Indiana Pacers: The League's Top Collection of Swiss Army Knives

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

During the Pacers' victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, Lance Stephenson became the fourth Pacer in the last year to record a triple double. Each having the ability to impact the game in a variety of areas, the Pacers' starters can seemingly do it all.

In the 1890s, the Swiss Army looked to develop a multipurpose knife in order to ensure that their soldiers would always have ready access to various apparatuses (can openers, screwdrivers, etc.) in the field when most needed. Today, Swiss Army Knives come equipped with a much wider array of tools such as a main blade, smaller second blade, tweezers, corkscrew, bottle opener, reamer, pliers, nail file, flat-head screwdriver, etc. As exemplified by their versatility and multifunctionality, Swiss Army Knives are not known for simply being able to complete one type of task – they can do it all.

Right now, this seems like the best comparison for this current version of the Indiana Pacers’ starting five – they too, can do it all.

Nowhere is this analogy better embodied than by the fact that four of the five Pacers’ starters have notched triple doubles in the past calendar year alone:

November 21, 2012: New Orleans @ Indiana (W: 115-107)

Roy Hibbert records 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 blocks

January 12, 2013: Charlotte @ Indiana (W: 103-76)

David West records 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists

February 13, 2013: Charlotte @ Indiana (W: 101-77)

Paul George records 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists

April 21,  2013: Atlanta @ Indiana, Playoffs (W: 107-90)

Paul George records 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists

November, 11, 2013: Memphis @ Indiana (W: 95-79)

Lance Stephenson records 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists

(* Mark Montieth, from Pacers.com, notes that all five starters would have recorded triple doubles in the past year, "if the NBA's video police hadn't taken an assist away from George Hill last season after he had appeared to have achieved one.")

After Paul George recorded his first playoff triple against the Atlanta Hawks last May, he was asked in the post-game press conference how much he values being a "well-rounded" player, he responded:

"I really value that. I do not want to be labeled as a ‘scorer’ or ‘defender.’ I want to be a ball player."

George is right – they should all strive to be described as "ball players." They can all impact the game in a variety of areas that cannot be narrowly defined. It is not possible to define Paul George as just a scorer. Should Roy Hibbert just be viewed as a shot blocker (although he is leading the league at 4.38 blockers per game)? Should Lance Stephenson only be known for his ability to put up points (although he is New York’s all-time leading scorer in high school basketball)? Is David West just an effective midrange jump shooter?

No. They should be viewed as Swiss Army Knives. Always on the ready to deliver with what their team needs most at any given moment. Be it tangibles like points, rebounds, blocks, and assists; or intangibles such as leadership, energy, or poise.

Indisputably, Lance Stephenson was ready to deliver against the Grizzlies on Monday night. In a single outing, he shot the ball well (60% from three point range), facilitated with ease (recorded a career high 12 assists), and crashed the boards (corralling 11 rebounds). He officially earned membership in the Pacers’ elite club by becoming the fourth starter to record a triple double. According to Montieth, Paul George even joked, "He’s part of us now."

However, what is equally impressive to Stephenson earning his triple double membership card is that each of the aforesaid triple double performances resulted in a "W" for the Pacers – the most important stat of all, the stat achieved through the collective efforts of a team. Like Lance Stephenson stated after the game, "I am proud of myself, but I am proud of my teammates, because we are playing together as a unit."

When the Pacers "play together as a unit" they are no doubt a formidable foe. At any given moment, Frank Vogel has a dominant starting unit complete with individuals that each possess diverse skill sets ready to go at his disposal. They come equipped with four (let’s call it five) players that can stuff a stat sheet in a variety areas. They are versatile, multifunctional "ball players." At a current mark of 8-0, they are the league’s finest collection of Swiss Army Knives – they can do it all.

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