After missing all but six games last season, Paul George has been one of only a few constants in the Indiana Pacers starting lineup this preseason. George Hill (sprained right ankle) missed last Thursday's game against the Orlando Magic and is listed as questionable for tonight's contest against the Pistons. A sore knee kept Ian Mahinmi sidelined in Detroit, and now Monta Ellis (sprained right knee) is also listed as doubtful.
Injury report for tomorrow night's game: Monta Ellis (sprained right knee) is doubtful. George Hill (sprained right ankle) is questionable.— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) October 12, 2015
Injury report (continued) for tomorrow night's game: Solomon Hill (sprained left ankle) is out. Joe Young (sore right groin) is out.— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) October 12, 2015
As of now, the Pacers did not indicate that any of these various injuries are of a concerning nature.
"Solo's (Solomon Hill) probably the worst with his ankle, but he's still probably only a few days away," Vogel said, following Monday's practice. "Maybe up to a week, but we'll see."
In the event that the Pacers are forced to play without the team's starting point guard (George Hill), backup point guard (Joe Young) and starting combo guard (Monta Ellis), look for Rodney Stuckey to be more involved on offense.
Over three exhibition games, Stuckey is averaging just 3.0 points and 2.0 assists in a little over 17 minutes per contest, and his usage percentage (12.6%) is a little over half what it was a season ago (23.4%). In fact, when it comes to the percentage of number of offensive possessions he uses while on the court, Stuckey could be much better described as odd man out than sixth man. Thus far in the team's preseason slate, George Hill (17.7%), Monta Ellis (16.7%), and rookie Joe Young (26.3%) are all using a higher percentage of the team's possessions than Stuckey.
Per the Indy Star's Candace Buckner, head coach Frank Vogel believes Stuckey's invisibility act is a byproduct of trying to acclimate newcomers to the Pacers' system.
"I'm still trying to find him," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Friday afternoon. "I don't want to say it the wrong way. What I mean, he's out there with a unit that in the preseason I'm trying to get Myles some touches. I'm trying to get Joe Young some opportunities, get Glenn Robinson some opportunities. So I haven't called his number very much in the preseason. So if he's not doing what (fans) are used to seeing him doing, it's because of me and because of what we're doing, trying to get some young guys some opportunities."
Another player to keep an eye on in tonight's contest is Chase Budinger, who has yet to make an appearance in preseason play due to a sore hamstring. Prior to the start of the exhibition schedule, the Pacers, Frank Vogel and Paul George in particular, were extremely high on the former Arizona Wildcat's addition.
"I think Chase Budinger is going to be a big, big, big piece for us," George told Pacers.com's Mark Montieth. "A lot of people aren't familiar with what he can do. He's been very surprising. I've been working with him in L.A. this summer, so I know what he's capable of. He's been looking great playing pickup ball this summer."
At Media Day, Vogel also gushed about the team's new acquisition, noting that he kept joking at the September pick-up games that he felt like Budinger was shooting somewhere between "60 and 70 percent" from three.
In terms of trying to be a running team, the Pacers believe Budinger will be one of the best at getting ahead of the pack.
"He's a great runner," Vogel told the Indy Star's Nate Taylor. "We're looking for guys who help us change ends and establish our fast-break, transition game. I think he's going to be a big part of what we do."
With the team's plethora of injuries, there has not been much opportunity for the starting unit to build team chemistry; however, tonight's contest does present players such as Rodney Stuckey and Chase Budinger the opportunity to begin re-building their own rhythm within the flow of Indiana's new offense.