Indiana Pacers Open Summer League Play

With the 2010 NBA Draft recently completed, Indiana Pacers fans got their first glimpse at the three rookies Larry Bird added to the team when the Pacers opened Summer League play in Orlando on Monday.

Paul George, a 6’8″ Guard/Forward who the Pacers spent the 10th overall pick on in the draft, admitted to feeling nervous during the early stages of the game, and it showed in his shooting stroke.  George made just 1-of-5 three point attempts, and was 2-of-7 in total from the field.  He did hit all seven of his free-throw attempts though, and finished in double-digits with 12 points.  George shot 90-percent from the foul line in final year at Fresno State, so it’s good to see that his ability to get to the foul line and convert should translate to the NBA.

Magnum Rolle, who the Pacers traded the 57th pick and cash to acquire from the Oklahoma City Thunder on draft night, was singled out by head coach Jim O’Brien after an impressive showing in the Pacers recent Rookie/Free Agent mini-camp they hosted at Conseco Fieldhouse.  Said O’Brien of Rolle’s play:

“He’s by far been the best player in camp, by a large margin.  He has dominated everything.  He has scored, he has rebounded, he has defended well.  He has a surprisingly high basketball IQ.”

That’s high praise for a player out a mid-major university who was drafted so late in the process.  The 6’11” Rolle didn’t let the praise go to his head, saying:

“Now that I’m aware of it (the praise), that means coach has high expectations for me and it’s up to me to take it up another level to meet that.”

His strong play carried over into Monday’s Summer League Game against the Orlando Magic, as he registered 13 points, five rebounds, one block and one steal. At one point, when the Magic closed the lead to 66-60 early in the fourth quarter, Rolle responded by scoring five straight points, putting Orlando away for good.

The Pacers considered themselves very lucky that Lance Stephenson was still available with the 10th pick in the second of the draft.  The high-scoring guard out of New York city spent one season with the Cincinnati Bearcats, and was named Big East Freshman of the Year.  He was thought by scouts to possess sure-fire first round talent, but questions about his character and athleticism led to his fall into the second round.  Through one meaningless summer game, Bird looks like a genius.

Stephenson scored 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting, and had four rebounds and three assists in leading the Pacers to an 86-77 victory.  Most impressively, he did it from the point guard position.  At a powerful 6’5″, Stephenson was viewed by most talent evaluators as a shooting guard, but Bird and O’Brien have been looking for a big point guard for some time now, and they thought Stephenson, though he does lack elite lateral quickness, could be a good fit for the role.  So far, so good.

Josh McRoberts, the only player on the team who played for Indiana last season, was ejected in the third quarter after getting into an altercation with Orlando rookie center Daniel Orton.  McRoberts, a Carmel, Indiana native, who has the chance to find significant playing time if Troy Murphy is traded, had 10 points when he was asked to leave the court.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Pacers Summer League roster:

Richard Hendrix:  Standout double-double machine for Alabama, was selected in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft by Golden State.  Has average 14.6 points and 11.4 rebounds in 46 NBA D-League games.

Thomas Heurtel: A member of France’s U20 National Team, average 9.8 points and 4.9 assists in France’s ProA League last season.

Adam Koch: Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in 2009-10.

Chris Kramer: The Huntington, Indiana native is the only player in Big Ten history to be the conference All-Defensive Team in all four years he played at Purdue University.  Kramer failed to get off the bench in against Orlando.

Marcus Landry:   The brother of former Boilermaker Carl Landry, averaged six minutes per contest in 17 appearances with the New York Knicks last season. Landry played 15 minutes, finishing with six points and four rebounds in the first Summer League game.

James Mays: Undrafted out of Clemson, Mays played professionally overseas in 2009.

Russell Robinson: Was a teammate of Brandon Rush at Kansas, spent first professional season as a member of the Reno Bighorns in the NBADL.

Bryce Talyor: A 2007-08 graduate of Oregon, Taylor has bounced around Euro leagues the past few years.

Darryl Watkins: A shot-blocking specialist out of Syracuse University, Watkins played with the Sacramento Kings in 2007-08 before moving on to a Chinese Pro League in which he average 20.7 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game.

Marcus Williams: A second draft pick of the San Antonio Spurs in the 2007 NBA Draft, Williams has played mostly in the D-League, but has seen a few brief stints in the NBA.

In other summer league news, local hero Gordon Hayward also made his pro debut on Monday.  The former Butler University student was selected with the ninth pick by the Utah Jazz, and Hayward was his usual well-rounded self in his first game, chipping eight points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

The Pacers will be back in action on Tuesday night to face No. 3 overall pick Derrick Favors and the New Jersey Nets.

Check out our Indianapolis sports blog for all the latest news regarding the Pacers, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Indianapolis Indians.