I'm not one to make a negative out of a positive, but a couple of things are bugging me about Bruno's piece on Brandon Rush.
There's no doubt Rush has improved his play over the past few weeks and shown he can be valuable without scoring. I'm not saying he's turned a corner with his consistency though because during his brief career he's turned the corner so many times it's like he's running laps at the ol' Brickyard, eventually ending up back where he started from only to begin the process again.
Still, it's a nice story to hear about how much Rush's teammates are pulling for him because he's so well liked in the locker room. Rush is pretty easy going, quick with a laugh and willing to give and take the ribbing that keeps a locker room loose so it's easy to see why his peers enjoy him as a teammate.
The part the bugs me, though, is that Rush's affable demeanor and get-along/just-one-of-the-guys attitude leaks onto the court and suppresses the sick athletic ability he also carries around. If only he had an edge to him that instead made his teammates uncomfortable at times and fueled a killer instinct on the court.
As it is, what makes Rush such a likable guy and great teammate translates on the court as a player willing to defer with no questions asked. Sometimes he appears more than willing to just play a role as a cog in the offense, quickly passing the ball or cutting away from the action.
I mean, I'm all for unselfish play and appreciate good player and ball movement as much as the next guy, but there are times when you need, desperately need, your playmakers to make plays. Rush can make plays, but rarely attacks the game as a playmaker.
At the end of the day, though, we do have a far better understanding of what Rush has to offer and what he can be relied upon to deliver. His all-around game is worthy of minutes and a future worst-case scenario of a role player contributing off the bench with that amount of ability isn't a bad thing.
The other thing that bugged me were the comments by the vets like Dahntay Jones, Troy Murphy and Earl Watson. Now, admittedly, I'm reading way too much into these specific comments but the general tone of these guys being happy for Rush is, again, missing something. It sounds like they realize he's gone through many ups and downs so when he flashes some progress they feel good for him and the work he's put in.
That's great, but how are they helping push Rush to expand his game? Last year Jarrett Jack was always willing to give Rush some tough love and I can't help but think that leadership helped push the then rookie to a strong finish to the season. This year without Jack driving him, have any of these picked up the slack and held Rush accountable?
I tend to doubt it since guys like Dahntay and Watson who seem capable of that role just joined the team before the season and had their own issues to worry about while mixing in with new teammates. The bottom line is there really isn't anyone in the locker room who carries a hammer capable of holding teammates accountable.
It could be worse, though at least they all get along.
To finish my lap around the track, I'll try to bring this Rush story back to a positive conclusion. Maybe Rush's game just blossoms in the Spring months. Remember, he was pretty darn good in the Final Four two years ago. Last year he lit it up during the last few weeks of his rookie season. Now here we are again in March and his game appears to be trending upward in all areas.
So, if the Pacers ever do make it to the playoffs, and play deep into the Spring months we may really see a dynamic player in Rush making and even a bigger impact.