Sometimes you need to vent. Fourteen games in and the Pacers have undeniably shown more good than bad so far in their 2011-2012 campaign. Yet, even after 10 wins, and even after a thrilling finish last night in Oakland that went in the Pacers' favor, I find myself frustrated. Frustrated is the sentiment, mostly because there are bad habits (particularly on the offensive end) that players continue to exhibit that don't seem to have ever been addressed by fellow teammates and/or coaching. As usual, leave it to the fans to enlighten the seemingly blind, or, in this case, a fan. My sure-to-be-impressive resume? A 27-second stint on the eighth-grade basketball team that included possibly the most efficient dribbling-out-of-the-clock routine one may have ever had the pleasure to witness.
After the jump, a plea to Coach Vogel, Larry Bird, Danny Granger, or any relevant individual associated with the Pacers who wields the power to change...
As a team, the Indiana Pacers shoot 41.5% from the field, bad enough for 27th in the league. If given the time, I'm positive Indycornrow's statistical savant, Ian Levy, could pinpoint exactly the how, when, where, and why the offensive breakdowns occur. And we'd all listen, because Ian knows his stuff, and he knows exactly how to explain/describe complicated concepts in a way that a statistical illiterate (such as myself) can comprehend. Count me as one, however, who doesn't view the failures on offense as all that much of a mystery. Simply watch and you will see. There are certain cringe-worthy situations on offense that once they begin, I automatically begin mentally prepping myself for a lost possession. There are three to be exact, and here they are through the eyes of one lowly fan:
David West Post on the Left Low Block (facing the ball handler)
David West is not what I'd call a natural post player. What seems to make him even more unnatural are his post attempts on the left low block. What usually occurs here is West, using his left hand, dribbles into the defender. His strength usually backs down the defender in a sufficient way, but when it comes time to make a move, three things usually occur: 1. West hooks his defender with the right elbow that many times elicits an offensive foul, or 2. West gets away with the hook, and wildly attempts a left-handed something that is either easily blocked or badly missed, or 3. West's weak dribbling hand is easily stripped in the lane by converging defenders leading to a turnover. My plea: keep West on the right block in post situations. Even more preferably, keep him in situations that allow him to face-up/pick-and-pop.
Danny Granger/Paul George Isolations
Danny Granger and Paul George are not what I'd call natural ball handlers. What seems to make them even more unnatural are attempts to make them playmakers in an iso situation. In such situations, scoring points is an afterthought. Instead, I often find myself wondering what play would elicit the higher percentage of lost possessions/turnovers per occurrence: Granger's inevitable push off with either hand, or Geroge's uncontrolled barreling in the lane. My pleas: 1. Keep Granger spotting up for jumpshots, or keep him in the post where dribbling is at a protective premium. Seriously consider banning dribble drives from his game altogether. 2. Allow George two dribble drives for development purposes. Otherwise? Spot him up or have him be a cutter.
Danny Granger/Paul George Fastbreaks
Believe me, I wish I was done with them as well. It's well-documented the Pacers are one the league's finest defensive teams early in the season. One area it particularly excels at is taking the ball away from the opposition. The Pacers average 9.4 steals per game, good enough for 6th in the league. The problem? Granger and George comprise two of the team's most effective thieves, which also means they lead a lot of fastbreaks. It's often a torturous process to watch: no matter if it's a two-one-one, three-on-one, or even a four-on-one fastbreak, Granger or George bust out the tunnel vision and decide to go right at the defender. Charges occur. Missed layups occur. Bad shots occur. Right now, this is easily my most dreaded offensive situation on the team. My plea: Basketball 101: on a fastbreak put the ball in your best playmaker's hand (Collison, Hill, Stephenson) in order to elicit a confident and effective decision.
Roy Hibbert's Reverse Layup
This used to easily win my "most dreaded offensive play" award. To Hibbert's credit this season, he's really cut down on his attempts to extend his spider-like arm under the basket for two. Fears were reawakened, however, when he attempted to do so against the Kings, and was quickly blocked by what seemed like twenty different arms.
Dahntay Jones' Offense Initiation
Dahntay gets a pass from being featured on the themed list since his offensive involvement played a huge role in the win against Golden St. Other fans I'm sure won't be so kind.