This is how I feel about the bench, they underperformed most of the season, gave some lift at times, but mostly felt like they could have been so much more. We bring in D.J. Augustin to shore up the back up guard position, but he struggles most of the season. He had a good stretch of filling in for George Hill. But big picture, Augustin wasn’t the same guy that averaged 12 points last season with the Charlotte Bobcats ends up averaging 5 points this past season. I know his playing time came down, but the overall play just seemed down as well. Maybe he was never that good to begin with as he was playing with the Bobcats. Not a good team in that. But I really thought he could lead that second unit at times, and give a good outing here and there. He did have some games of double figures, and the playoffs he was able to step up in the first and second round. But he’s on his way out, and now the Pacers will have to look again for some backup point guard to bring in.
Gerald Green is another free agent that was brought in to up the scoring of the Indiana Pacers’ second unit. Like Augustin, I feel like he underperformed as well. He had some breakout games, but mostly that’s about all he could do. His passing was bad. His defense was lacking. He couldn’t rebound that well. The only thing you knew he could do was finish at the basket. There were some nice highlight dunks from Green. But for the most part, he lost playing time as the season wore on, and now the Pacers have to figure out what to do with him. He’s a guy that’s signed for the next couple of years. If he’s here, you might as well get what you can from him. Maybe another season of working with the Pacers can help his all around game. He’s got to pick up some defense. Or at least be a rebounder if the scoring isn’t happening. If he can get 10 points off the bench consistently, then he’s worth the time he’s playing. I just don’t know if we’ll get anything more out of him.
Ian Mahinmi was another fresh face to the Pacers, and he’s a guy that I would give a passing grade to. I wasn’t expecting much out of him, but as the back up to Roy Hibbert, he came in and did some things while out there. I don’t recall any sort of break through performances, but as a bench guy, if you can play solid, then that’s all I would want. I think give him another year to work, and he could give you a little bit more as he’s comfortable with his role. Maybe a few more points while he’s out there. Some post defense, and two or three more rebounds. I think he’ll be fine as the back up in the next season.
Tyler Hansbrough has been a Pacers guy for a few years now, and he performed fair enough for the team. His shooting was a bit off, but you never expect high quality shooting from him anyways. He gives you that intensity you need at times. He can make a hustle play that jump starts everyone. He just does those little things that won’t show up in the stat sheet, but helps the team do something. I don’t know if he’ll be around the Pacers much longer, so they might have to look for another forward in this off season.
Orlando Johnson was a rookie, who came in and got some playing time. More so than the first round pick of Miles Plumlee. I think Johnson is still rough around the edges, but I liked the confidence he played with at times. He wasn’t afraid to shoot, and another year to work should make him a better player. This position of shooting guard is where the Pacers need the most help. So I do think he could end up playing some good minutes next season. But he’s got to make the most of those minutes.
Jeff Pendergraph and Ben Hansbrough I will lump together. Both guys played here and there. Both guys did what they could for the team. But I wouldn’t say they had much impact on what went on during the season. I think Pendergraph will be called upon more next season if Hansbrough isn’t around. Even with Hansbrough, he might get his number called up more. Pendergraph is an energy guy, and that’s what the Pacers’ second unit needs.
But just looking ahead, I think this Pacers’ bench will have to address the back up point guard position. You need to bring in some veteran that you know will solidify that position. A guy that can come in and lead on the floor. I don’t know what guy that is, but that’s on my list of criteria. I think if you could find a scorer as well, that would help things. Finally, the idea that Danny Granger could come off the bench is something the Pacers HAVE to really look at. I even hate saying that, but I want the starters all back together, and Granger could probably do so much for that bench if he was a member of it. I don’t know if he can play the minutes that he needs to as a starter, so 15-20 minutes off the bench could impact the Pacers a lot. It’s something that will have to be talked about with him, and I think if he feels like it’s for the team, he’ll do it. But this bench needs to improve for the Pacers to make it through that long haul of the season.