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Pacers Biggest 2010 Off-Season Addition: Tyler Hansbrough

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This is not a re-post from last summer, and I did not just step out of a time machine. I honestly believe one of the most important players the Pacers will add this off-season is a healthy Tyler Hansbrough. It's easy to forget his contributions from this past season. It's actually easy to forget that he is still a Pacer, after he missed the last 42 games of the season with vertigo induced by a viral ear infection. He also missed 9 other games with injuries, for a grand total 511 minutes played in 29 games.

Hansbrough is expected to be healthy to begin next season, and will be essentially starting over as a rookie. For full disclosure, I was a fan of the Hansbrough pick last summer. At the time I would have rather picked DeJuan Blair, but I thought and still think that Hansbrough can be a very good NBA player. Hindsight is 20/20, and with the incredible regression of T.J. Ford, picking a point guard like Lawson or Holiday probably would have made more sense. I thought Hansbrough was really impressive in his limited run last year, actually adjusting quicker than I would have expected. Over the past few weeks, I have seen a few other numbers which make me feel very optimistic about his ability to contribute next year.

After the jump, check out some of his statistics from last year and some surprise appearances Tyler made on some very impressive lists.

 

The first Top 10 list Tyler made an appearance on was for a post I wrote at Hickory High, about per minute production from rookies. Hansbrough was 4th among last year's rookie class in Pts/40min.

Top 10 Rookies - Pts/40min.
Player Team Pts/40
Rodrigue Beaubois DAL 22.8
Marcus Thornton NOR 22.6
Tyreke Evans SAC 21.6
Tyler Hansbrough IND 19.3
A.J. Price IND 19.3
Brandon Jennings MIL 19.0
Jonny Flynn MIN 18.7
Reggie Williams GSW 18.7
Darren Collison NOR 18.0
Sam Young MEM 18.0

In addition to out-scoring most of the rookie class, Hansbrough's per minute scoring average is higher than Carl Landry, LaMarcus Aldridge, Russell Westbrook, Travis Outlaw, Eric Gordon, Mo Williams, Baron Davis, Gerald Wallace, Andre Iguodala, and Troy Murphy, among others.

Even people who were skeptical of Hansbrough's NBA potential admitted he could probably do a little bit of scoring off the bench. The main concerns about his transition to the pros were his defense and ability to rebound. That's why I was even more excited to see Hansbrough included in this post at Hardwood Paroxysm. It's some great work by Tom Haberstroh and my explanation probably won't due it justice, but here goes:

Haberstroh was curious about the case of Carl Landry who has gone from one of the best offensive rebounders in the league with the Rockets, to one of the worst in the league with Sacramento. His initial idea was that Landry had become a more perimeter oriented PF with Sacramento, and was therefore around the basket less often to grab rebounds. Haberstroh used a players height, position, and percentage of offense which came from the perimeter to create a predicted Offensive Rebound Rate (the estimated percentage of available offensive rebounds a player grabs when on the floor). He then compared the predicted ORR to the player's actual ORR. Hansbrough showed up 10th on the list of players whose actual ORR is much higher than predicted. Hansbrough's predicted ORR was 8.5% and his actual ORR was 12.8%. This would indicate that Hansbrough is doing a much better job rebounding than anyone thought possible.

In fact when his TRR (Total Rebound Rate) is compared to the rest of the Pacer's he comes out smelling like roses. Tyler's TRR came out to 14.7%, meaning he grabs 14.7% of all available rebounds when he is on the floor. This is the third highest rate on the team, behind only Murphy and Foster. Hansbrough's ORR is second only to Foster's on the Pacers last season. Among rookies who averaged more than 10 minutes per game his ORR is 4th behind only Jordan Hill, DeJuan Blair and Jon Brockman.

I am not implying Tyler will be making any All-Star teams in the near future. He still forces a lot of bad shots, evidenced by his very low shooting percentages. He still has a ton of room to grow defensively. He will continue to have the same physical limitations. That being said, he can really score. He is a much better rebounder than advertised, gets to the free throw line at an incredible rate, doesn't turn the ball over, and plays with an unmatched intensity. His injuries caused him to fade to the background last year, but this season he gets a do-over. Even without a trade the Pacers will essentially have two first round draft picks as rookies next year. In an effort to keep hope alive, I'll leave you with some of his stats from last season.

Ten Important Stats - Tyler Hansbrough
Pts/40 Reb/40 Ast/40 ORR TRR FTA/40 eFG% FT% FTA/FGA TO/Pos
19.3 10.8 2.2 12.7% 14.7% 8.9 36.0% 74.3% 0.50 0.09