Exchanging George Hill’s malleability for Jeff Teague’s speed was a win-win trade for both the Indiana Pacers and Utah Jazz, according to the latest NBA GM’s survey. Indiana’s new starting point guard finished second in the voting for “Who was the most underrated player acquisition?”, behind only his predecessor.
While Teague’s craftiness and ability to breakdown defenses already seems to be a more natural fit for Indiana’s new high-octane offense, the rest of the league may be underrating the value of Hill’s length and presence as an off-ball threat to a roster void of many perimeter defenders and long-range shooters.
Thaddeus Young also received votes in this category, which further illuminates why the Pacers (6.7%) tied for second with the Jazz behind only the Golden State Warriors, who earned a staggering 83.3 percent of the vote, in the “Which team made the best overall moves this offseason?” category.
Paul George was the forgotten man on last year’s survey, but his comeback season encouraged a few general managers (3.3%) enough to put him in the MVP conversation.
Surprisingly, neither the fits he gave DeMar DeRozan in the playoffs, nor his overall defensive impact in Rio, was enough to garner him a single mention as the league’s best perimeter defender, as voters were more impressed with two-time DPOY winner Kawhi Leonard as well as Avery Bradley, Tony Allen, Jimmy Butler, Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, and Klay Thompson.
Per NBA.com, Indiana's defensive rating was 96.6 with George on the floor in the post-season. That number ballooned to 109.5 with him on the bench.
Given that the general managers were apparently unfazed by Indiana’s best defender, it shouldn’t come as a much of surprise that the Pacers as a whole didn’t receive any votes in the “Which is the best defensive team in the NBA?” category after they bid adieu to Frank Vogel, George Hill, and Ian Mahinmi. However, unlike George, early preseason returns and the eye-test seem to backup their assessment, as Indiana’s defensive rating has fallen from third-best in the league last season to 13th through five exhibition games.
Like Larry Bird, the voters did give long-time defensive coordinator Dan Burke a vote of confidence, as he finished tied for third with San Antonio’s James Borrego in the best assistant coach poll.
The general managers also voiced a lot of faith in Myles Turner, with 10.3 percent of the voters pegging the 20-year-old starting center as the player most likely to breakout next season, behind only Phoenix’s Devin Booker and Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Townes.
In projecting the Pacers to earn home court advantage in the playoffs, the general managers effectively communicated, in tandem with other responses, that they believe the combination of Jeff Teague’s speed, Myles Turner’s projected leap, and Paul George’s long-shot MVP candidacy will be enough to counteract Indiana’s potential defensive drop-off.
It will have to be. Because, so far, the Pacers are 2-2 when they score 105 or more points in the preseason. They’re 1-2 when they give up that many.