Player Review: Ike Diogu
Stats: 5.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 0.3 apg
Stats/36: 19.8 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 1.2 apg
How did he surprise?
Three games into the 2007-08 season, Ike Diogu looked like the lethal weapon off the bench that the Pacers hoped they had pilfered from Golden State. He scored in double figures and played more than 20 minutes in all three wins to open the season. Then Ike tore a calf muscle in practice which shelved him for 23 games.
After starting the season 3-0, the Pacers lost six straight games after Ike went down and some people actually pointed to his absence as a factor. Obviously a stretch, but it emphasizes how well Ike was playing at the time. Ike was never able to work his way back into the playing rotation on a consistent basis, but did show he can produce offensively as his Per36 numbers show.
Though an undersized big, Ike has plenty of interior moves along with long arms that make him an offensive threat. Plus, Ike's an excellent free throw shooter, so his ability to pump fake and draw fouls is another plus in his game. Though his minutes were sporadic at best throughout the last half of the season, Ike always gave a great effort when his number was called.
How did he disappoint?
After returning from the initial calf injury, Ike was unable to get his game in sync. Many times he appeared to be pressing, trying to do too much instead of playing within the flow of the game. You could tell he's thinking way too much instead of just playing. That would invariably lead to forced shots and bad possessions which compounded his tendency to press. While Ike's offense remained his best asset, his defensive liabilities probably kept him anchored to the bench. He could probably become a decent system defender with the right front court defenders around him, but with Jermaine O'Neal on the shelf, the Pacers didn't have many players to keep Ike from being exposed.
I still think Ike can be a solid option off the bench and giving up on him after this year just isn't fair. After missing so many games, Ike didn't have the opportunity to play through his struggles. JOB was scratching and clawing for W's so he didn't have the luxury of patience to offer Ike, so instead he could only give him rare minutes in small spurts.
Ike is under contract for next year at a relatively low number so I expect him to return. Of course, he could just as easily be part of an offseason deal. Either way, Ike needs to make the most of this summer to keep working on his game with an emphasis on strength and defensive focus so he when given the opportunity he can deliver the goods at both ends of the floor.