Last season, Darren Collison started almost every game at the point guard spot. While he was a bit underwhelming, it’s worth remembering that the Pacers starting lineup was amongst the best in the league. It’s been widely assumed that George Hill will slip right into the starting role, and there won’t be a drop off in production. They did have very similar stats in many categories, but that is another debate for another day. I’m here to talk about the guy that takes Hill’s spot as the backup point guard.
After 4 seasons trapped in the talent succubus that is the Charlotte Bobcats organization, DJ Augustin signed with a decent team for the first time. Augustin signed a 1 year, $3.5 million, deal back in July that didn’t jive with some folks in the Nap town area. It is a good chunk of change to dole out for a 1 year contract, and his numbers in Charlotte don’t look super spectacular on the surface.
I, for one, am not worried about DJ. I think he’s the perfect backup point guard for a team hoping to be in the upper echelon of the NBA. He provides a perfect contrast that compliments George Hill’s abilities. Yes, I’m aware that doesn’t make sense, but roll with it for a bit. Hill is not the prototypical NBA point guard. He has decent ball control skills, and isn’t inept at passing, but is definitely more of a shoot first point guard than, sayyy, Rajon Rondo, or even my Eskimo brother Jeff Teague. That’s where DJ comes in.
When Hill leaves the game, Augustin’s skills should provide a good skillset that works well with the athletic wing players on the Pacers. While on the Bobcats (the worst team in, like, ever) he was pretty much all the offense. He was forced to try to make plays with “basketball players” that don’t really know how to be good at basketball. During the 2011-2012 season, the Bobcats were last in the league in points per game, FG %, and 3P%. Despite having a bunch of Hellen Kellers hoisting round, orange balls at the rim, DJ managed to be top 15 in the league in assists. Imagine what he can do off the bench with Paul George and Danny Granger on the wings, or with Hibbert on a pick and roll. This guy’s going to have some of the most efficient per-minute stats in the league. Coming from a team where he was expected to be the entire offense, to a team where he merely has to avoid mistakes, the pressure should be off.
The 1 year contract suggests that Augustin is only getting an extended tryout with the Pacers, but I think he is getting every opportunity to succeed here. George Hill and Darren Collison were interchangeable parts, and whichever one had the hot hand on a given night was given the minutes. This will allow the Pacers to matchup with whatever the opponent is trying to throw at them by giving them a way to attack the other team’s point guard in a plethora of ways. If he’s a weak defender, Hill will be able to exploit that. A strong defending guard can be countered with the more conservative Augustin, who will be able to set up the offense around him. All-in-all I think we should be pretty stoked about what we might get from the first or second guy off the bench.