Player Review: Kareem Rush
Stats: 8.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.3 apg
Stats/36: 14.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg 2.1 apg
How did he surprise?
Kareem Rush’s 3-ball stroke has been a known quantity since his days as a Missouri Tiger. That sweet stroke wasn’t enough to keep Rush in the NBA after a falling out with the Charlotte Bobcats. After Rush served time in Europe rehabbing his image and attitude, the Pacers were able to risk very little in hopes that Kareem’s maturity would allow his NBA game to blossom. After a slow start, Rush was able to work his way into the rotation and played well enough for JOB to employ a small-ball approach against certain teams in which Rush started at the 2. When the hair-trigger stroke splashes 3-balls, it simply warms the body all over, but the biggest surprise was Rush’s ability to defend. There was a stretch of the season when Rush appeared to be the best one-on-one defender on the team. That defensive effort seemed to come and go as the season wore on, but Rush also was dealing with a nagging left hip injury and then was caught up in JOB's sporadic minutes plan where he might play 20 minutes over a five game stretch and then the next game he’s starting. But when healthy and playing consistent minutes, Rush proved he can provide more than long distance shooting for an NBA team.
How did he disappoint?
Kareem’s effort this year matched my hopes when he was acquired. His shooting was a little too streaky for my taste but his ability to knife to the hole and defend was better than expected. The biggest disappointment was his ability to adapt to different roles on the team. The role of a utility guy off the bench, filling gaps for the team, whether it be for a quick offensive boost or increasing minutes to cover for injured players, is not an easy role. And in Rush’s defense, this was probably the first time since he started playing ball that he was used in such a utility role. Still, a reliable utility player off the bench that doesn’t require several possessions to determine what to expect on a given night is invaluable. A common complaint throughout the roster is a lack of consistency from game to game and Rush fell into that category for much of the year.
The Pacers reaped a solid return on their minimal investment for Rush last summer. Growth and maturity combined with talent should keep Kareem in the L. He showed flashes of a major impact player at times and it is real easy to imagine the continued development of a solid piece for a real good team. His status with the Pacers is up in the air at best since he is no longer under contract. His playing time late in the season indicates he wasn’t meeting JOB’s expectations. It is possible that he struggled to play through his injured hip which took away the defensive effort he had shown earlier in the year. Plus, with the logjam of players at the 2/3, I don’t imagine the Pacers matching another team’s offer for Rush should a multi-year deal arise.