After a little post-season breather, it's time to officially wrap up the 2008-09 Pacers season with player reviews. I plan to go through most of the roster and give my thoughts on how each player impressed and disappointed along with future expectations for the player. I encourage you to share your thoughts, as well.
#8 / Center / Indiana Pacers
May 30, 1976
How did Rasho impress?
Rasho Nesterovic knows how to play basketball and he will forever have my respect for his understanding of ball movement, passing angles, as well as his ability to knock down the open 15-footer.
Rasho arrived in Indy via the J.O. trade last summer and at the time I couldn't get past his expiring contract when considering what value he might bring to the Pacers. As a journeyman role player, I didn't know much about his game other than that he was a serviceable big man who could provide an offensive boost.
I soon realized that the subtleties in Rasho's game add up to a valuable big, especially in a system reliant on ball and player movement. Working in the half court from the hig post, Rasho must be accounted for or he will punish you with the
jumper setter or by setting up a teammate with a pass.
Early in the year, Rasho earned a starting spot and key role in the playing rotation. There was even talk about (not crazy talk, serious talk) about re-signing Rasho this summer because he was better than expected and could play a key role in Jim O'Brien's system.
How did Rasho dissapoint?
As the season unfolded, Rasho's production and and opportunities subsided due to a few factors. First, Rasho sprained his ankle early in the season against the Boston Celtics and while he's not the fleetest of foot when 100 percent healthy, the nagging ankle injury really slowed him down.
The ankle injury led to more minutes than expected for rookie Roy Hibbert early in the season. Hibbert's play fluctuated but showed varied rates of improvement when given the opportunity. Finally, the combination of Hibbert's decent play and a heavy dose of losses before Christmas made it more reasonable for JOB to limit Rasho's minutes to give Hibbert more experience.
Also, Rasho wore down as the season progressed. I don't know if it was the nagging ankle and knee pains or the mileage from 11 years in the league. Actually, that's a chicken or the egg argument, but the bottom line is Rasho didn't have the same flow to his game (yeah, even Rasho can have some flow) in the limited minutes late in the season.
Rasho's future is unknown at this time, although if he plays in the NBA next year it won't be in a Pacers uniform. His status with the Pacers has gone full circle from expiring contract to fabulously-fun-to-watch big man and back to expiring contract. The Pacers will unload Rasho's $8.4 million from the salary cap free and clear with no strings attached. Remember, that's a little less than a third of Jermaine O'Neal's contract next year which the Pacers were able to break into parts with the Toronto trade. So, while Rasho's tenure as a Pacers was brief he should always be remembered fondly for the skill he displayed and effort he to help the Pacers begin transitioning into a new era.
|2008 - Rasho Nesterovic||70||17.3||3.2||6.2||51.3||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.4||0.5||78.1||1.3||2.1||3.4||1.6||0.9||0.4||0.5||2.4||6.8|