Looking over how the starters have performed, which I feel has kept the Pacers in most of the games this season. There’s still room for improvement as the offense can get very stagnant. But there is the improvement on defense, which helps out that problem of not scoring. The addition of Lance Stephenson into the starting lineup, moving up Paul George to small forward, has been a good move by Coach Frank Vogel. Roy Hibbert is having issues around the rim finishing baskets, but has been very good on defense in spite of that. David West is looking like an All Star this season with as well as he has played. George Hill really can do it all when he’s out there on the floor. But let’s look at how each starter is playing through the first quarter of the season.
Roy Hibbert has had a bit of an up and down season. He’s been superb on defense at times, which was highlighted by the season high of 11 blocks against the New Orleans Hornets. On defense, I feel like Hibbert has a hand in the face of a guy coming in the lane. He can get his hands around the ball when rebounding, and just gives the Pacers those extra opportunities on offense. Offensive wise, he needs to start hitting more shots. It’s so hard to explain why shots are going in, when he’s right there by the basket. I feel like with his soft touch at the basket, he’s gotta be more aggressive and get to the basket more often. I think those shots will start falling with more opportunities. He’ll continue his impressive play on defense, and he’ll become a Pacers favorite.
Talk about the most consistent player, and you start with David West. Looking over his season so far, he’s had one game of points scored under 10. He’s right around a double double each time out there. He’s like Hibbert with his hands and around the basket. Either getting the rebound or tipping it out, David West has a way with rebounding. He’s had a couple of games over 30 points and might need a few more of those to keep the Pacers in games. Today’s game against the Thunder could be a game where West just needs to demand the ball and score. That might be the only thing I think West can improve upon is becoming a bit more demanding of the ball at times. He has such a range of shooting ability, you feel like he can score at any place and any time.
I know Paul George had two bad games in a row, but looking over his season, there’s only been three games under 10 points in scoring. So for all those who say, George isn’t consistent enough at scoring, they need to take a look at his season this season. Just the past three games, George had 22, 22, and 34. That 34 point game against the Chicago Bulls, where George was hitting all kinds of shots, and doing what he could to carry the Pacers to the win. I think he struggled a bit with his shot out of the gates as he really wanted to step up in Danny Granger’s absence. But something has clicked recently, and George has looked great out there shooting the ball. He’s got such a great form when shooting, you think it’s going in all the time. He even got that career high and franchise record of 9 three pointers in a game against the New Orleans Hornets on his way to 37 points. He has become more of a rebounding machine as well with some double figure rebounding games early on in the season. He’s becoming a well rounded Pacer, and hopefully he can continue this consistent play.
Lance Stephenson got inserted into the starting lineup and I think it really helped solidify that. The Pacers had tried Gerald Green and Sam Young at different points, but Stephenson looked to be the best option. Stephenson is shooting the ball so much better than the past couple of seasons, and I fully believe it’s because he’s out there given the ball to shoot. He brings an energy to the starters as well that I think was missing. He’s really improved on the three point shot and even been called upon to hit a late game shot or two. His defense can still improve and he needs to watch those passes. But at times, he’ll make a pass, I didn’t even know there was. And who can forget when he broke Tony Parker’s ankles, which was such an impressive move. Hopefully we can see more of that.
Another consistent guy, who just goes out and does everything for the Pacers team. I feel like he has all those qualities of a leader for the team if he wants to step up and do that. George Hill fills in the stat sheet in all aspects. Looking over the past game, Hill even logged 3 blocks. That’s pretty impressive for a point guard like Hill. His assist numbers are coming along as well as he’s settling in that point guard position. There still might be a question if Hill should be at the point guard position, but I feel like with the way he’s played, he should be there. He’s naturally a shooting guard, but he looks to make the best decisions for the team, so you have to run him at the point. He should continue his play for the team, and hopefully can continue to do all he can to carry this team.