The Pacers spent part of Media Day clarifying comments last week by Frank Vogel and Paul George that indicated the coach and star player weren't on the same page with regard to the latter playing the "4" or as I refer to it, power fauxward, as part of the team's small, uptempo lineup.
Larry Bird weighed in, making it clear that PG should just worry about playing and not his supposed position.
"When you say something to Paul sometimes, he just wants to hear what he wants to hear and not what you're trying to explain," Bird said. "He's going to play everywhere but point guard. He's going to guard everybody. That's what he wants to do. He wants to bring his talents out, and by playing every position he'll show you how versatile he is."
Frank Vogel is excited about the change and looking forward to utilizing a style of play which gave his his elite power, rim-protecting defense fits over the past few years. Of course, that required elite talent from the opponent, specifically the LeBron-led Miami Heat or as we saw last year, a Golden State Warriors team loaded with elite scoring weapons.
Vogel made it clear, PG would be the LeBron variable in the Pacers new equation, at least at the offensive end. On the defensive side of the ball, PG will still be the primary defensive option to shut down the opponent's top threat....again, regardless of position. And as Vogel said, if things don't work out as expected and PG is getting beat up, they can go back to playing as they have in the past "overnight."
Of course, the coach fully expects his star player to thrive and thoroughly enjoy the change of pace, if not the change in position title which will be more familiar than foreign to PG on the court.
"On defenensive end, we anticipate sometimes matching other teams playing big, sometimes saying we're going to try to make them guard us and he (PG) may be matched up on a power forward. If we're playing against a Carmelo, a LeBron, Kevin Durant, James Harden, somebody like that we likely won't have him on the four, we'll him on those guys."
The team has depth at several positions means being able to adjust matchups on the fly, if necessary. PG will be the key cog that will make a variety of lineups work at both ends of the floor.
"We're not going to waste his defensive talents, he's one of the best perimeter players in the game," Vogel said. "But we're going to have a lot of versatility out there on the defensive end and we'll make sure we're using it the right way."
Vogel joined PG in expressing no concerns over the leg injury impacting the current plans or requiring some limitations early in the season.
"I'm still confident to allow me to guard the best player night-in, night-out," George said. "I feel great physically. I have no doubts that I'm limited defensively and now it's time to put it to the test."
PG expects to begin the season as the team's defensive stopper but is mindful that with more athletic depth on the roster he may not need to cover the opponent's top gun the whole game, but when it is winning time he knows where he'll be.
"We got so many guys that can guard now," George said. "I'm sure through the course of a game I'm not always going to be matched up on the best players, but I know when the fourth quarter comes, that's my time."
And so now we know what the power fauxward role will mean. PG may start at power forward and guard a shooting guard while being guarded by a small forward. For those more familiar with numbers, PG may start at the 4, guard a 2 and be guarded by a 3.
Anyway you add it up, the Pacers' plan should provide an exciting style of play which is a departure from the more deliberate, defensive focus of the past.