The Indiana Pacers did pick up D.J. Augustin in the offseason, right? I keep having to check back to verify the transaction because when anyone at the Fieldhouse talks about the Pacers new backup point guard, I'd swear they signed Chris Paul.
"When D.J. is on the court the ball is moving," coach Frank Vogel said. "He makes great decisions with the basketball but is a laser three-point shooter, so if you help off of him at all he'll burn you and that just frees things up for the other guys out there, as well."
Augustin may have lit it up in preseason play at the Fieldhouse but "laser 3-point shooter" may be a little strong. Augustin was pretty average from behind the arc last season, shooting 34% in the miserable, short season with the Bobcats. But, hey, you're only as good as your last shot, so maybe Augustin made the last 3-ball Vogel saw in person.
Or maybe last season's poor shooting was more a reflection of the mess in Charlotte and what amounted to a lost season for Augustin and his teammates.
In his rookie season, Augustin was among the top ten 3-point shooters at 43.9%, then dropped just outside the top 20 his sophomore season at 39.3%. That 3-point percentage dipped to 33.3% in his third year while the number of attempts jumped. More shots can mean more bad shots, so an emphasis on quality looks from behind the arc may do the trick
As for his other point guard qualities, Augustin's handle and passing ability are NBA starter quality but last season's 16.9 turnover rate was a step in the wrong direction and more comparable to what we saw from Darren Collison. But that hefty number lifted his career turnover rate to 13.9 which is a bit higher than, Chris Paul's 13.0 career turnover percent.
But Roy Hibbert knows Augustin brings a different dimension to the Pacers backcourt compared to Darren Collison. When asked if the new point guard brought anything to the team that had been missing, Hibbert simply let out a "you have no idea" laugh that said more than the words that followed.
"D.J. can really penetrate and kick out, Hibbert said. "That's a thing that he really does well is give the illusion that he's about to score in the paint but then also find open guys on the perimeter. Seriously, I've never seen somebody have as good of handles as him. So I think he can do a lot of good things for us and he's a tremendous player."
Despite his teammates and coach making him sound like the best player on the team, Augustin remains a reserve point guard no other NBA team was willing to commit to with a multi-year contract and spot in the starting lineup. That's a fact just like his turnover rate.
While I may be splashing a little reality on the Augustin fire, I do happen to believe he's capable of starting in the league and the move to add him to the roster was certainly an exceptional offseason acquisition. The ultimate buy low situation coming off a miserable season on arguably the worst team in NBA history.
Vogel did compare Augustin to a new and improved A.J. Price with his true point guard instincts and ability to keep the ball and offense flowing compared to a Darren Collison or T.J. Ford who seemed more comfortable using the ball as opposed to moving the ball. Now that seems like a fair comparison.
Plus, he should be motivated on a few levels. First, he's playing on a one-year contract and needs to perform for his next deal while also trying to show he's better than the point guard that "led" the worst team in the NBA. Plus, he's now on a playoff team and playing a big role on a playoff team is a vast improvement from his situation in Charlotte.
So I understand why the Pacers, and especially their playmakers, are happy to add Augustin to the mix this year and he may turn out to be exactly what the Pacers needed to take another step up in the East. After all he's done it before in his career. But first Augustin will have to prove it on the court and show he's moved past his flame out in Charlotte. Then we can start to believe the hype.