The Indiana Pacers have concluded their week-long participation in the Orlando Summer League, and after watching the team compete in five games one thing became abundantly clear: Larry Bird struck gold with Indiana’s 2010 NBA Draft picks. Frank Vogel, the assistant coach who was in charge of running the summer league team, told Conrad Brunner of Pacers.com that “every scout, every coach, and every personnel man that I talked to just raved about the draft we had. To get three guys that really have a legitimate shot at being in this league for a long time is the number one impression.”
Let’s take a look at what exactly has everyone so giddy.
The 10th overall pick in the draft struggled mightily with his shooting all week, going just 3-of-26 from behind the arc, but excelled in the other aspects of his game. George average 15.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and an impressive 2.4 steals per game, while playing 151 of a possible 200 minutes.
He was very smooth in getting to the hole, and his leaping ability proved to be as good as advertised. His play on the defensive end was perhaps the most encouraging, as he displayed great instincts and a very aggressive style of play, something the Pacers have been sorely lacking since Ron Artest took his crazy act to the West Coast. In addition to the getting more comfortable on the perimeter, George also needs to work on his efficiency with the dribble and decision making skills. He committed 24 turnovers in the Pacers five games.
Quote from Vogel:
“Paul didn’t shoot the ball as well as he would’ve liked. That is to be expected based on adjusting to the faster pace, adjusting to the deeper 3- point line and also trying to play the tempo we play. You really have to condition your legs to play that way and still be able to shoot the basketball. But did so many other things — he rebounded the ball, he was tremendous with his hands, showed tremendous anticipation with deflections. We were very pleased.”
After slipping to the 2nd round in the draft, Stephenson showed why he was considered one of the most talented players in the nation as a high school senior. Playing the point position for the first time in his career, the former Cincinnati Bearcat averaged 14.8 points on a ridiculous 73 percent shooting from the field. Unfortunately, a deep thigh bruise kept him out of most of the final two contests, but the Pacers saw enough that Stephenson is already being considered for the backup point guard role in Jim O’Brien‘s offense. He’s not quite adept at distributing the ball and running the offense smoothly yet — that’ll take some time — but he’s extremely effective at creating shots for himself, and he showed off an elite gear in the open court.
Quote from Vogel:
“Lance showed us everything that made us excited to pick him at No. 40. He showed he can play the point, although he would be more of a scoring point guard. He still needs to work on running the team and setting things up but we’re incredibly excited.”
Originally selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Rolle was traded to the Pacers on draft night. Because he played his final two college years at mid-major Louisiana Tech, not much was known, or expected, out of the slender Rolle heading into this summer. Not anymore. Rolle raised everyone’s expectations by averaging 13.4 points and 6.4 rebounds on 57 percent shooting in summer league play. He also blocked 10 shots in five games, and held down the center position ably, despite projecting as a power forward in the NBA. He also showed a nice touch on mid-range jump shot.
Quote from Vogel:
“Magnum Rolle’s got a bright future, as well,” Vogel said. “He played hard, in fact all of these guys played hard all week. These are all high-motor guys, and Magnum had a strong week.”
Other Pacers News:
Roy Hibbert Injured
Hibbert, the Pacers blossoming center, injured his knee while working out with the Jamaican National Team in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He reportedly banged his knee after slipping on a slick floor, and while he told Jamaican officials he wouldn’t be able to participate in the Olympic qualifying tournament, the Pacers have said the injury is “believed to be minor.” Hibbert’s currently in Indy being examined by team doctors, and an update is expected to come sometime in the next couple of days.
Pacers and CIB come to terms
The Pacers and owner Herb Simon have come to an agreement with the Capital Improvement Board, which operates the city’s sports venues. The deal calls for the CIB (read: taxpayers) to provide over $30 million to the Pacers over the next three years, which will go to covering parts of Conseco Fieldhouse‘s operating costs and capital improvements made to the arena.
The financially strapped Pacers must, in return, stay in Indy through the 2012-13 season, or they’ll have to pay back the entire $30 million. If they leave before 2019, they’ll have to pay back portions of the amount. Many are split on the decision to give money to a billionaire owner like Simon, viewing it as sports bail-out, but the economic impact of having a professional basketball team in the city is undeniable, and Indianapolis sports fans who follow the team believe the extra cost to taxpayers is well worth keeping the Pacers in town.