Archive for the ‘Indiana Pacers’ Category

One of the Professionals, in the NBA

November 21, 2008

Mike Wells has a solid article today on what it means to be Rasho Nesterovic, hard at-work, in the NBA.

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Litte-known Nesterovic plays key role in offense

[from a teammate]

“He’s what you call a good pro,” said point guard T.J. Ford, who is in his third season as Nesterovic’s teammate. He’s been in the league for a long time. He carries himself the way a professional should. He’s a hard worker. He’s just a smart player. He doesn’t have a big name. He never has. But if you ask around the NBA, they know he’s a solid player.”

[from his coach]

[Jim] O’Brien stopped a practice during the first week of training camp and told his team, “Get the ball to Rasho and good things will happen.”

“I would say his basketball IQ,” O’Brien said when asked to name Nesterovic’s best attribute. “I think he understands the game of basketball. He understands in particular what we’re trying to accomplish offensively. He understands the strengths of his teammates. He understands the weaknesses of his teammates. He’s a very, very good communicator.”

[from the man, himself]

He doesn’t waste time breaking down the box score. You won’t catch him patting himself on the back for what he did right or grimacing after a woeful shooting night.

“I don’t like it,” he said. “There are a lot of guys that play for just stats. You don’t want to play for just box scores.”

“During the game, you just try to make every pass good, every shot good, every defense good,” he said. “You are just in the flow of the game.”

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Tells you all you need to know about a player whose team has never missed the playoffs, over the course of his 10-year career, and what it takes to develop a Reputation for Success, in the best basketball League in the World.

To one of the Good Guys: Peace, Brother.

Pacers have their ‘Man’

November 4, 2008

In the aftermath of their trade with the Raptors, Pacers’ President of Basketball Operations, Larry Bird, expressed his feelings about the type of Leadership he is looking for with his current team.

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Bird says team poised to fill leadership void
“Just because you make the most money doesn’t mean you’re the leader,” Bird said last month. “A lot of guys didn’t want to step on toes. Not only here, but other places I’ve been at. They’d say, the guy makes the most money, that means he’s the leader. That’s not the case. The leader comes from the guy doing the right thing, the guy that’s going to be there every day at practice, the guy that plays through pain without complaining. They do the necessary things to prepare themselves.

“I think the situation you have here, you had one guy making a lot of money and everybody just took it as he’s going to be leading us, and in some instances that was true. But I think more now that since it has opened you’ll see a number of guys stepping up.

“Really, you just need one voice. Usually your best leaders are ones that don’t say anything, they just play, prepare and do the right things.”

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Well, today … it says here that Larry Legend has now got his man …

Broken teeth, not broken spirit
“As professional athletes, we’ve bled throughout our careers,” he said. “We’ve broken bones, torn ligaments, busted teeth. It’s part of the game. It’s kind of fun when you do it, and you actually win.”

Granger’s refusal to leave the game after the collision impressed his teammates and coaches.

He made the play with the Pacers ahead by 16 in the fourth quarter. He stayed in the game.

“That one play epitomized what we want from our leaders — toughness, refusing to get knocked out of the game because you’ve lost your choppers,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “That was just great.”

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After a period of significant upheaval, the Pacers have now righted their ship … at last … and will be in playoff contention this season.

Rolling the dice on an oft-injured player

October 23, 2008

The sort of quotes which make a keen NBA Observer scratch his head and say, “Hmmmmmmm.”

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Star dimming, O’Neal sees brighter days in Toronto

1. re: Jermaine O’Neal’s physical condition

O’Neal admits as much, directing most of the blame at his left knee. He had surgery to repair a cartilage tear the summer before last season, and was on the floor for opening night. By mid-January, however, O’Neal felt like he was playing on one leg. Tired of crunching Advil – “12 a day,” he claims – he sought the advice of a couple specialists and shut down for the next 2½ months. He returned for the final two weeks, and the Pacers finished one win shy of claiming the Eastern Conference’s last playoff berth.

Because neither O’Neal nor the Pacers wanted to further diminish his trade value, “we didn’t really want to speak much about my injuries,” he said. “Whenever it got to the point where I had to sit out, we just had to call it something else. But over the last 2½ years, that knee was the issue.”

i.e. O’Neal had surgery on his injured left knee 2 summers ago, not this past season or during this current off-season.

2. Jermaine O’Neal’s mind-set

There were other issues, not all of them external.

“Mentally, I was just worn out,” he said. “When you get to that point, you just kind of lose that fire.”

3. re: probability & what to worry about

“Bryan Colangelo isn’t dumb; he didn’t trade for an injured player,” said one Eastern Conference scout. “Jermaine will probably dedicate himself this season. He quit on Indiana. I guess if there’s anything to worry about, it’s that he could always do the same in Toronto.”

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Based on the following observations:

* Jermaine O’Neal is not coming back from an injury he sustained this past season
* Once a NBA player ‘loses his fire’, rarely does he ever get it back
* Jermaine O’Neal is perceived to have ‘quit’ on the Indiana Pacers

it is simply not a given that the Raptors are actually going to get their money’s worth this season, and next, from the trade which brought them Jermaine O’Neal and cost them TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston & the No. 17 Selection [overall] from the 2008 NBA Draft, which the Pacers used to choose Roy Hibbert [C, Georgetown], in exchange for the #41 Pick, Nathan Jawai [C/PF, Australia] who is still inactive at this point with a suspected heart condition.

[Note 1: O’Neal missed his first ‘in-game’ action with the Raptors this season, on Tuesday, sitting out the 2nd Half of their exhibition loss vs the Nuggets, due to a ‘sore right leg’.]

Next One from Georgetown

October 14, 2008

As the NBA’s pre-season continues to move forward, it becomes increasingly interesting to evaluate some of the Draft Night transactions which involved young men who had yet to play a single game in the NBA and were deemed by certain GM’s to be valuable building blocks for their respective franchises, or not.

Such is the case for Roy Hibbert [C, 7-2, 278, 2008 NBA Draft, No. 17 (overall) Selection].

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Hibbert shows he can score
Hibbert, the No. 17 pick in last summer’s draft, had his best offensive game of the preseason, scoring 17 points against the Grizzlies on Monday.Quantcast

“We really like Roy,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “He works his heart out. He knows how to put the ball in the basket around the basket. We couldn’t be happier with Roy right now.”

Hibbert came out of Georgetown labeled as being primarily a defensive player. Hibbert will help the Pacers defensively — he had three blocked shots against the Grizzlies — but he’ll also offer more. He had nine rebounds in 23 minutes.

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Time will tell just how effective Roy Hibbert is eventually going to be, in the NBA … but if this corner’s assessment proves to be correct, he is destined to have a long and productive career, as a ‘Robert Parrish-esque’ player, i.e. no fuss-no muss, consistent on both ends of the floor, plays within himself at all times, Rock Solid Big … following in the grand tradition of Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutumbo, Alonzo Mourning and [to a far lesser extent] Othella Harrington.

Of further intrigue, at least, to this corner, is the fact that he was acquired on Draft Night by a GM like Larry Legend [of all people 🙂 ], as part of the Pacers’ trade with the Raptors … i.e. Jermaine O’Neal + the 2008 NBA Draft No. 41 (overall) Selection [Nathan Jawai], in exchange for TJ Ford [PG] + Rasho Nesterovic [PF/C] + Maceo Baston [PF].

5 years from today … it is going to be very interesting to assess where the Raptors have gone, in the interim, with the front-court players they have right now … i.e. Chris Bosh, O’Neal, Andrea Bargnani, Kris Humphries, Nathan Jawai & Jamal Sampson … in comparison with the Pacers [i.e. Rasho Nesterovic, Jeff Foster, Troy Murphy, Austin Croshere, Josh McRoberts, Maceo Baston & Roy Hibbert].

It says here … that Larry Bird has his Center for the next 10-15 years, and the Pacers are but one or two more moves away from returning to the EC playoffs on a consistent basis.

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UPDATE:
* A 2nd set of solid numbers for Roy Hibbert
Box Score: Pacers 100, Mavericks 93 [Wed Oct 15 2008].

Pacers and Raptors … moving forward from here

October 7, 2008

There’s an interesting interview with Larry Bird on NBA.com today which gives his interpretation of the Pacers’ situation looking forward to this season and their future in the next few years ahead.

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NBA.com: What do you see as the No. 1 area of improvement for the Pacers this season?
Larry Bird: Obviously we have to get better on the defensive end. Last year we committed too many fouls and we didn’t defend the three-point shot. So overall our defense has to get better to win games. Offensively, we’ll score a lot of points. Defense was the problem last year. As far as the team goes, I think we did something in the draft to help us overall, and I think we solidified our point guard position with
Travis [Diener],T.J., and Jarrett Jack so we’re very strong in that area right now.

NBA.com: How big of an impact will rookie Roy Hibbert have on the defensive end in the role of shot blocker, overall defensive presence?
Larry Bird: It’s always good to have a big guy in there. Without Jermaine last year we didn’t have that potential to block shots. With Roy in there he takes up a lot of space and even if we don’t block a lot of shots, you can get guys to shoot up over him and maybe distract them a little bit. I think it’s going to be a major plus for us. Obviously he’s a rookie and he’s got a lot of learning to do, but in the long run he’ll be fine.

NBA.com: Who is the team leader?
Larry Bird: I think it can be a couple guys. We’ve had some players around here just waiting for the opportunity to step in and I think now they’ll look at the training camp and go through and you’ll sort of see after a while who the players gravitate to.

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What’s of most interest to this corner is:

(1) The possible location of two former Raptors on Indiana’s current depth chart, i.e. TJ Ford and Rasho Nesterovic; and,

(2) The overall level of optimism Larry Legend has for the likes of Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger, Troy Murphy, Roy Hibbert, et al., as a core group of players which the Pacers can build around over the next few seasons …

specifically, in comparison with the current roster of the Pacers’ trading partner in the deal they made this summer for Jermaine O’Neal.

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2008-2009

 

 

A) Raptors’ Current Roster

B) Pacers’ Current Roster

 

 

1 PG – Jose Calderon *

1 PG – Travis Diener *

2 OG – Anthony Parker

2 OG/SF – Mike Dunleavy 

3 SF – Jamarion Moon

3 SF – Danny Granger 

4 PF – Chris Bosh *

4 PF – Troy Murphy *

5 C – Jermaine O’Neal **

5 C – Rasho Nesterovic **

 

 

6 PG – Will Solomon **

6 PG – TJ Ford **

7 OG – Jason Kapono

7 OG – Brandon Rush **

8 SF – Joey Graham

8 SF – Marquis Daniels

9 PF – Kris Humphries

9 PF – Austin Croshere **

10 C – Andrea Bargnani

10 C – Jeff Foster 

 

 

11 PG/OG – Roko Ukic **

11 PG/OG – Jarrett Jack **

12 OG/SF – Hassan Adams **

12 PG – Roy Hibbert **

 

 

 

 

13 PF/C – Nathan Jawai **

13 SF – Stephen Graham

14 ? PF – Jamal Sampson **

14 SF/PF – Shawne Williams 

15 ?

15 PF – Josh McRoberts **


LEGEND:
* New Role this season; ** New Player Added

While most of the ‘2008-2009 NBA Season Forecasts’ these eyes have read, thus far, see the Pacers finishing toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference; and, the Raptors with a solid chance to finish in the top third of the EC … looking strictly at the rosters of these two teams, paints a very different picture in the mind of this NBA connoisseur.

Is it possible that the Raptors manage to navigate the entire NBA season without a significant injury to one [or more] of their key players [i.e. Bosh, O’Neal or Calderon]?

Yes it is.

If so … then, it is certainly possible to see how the Raptors might finish this campaign higher in the EC standings than the Pacers.

However, on the flip side … even if Toronto goes injury-free this year …

Is it also possible to see how this Pacers’ roster … with the Quality Depth it has … might, in fact, be able to generate just as many W’s this season as the Toronto Raptors?

Yes it is … if Larry legend is correct and the players he’s mentioned are indeed capable of stepping up their games to assume Leadership Roles with their team this season.

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From the perspective of this corner, these are just two of many teams in the EC that could realistically finish anywhere from #6-14 this season should the breaks go their way or not.