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Second Annual Last-Minute Christmas Gifts for all of the Indiana Pacers

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Handing out the perfect, must-have gift for every player on Indiana’s roster.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Last-minute Christmas shopping isn't so bad when almost every item on your list can be found in one place, where there aren’t any crowded parking lots or ransacked shelves. Open 24-hours a day, 365 days a year (broadband permitting), Basketball Reference, NBA Wowy, NBA Miner, and NBA-dot-com make finding the sure-to-improve present for each player on Indiana's roster a breeze.

Looking back at some of last season’s gifts, the “DNP-rest” bestowed to Monta Ellis last season sat on the shelf collecting dust, but Glenn Robinson III has finally started to make good use of his “readiness”. Meanwhile, in the spirit of the Heat Miser song from the Rankin-Bass Christmas classic The Year Without a Santa Claus, it wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that everything that C.J. Miles has touched with his “hot hand” of late starts to “melt” in his “clutch”.

Without having to anxiously wait for Christmas morning, here are the second annual last-minute gifts.

Myles Turner: Stationary screens. Per NBA Miner, Turner is tied with Joel Embiid for committing the fifth-most offensive fouls in the entire NBA. Of the 14 he’s racked up this season, 11 have been the product of him setting an illegal screen. Indiana’s guards could certainly be more patient waiting for him to establish position; however, Turner has a bad tendency of either prematurely rolling or pushing off the ball-handler’s man.

This is a triple whammy for the Pacers because it’s a foul, turnover, and missed opportunity for Turner to spot up from mid-range, where he’s shooting a league-best 50.5 percent.

C.J. Miles: An extra C.J. Miles. The sample sizes are minuscule, but Indiana’s most successful bench lineup — Aaron Brooks and Rodney Stuckey joined by Glenn Robinson III, C.J. Miles, and Al Jefferson —has outscored opponents by 8.3 points per 100 possessions in 39 minutes together. Their lineup with Miles at shooting guard joined by Jeff Teague, Paul George, Thaddeus Young, and Myles Turner is their best overall at plus-18.4, minimum 30 minutes played. Monta Ellis and Rodney Stuckey being out makes it challenging for the lefty sharpshooter to fill the void at backup shooting guard and be in two other places at once.

Lavoy Allen: Reliability from mid-range. Rebounding the highest percentage of his team’s misses (minimum 200 minutes played), Lavoy Allen is doing what Lavoy Allen does. Still, it would be easier to argue in favor of playing him more minutes — especially beside Al Jefferson’s paint-centric game — if he wasn’t shooting 20 percent from outside the non-restricted area and so immensely challenged guarding power fauxwards.

Joe Young and Georges Niang: Two extended-stay trips to Fort Wayne. Young earned a “DNP-Coach’s Decision” against the New Orleans Pelicans even with Monta Ellis sidelined by a groin injury and Rodney Stuckey out due to a sore hamstring. Niang averaged 16.0 points on 50 percent shooting to go along with 3.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists over his three-game assignment with the Mad Ants. Neither player has accumulated more than one hundred minutes with the Pacers. Game action in Fort Wayne is preferable to game-watching in Indy.

Jeff Teague: Fewer pull-up three-pointers. The crafty guard has attempted nearly the same total of shots beyond the arc off the dribble (40) as off the catch (41). This, despite the fact that he is shooting 20 percent better from that distance off the pass (40%) than the bounce (20%).

The Pacers would be better served if he converted some of his long-range pull-up attempts into drives. Per Basketball Reference, Teague is attempting a career-low 25.9 percent of his field goals from within three feet of the basket.

Thaddeus Young: A hand warmer. Darryl Blackport of Nylon Calculus found that it takes 750 attempts for a player’s three-point shooting percentage to stabilize. Prior to this season, Young had launched a total of 792 shots from behind the arc, which put him past Blackport’s estimated reliability threshold and indicated that his 31.9 percent career-mark was an accurate representation of who he’s been as a shooter, but not necessarily who he would be for the Pacers if a positive change in the 28-year-old’s role put him in a better position to make more of his next 750 threes.

Young has made good use of Jeff Teague’s ability to drive-and-kick and Paul George’s gravitational pull, connecting on a career-high 44.8 percent of his attempts from behind the arc. The lefty stretch-four has already knocked down the same number of threes (26) as he did over the last two season’s combined in Brooklyn, where he was predominantly used as a gritty post threat.

Aaron Brooks: Rational confidence. Over the last four games, Brooks is shooting a team-worst 23 percent from the field. Intermittently taking pull-up jump shots early in the shot clock and dancing with the ball hasn’t exactly helped matters.

Glenn Robinson III: Consistency. The 22-year-old slowly began to blossom stepping in as Paul George’s understudy. His productivity has been up and down playing alongside the three-time All-Star, scoring only two points against the Pelicans and recording his second double-double of the season against the Pistons. Prior to recording twelve points and twelve rebounds in Detroit on Saturday, Robinson III had attempted only 14 field goals on 28.5 percent shooting since replacing Monta Ellis in the starting lineup.

Moving forward, the Pacers need him to display the same level of confidence, whether George is on the floor with him or not.

Stats via NBA Wowy

Rakeem Christmas: Redistribution of field goal attempts. The 6-foot-9 center has only taken two shots outside of the painted area with the Mad Ants this season. Undersized for his position, being able to more readily knock down shots from between 9-16 feet would not only keep defenders honest; it would better allow him to use his quickness to beat opponents to the rim.

Paul George: An extra perimeter defender. The Pacers have lost to six of the seven worst teams in the NBA, with Minnesota (whom they haven’t yet played) being the lone exception. Still, the saddest part of last Thursday’s most recent bad loss to the New Orleans Pelicans was that Buddy Hield, who scored a career-high 21 points, had to be cooled off by Paul George late in the third quarter. This, after Indiana’s two-way star had already spent a handful of possessions chasing Jrue Holiday around. Without another defensive stopper on which for him to lean, George’s conditioned lack of trust has contributed to him gambling and sending some strange help where it isn’t necessarily needed.

Rodney Stuckey and Kevin Seraphin: Health. Since returning from a hamstring strain against the Phoenix Suns, the Pacers are 5-2 in games where Stuckey scores in double figures. Now, he’s dealing with soreness in his other hamstring. He and Monta Ellis being out at the same time makes it challenging for the newly formulated small-ball bench to continue to build chemistry with Lavoy Allen being reinserted into the lineup. Seraphin’s absence didn’t produce any sort of chain reaction in the playing rotation, but his rim protection does come in handy when Myles Turner gets into foul trouble or needs a breather.

Monta Ellis: Better decision-making. Ranking 28th in defensive rebounding percentage and experiencing wild swings in three-point accuracy, the Pacers can’t afford to waste possessions being sloppy. Ellis has been notoriously so. In fact, no one in the entire league is committing more turnovers per 100 of his own possessions than the Ellis (15.1), minimum 30 minutes per game. Loose with his handle and unable to shake his penchant for whipping passes to trailing ghosts, the speed-reliant guard has toed the line between daring and reckless too often this season.

Al Jefferson: More minutes with C.J. Miles (or someone like him). Per NBA Wowy, the Pacers are scoring 111.7 points per 100 possessions when Jefferson and Miles are on the floor without Lavoy Allen. The lefty sharpshooter’s 42 percent conversion rate on catch-and-shoot threes makes converting shots at the rim easier for Jefferson than when Allen’s mid-range challenged game is parked on the opposing low block.

(Stats cited are prior to Saturday’s game against the Pistons. All videos courtesy of 3 Ball.)