The Pacers starting five was dominant last season and are playing well again this season – they are outscoring opponents by 13.1 points per 100 possessions, the sixth best lineup in the NBA minimum 100 minutes.
First off, no unit besides the starting five has appeared in more than 16 games, or played over 75 minutes. (The starters have played 637 minutes in 32 games together.)
The Pacers most effective lineup on the season has been Stephenson, George and Hibbert joined by C.J. Watson and Luis Scola. That unit is scoring 133.3 points per 100 possessions, and outscoring opponents by 39.3 points per 100 possessions. This lineup has been used in 16 games, but for just 47 minutes.
If you replace Watson with Hill, the offensive rating jumps up to 143.9, but the defensive rating climbs as well, and that unit outscores opponents by 36.4 points per 100 possessions.
With these two lineups, Scola is the key difference from last season. His offensive presence off of the bench was an acquisition that was supposed to fix the bench problems, and offensively, he has been a huge step in the right direction.
To be fair, last year’s starters with Tyler Hansbrough replacing West, outscored opponents by 21 points per 100 possessions, but their offensive rating was 107.4.
The Pacers worst lineup this season? Hill, George, Danny Granger, West and Hibbert. It has only been used for 25 minutes in seven games, but it has been outscored by 59.4 points per 100 possessions. Their offensive rating is 64.2. Their effective field goal percentage is 28.8 percent.
It is one of four Pacer lineups that has a rebounding percentage under 50, and is the only of those four that includes the seven-footer, Roy Hibbert.
Had Granger been healthy to start the season, maybe it would have been a mistake to start him instead of Stephenson.
Also, all of the concerns about Granger and George playing together may have some truth behind them. In 128 minutes with those two on the floor together, the Pacers have been outscored by 6.7 points per 100 possessions. The offense is the problem as the offensive rating is 82.8, while the defensive rating is 89.6.
Granger is the best wing off of the bench, and suggesting someone like Rasual Butler should get more minutes over Granger is silly, but the Granger-George pairing hasn’t been effective.
The best overall two-man unit is Granger and Stephenson. The Pacers have outscored opponents by 24.5 points per 100 possessions in 114 minutes with that duo on the court.
In fact the top four defensive duos all include Granger. He is a part of eight different pairs that hold opponents to less than 90 points per 100 possessions.
Defense is where Granger could be the most useful to this team in the playoffs. Not only is Granger another big wing that Vogel can put on LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, but he can play a high level of defense and give George and Stephenson breaks.
There is a look at some of the Pacer lineups 43.9 percent of the way through the season, mainly focusing on Scola and Granger’s impact, which is supposed to be the difference in winning and losing the Eastern Conference.
Stats courtesy of NBA.com