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Josh McRoberts, Paul George Trying To Hustle Their Way Onto The Court For Pacers

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Young players have to earn Jim O'Brien's trust before the Indiana Pacers coach fits them into the playing rotation.

Last season, Josh McRoberts showed flashes of good play off the bench, but his game never reached the level of trust JOB needed to give him consistent minute.

Apparently that has changed since training camp started.

With an open starting spot available at power forward, J-Mac has seized the opportunity thus far and Jim O'Brien is all in. Michael Grady posted some nice audio (scroll down, on right)  from practice yesterday with Lance Stephenson and Jim O'Brien talking defense and the power forward position. On the ladder the coach was effusive in his praise of McRoberts.

"If we were playing a game tonight, Josh McRoberts would be at the power forward for 36 minutes,"  JOB told MG.

Wow!  Those certainly aren't irrelevant minutes. JOB went on to say McRoberts been the best player on the court at times and not because of any scoring but because of the things JOB wants him to do: communicating on defense, trying to rebound every shot, not turning the ball over and running the court.

"We keep hustle stats which are deflections, charges, offensive rebounds and in the first three days," JOB explained. "Not counting today Paul George had 36, Josh had 31 and nobody else had over 15 so that translates into extra possession and I don't care if you're a rookie or what position you play, those kind of stats, they don't lie. If you're being active like that and youre getting your hands on balls and stepping up and taking charges, then you have to be on the basketball court."

He went on to mention that Solo Jones was doing a good job and could backup at the PF position while Jeff Foster needs to show he can stay healthy.

I had to go back and hear the hustle stat again and make sure he said what I thought he said. Rookie Paul George just isn't showing up well on the limited highlight videos, he's doing it all practice. As JOB alluded to, George's quickest way to early playing time is doing the dirty work at the defensive end and continuing to pile up those hustle stat numbers could certainly give George some early burn off the bench.

After the jump, a few more links of interest including Darren Collison and JOB discussing the point guard's transition to a new system, A.J. Price working his way back on the court, and Gordon Hayward buying his first car.