improved more.

He does have ample room for improvement, which is great news. He can become a far more dangerous slasher if he improves his ball handling (which he has supposedly worked on this offseason) and finishing in traffic around the rim. He can become a great defender if he just stops leaving his feet for those pump fakes and taking unnecessary risks. His decision making will get better with time and experience. Really, there isn’t much to dislike about George and his silky smooth game. He is going to be a big factor in how far the Pacers can go in the next few years.

Grade: B+

George Hill

2011-2012 season averages: 50 games, 9.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 44.2% FG, 36.7% 3P, 77.8% FT

Hill missed 16 games last season and yet still took over Darren Collison’s starting PG spot by the end of the year. Team management also decided to keep him and let Collison go during the offseason — that’s a pretty big endorsement for a guy who didn’t really put up amazing numbers and isn’t a traditional pass-first point guard. Much of it has to do with that 7-game winning streak the team put together when he took over the injured Collison’s starting spot at the end of the season.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Hill’s game. You wouldn’t say he is particularly great at any particular thing, but you just have to concede that the guy can flat out ball. His energy, pure stroke and calmer decision-making, especially in crunch time, make him a solid choice at the starting PG position for the franchise moving forward. His pre-season hip injury remains a concern but I can see him putting up improved numbers across the board this season.

Grade: B

Darren Collison

2011-2012 season averages: 60 games, 10.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 43.8% FG, 36.2% 3P, 83% FT

Collison began the season as the franchise’s PG of the future but will begin the upcoming season in Dallas. It’s not that he played poorly, but the diminuitive point guard simply never lived up to expectations after he was traded from New Orleans. Collison showed flashes of brilliance, powered by his dazzling speed, and improved significantly on defense, where he was a huge liability before. But his size remained a problem as well as his hesitant decision-making in tight games. Coupled with George Hill’s rise, it became obvious that Collison no longer belonged in Indiana.

I was one of those people that was sad to see Collison go this offseason. I loved his fearlessness and his court vision– when he decided to pass instead of shoot, though this is unfortunately rare last season. I’m beginning to think that the Pacers’ offense simply isn’t very good for a PG’s passing numbers.

Grade: B-

Tyler Hansbrough

2011-2012 season averages: 66 games, 9.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 40.8% FG, 81.3% FT

Even Hansbrough’s biggest supporters will admit that the former Tarheel was unbearable to watch at times last season. He was like one of those crazy guys you might meet on the playground, someone with an ugly game that somehow got to all the loose balls and looked really awkward and shot the ball every time he got it without even contemplating passing it to teammates. I’m still stunned that he managed to average 0.5 assists last season.

And so, despite playing almost the same number of minutes last season, Hansbrough took a massive step backwards. His confidence was dry and playing behind a seasoned veteran like David West certainly didn’t help. The truth is, Hansbrough will always be the same player — an undersized PF who hustles and can hit mid-range shots when he is confident, but isn’t a great rebounder or a solid defender. When he doesn’t have the confidence, however, he is horrible to watch. 

Grade: C-

Dahntay Jones

2011-2012 season averages: 65 games, 5.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1 assist, 40.7% FG, 42.9% 3P, 83.8% FT

Dahntay will always be Dahntay and he was all Dahntay last season for the Pacers, if you know what I mean. He was a good defender against average offensive players but could never match up with the speed, quickness, strength or size of the elite. He took bad shots but was still athletic enough to finish on the break. I will miss his professionalism but not his game, though now he has been shipped off to Dallas I am starting to think he’s not such a bad kind of player to have around. That is all.

Grade: C

Leandro Barbosa

2011-2012 season averages: 22 games, 8.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 39.9% FG, 42.4% 3P, 75.8% FT

People are acting like Barbosa’s horrible round 2 performance against Miami meant he served no purpose at all on the Pacers. And that’s just not true.

As a late season addition, Barbosa was often the offensive spark the team needed off the bench, and I attribute a lot of the team’s late surge to his wily veteran moves and willingness to take the big shot. Sure, he was not much of a defender (never has and never will be), but he was in integral part of the bench offense — just imagine how much more abysmal it would have been without him. ‘

I really wanted the Pacers to re-sign him if he was available at the right price (I mean, what if Gerald Green gets injured?), but it appears that he was never meant to be anything more than a short term rental.
Grade: B-

Lou Amundson

2011-2012 season averages: 60 games, 3.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 43.2% FG, 42.7% FT

The porn star lookalike gave his best Jeff Foster impersonation for the Pacers last season, but it wasn’t enough to keep him on the squad for another year. It’s unfortunate, but after drafting Miles Plumlee,the Pacers already had too many undersized white hustle guys on the team (plus Jeff Pendergraph).

The general consensus on Amundson is that he did his best trying to pretend to be a center in the NBA. With the injury to Jeff Foster and the absence of a true center to back up Roy Hibbert, Amundson should be commended for the effort he gave. I recall at one stage commentators were suggesting that the Pacers would be crazy to not re-sign him.

But in the end, he was still undersized and couldn’t score except on tip ins and wide open shots at the rim, plus he couldn’t hit foul shots. I will miss his effort though.

Grade: B

AJ Price

2011-2012 season averages: 44 games, 3.9 points, 1.4 rebounds, 2 assists, 33.9% FG, 29.5% 3P, 80% FT

AJ Price has been lighting up the preseason for the Washington Wizards in place of injued John Wall, but he never got much court time for the Pacers, averaging just 12.9 points last season.

He is a second round pick who has been solid as a third-string point guard and  has contributed in some games, but his horrible shooting percentage this past year didn’t help his cause in getting a new contract.

Grade: C
Lance Stephenson

2011-2012 season averages: 42 games, 2.5 points, 1.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 37.6% FG, 13.3% 3P, 47.1% FT

Born Ready still isn’t ready. Lance will probably be best remembered for unleashing the choke sign on Lebron in game 3 of the second round against Miami, after which the Pacers didn’t win another game. He was also elbowed in the throat by Dexter Pittman in game 5.

This guy is supposed to be really really good, or at least capable of it, but so far I have only seen the tiniest glimpses of his so-called potential in his 2 NBA seasons. His best game came in the final regular season game, where he scored 22 on 10-15 shooting in a loss to the Bulls. We’ll need to see more of the same this season or his time in Indiana might come to an end.

Grade: D

Jeff Foster

2011-2012 season averages: 11 games, 2.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 50% FG, 66.7% FT

It’s a true shame that one of Indiana’s best-loved players had to retire mid-season to injury, but Jeff Foster gave all he had to the Pacers for 13 seasons. I won’t have a bad word to say about him here.

Grade: Irrelevant

Jeff Pendergraph

2011-2012 season averages: 20 games, 1.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, 41.7% FG, 57.1% FT

I don’t quite understand why Pendergraph, who is no doubt a good athlete and hustle player, has managed to stay on the Pacers this offseason. He’s not horrible but at most he is just a serviceable hustle man. Apparently, after spending the offseason working his tail off he is now more of an NBA player. I have no idea if that means he will be any good this season.

Grade: D

Kyrylo Fesenko

2011-2012 season averages: 3 games, 2.7 points, 3 rebounds, 40% FG, 66.7% FT

Without a doubt should have been last season’s MVP.

Grade: A+