With 35.5 points per game gone, the Indiana offense is going to need baskets from somebody. Can the returning leader scorer, David West, become a focal point in the offense?
Last year David West posted a career high field goal percentage on two-point jumpers outside of 16 feet. West hit 52.1 percent of his long twos, well above his career average of 47 percent. Because of his success last season – and the Pacers constant need of offense – 31.1 percent of West’s field goals came from that long-two distance, the highest since the 2006-07 season when West was in New Orleans.
Can Indiana count on West to stay at 50 percent on the least efficient shot in basketball? Probably not. West’s remarkable field goal percentage on long twos appears to be an outlier.
At all other distances measured by Basketball Reference, West’s field goal percentage substantially declined.
Based on that chart, it is more likely that West will shoot at 47 percent on long twos next year, or worse.
Within the Pacers offense, West thrived on open long twos because defenses were trying to take away other Pacer options.
West set a high ball screen for Lance Stephenson. Miami is so preoccupied with Stephenson that they leave West open in an area where his jumper was worth 1.04 points per shot last season. Mario Chalmers doesn’t leave George Hill in the corner, and West knocks down his jumper.
With an offense replacing Paul George and Lance Stephenson, does Indiana have anyone that can draw that attention off of a ball screen?
Well George Hill did draw that help defense at times last year. So the Hill West pick and pop could be a major factor of Indiana’s offense, especially if there are shooters in the corner like Chris Copeland or C.J. Miles.
The other are West excelled in last season was the post up. He was 26th in the NBA on post up efficiency, per Synergy Sports, and he knocked down 49.2 percent of his shots on post ups. But for how effective West was in posting up, he rarely had deep positioning.
The majority of his post ups started near the elbow. Deep positioning has been a key for Roy Hibbert having a strong offensive performance, but West typically benefits from starting far away.
West is being guarded by Ersan Ilyasova, and Indiana has opened up the floor for West by sending George to the opposite side of the court. George coming off a stagger screen for a three is the second option on this play.
But West uses all that space perfectly. He is able to body Ilyasova so that West has the angle to drive down the paint. West gets some help as Ilyasova tried to reach around to steal the ball.
Posting up 15 feet away from the basket works for West. If the defender slacks off, West can hit the jumper. Plus, he is capable of getting around forwards to attack the basket.
But West posting up from 15 feet and popping out for jumpers aren’t going to carry the Pacers offense. Those are good secondary options late in the shot clock or when West has mismatch.
Indiana can get more creative with West at the elbow. The Pacers used horns with Hibbert and West at the elbows, but Hibbert usually set a down screen near the block out of these sets.
Against Atlanta in the playoffs, Hibbert and West pulled off a high low post up. West has gotten Paul Millsap in a terrible position mainly because Millsap was overplaying the possible pick and pop between Hill and West before Hill fired the ball to Hibbert.
Indiana can look for more high low passing between Hibbert and West this season. Also with horns, Indiana can use a Hill Hibbert pick and roll and hope that the defense uses West’s defender as help, which would free West up for his favorite jumper at the elbow.
Even if Vogel is committed to using West and Hibbert as the focal points of the offense, a staple for Indiana has been baseline or down screens to free up George for threes and Stephenson for driving lanes. Assuming Vogel keeps some of those plays around, we’ll see how often – and how effective – C.J. Miles, Chris Copeland or Rodney Stuckey get those screens.