After a couple of days of technical issues, we're back...hopefully for good. Since the dust has settled on the season and I'm back in blogging mode, I thought I'd take a sober look back at the roster. First up, late season addition, Flip Murray.
Player Review: Flip Murray
Stats: 11.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.2 apg
Stats/36 min: 17.4ppg, 3.2 rpg, 5.5 apg
How did he surprise?
The acquisition of Flip Murray was a surprise at the time. The Pacers were on the tail end of a brutal stretch of the schedule which, combined with key injuries, appeared to have ruined any playoff chances. Jamaal Tinsley’s lingering injury made the chances of his return remote so the Pacers were short at PG. Instead of working through the rest of the season giving bench players more minutes and relying on Andre Owens and Travis Diener to handle PG duties, the Pacers brought in Flip. While not being a true point guard, Flip has bona fide NBA talent for scoring. He quickly showed us that he could create his own shot, whether getting to the rim or hitting a pull-up jumper. While he wasn’t consistent every night, he did provide a far greater boost to the offense than I expected. The little wiggle he uses to keep defenders off-balance and create space to score is nothing short of sweet. While his game isn’t complete, the NBA-level parts of his game really helped the Pacers late season push for a playoff spot.
How did he disappoint?
Flip outperformed my initial expectation because it was known that he’s not a true point guard, so when those flawed areas of his game were exposed the only thing to say was, well, that’s why he was available. Ball handling errors are always aggravating and coughing up turnovers is frustrating regardless of the expectations. Flip seemed to be a little streaky with his handle and when it was bad it was really bad and he was often on the bench. In fact, Jim O’Brien found success by starting Flip, letting him get his offensively early in the game and then using Travis Diener for the bulk of the second half when the value of each possession was magnified.
Flip was a hired gun to finish out the year so his return depends on which direction Larry Bird takes the team in the offseason. Point guard is a critical issue with the team right now. Travis Diener has shown he can offer solid minutes off the bench. Depending on the price, there’s definitely a role for Flip’s skills on the Pacers, preferably as a situational scorer off the bench. Offense becomes a little stagnant? Go get some Flip. But Flip’s days as the starting point guard for the Pacers should be over. There’s no doubt Flip’s acquisition was a net positive this year for both parties. Flip played a big role in several Ws for the Pacers and his play exposed to the rest of the league that there is a place in the L for Flip’s talent. Whether that place is in Indiana next year will be determined this summer.