Preseason player rankings are starting to roll out and SI's Point Forward is in the midst of revealing their Top 100 players as we look ahead to the 2013-14 NBA season. So far Rob Mahoney and Ben Golliver have delivered players 100-21 which include five Pacers.
Roy Hibbert heads the list for the Pacers at No. 23, with his offensive game keeping him from landing higher on the list, according to Mahoney.
His size is a huge advantage that enables him to generate easy points. But he scores on only 42.4 percent of his shot attempts in the post (a number that doesn't stack up well with the NBA's better post-up big men), according to Synergy Sports, and earns a foul on just 6.2 percent of his post-up possessions. Hibbert is simply too big to get the benefit of the doubt on many potential foul calls and too good a free-throw shooter (72.9 percent for his five-year career) for opponents to wrap up intentionally. That means fewer trips to the line than one might think, leaving his offensive game to hinge on underwhelming shooting numbers.
Hibbert is still clearly valuable, particularly to a team as well-balanced as the Pacers. But he's not an offensive superstar, no matter his throwback appeal as an archetypal, low-post center.
Paul George is close behind Hibbert at No. 25 and also needs to refine that offensive game to reach true star level.
George augments his defensive talents with a knack for rebounding. Only a handful of wing players grabbed a greater percentage of available boards last season. That skill, coupled with a career-high 4.1 assists per game, is where I suspect the claims of traditional stardom begin to materialize. George does appear to do it all when gauged on a very basic statistical level, and he passes the eye test as a hyper-athletic wing with obvious talent. But it doesn't take much to see that he's still far more suited for a supporting role right now, having only managed to surpass 40 percent shooting from the field because of off-ball action (cuts, offensive boards, hand-offs) and transition opportunities. His all-around game makes him a star all the same, but he's a world (or a few seasons of development) removed from the style of other wing creators.
The remaining Pacers on the list included David West at No. 31, Danny Granger at No. 72 and George Hill at No. 79. The great thing about looking over this list and reading the solid and sober analysis of each player is that it further emphasizes that the Pacers are still ascending with some key talent still on the rise.
Also, last night I spent some time discussing the Eastern Conference with Phil Naessens, ranking the top eight teams I expect to make the playoffs. This is an interesting year with some up and coming teams in the mix with Detroit, Washington and Cleveland. I feel like Indiana and Chicago should have a good chance to make a regular season run at the top spot in the East but had to give Miami their due until I see otherwise. Check it out at Phil's site or listen below.
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