Indiana Pacers: Why the Early Season Struggles Are Something to Worry About

Ryan ReedCorrespondent IINovember 29, 2012

Nov 9, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Pacers 96-94. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

The Indiana Pacers have struggled in the early goings of the 2012-13 season, stumbling to a 7-8 record while losing five out of eight conference games.

There is still hope for the Pacers squad, especially after a close victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, but the team has played so inconsistently that it is impossible to say just what type of play fans will see on any given night.

Some of this can be explained by the absence of Danny Granger, but there seems to be other deep-rooted problems within this roster that should give fans something to worry about.

The Ineffectiveness of Paul George:

The struggles of Paul George have been well documented this season. The shooting guard is averaging 15 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, which looks good from the surface, but is actually slightly more troubling.

Part of the worry is that George is shooting only 40.9 percent from the field, but this is a number that has been improving lately. Where his statistics look worse, however, is when one delves into his advanced stats.

For instance, George has an offensive rating of 98, meaning he produces an average of 98 points per 100 possessions. That has dropped significantly from the 108 rating that he had last season. Also, George has a very poor offensive win share, with just .1 so far this season.

While his defense has been getting better, Paul George is simply struggling on offense much more than anybody would have expected. This should worry Pacers fans who saw George as the future of Indiana Pacer basketball.

He has started to pick up his numbers a little bit after a slow start, but George has handled the offensive limelight far poorer than anybody would have hoped for, which is a bad sign for the future.

The Offensive Inefficiency of Roy Hibbert:

Like Paul George, Roy Hibbert has struggled mightily on the offensive end so far this season. Hibbert is averaging a mere 9.5 points per game on 38.8 percent shooting, both huge drops from last year.

Unfortunately, Hibbert does not look much better on offense when you look at his per 36 minutes scoring average, which sits at a lowly 11.8 points per game.

Finally, it is important to also take a look at the offensive rating and offensive win share of Roy Hibbert. So far this season, Hibbert has an offensive rating of 90, down a huge 18 points from his 108 last season. To make it even worse, Roy actually has a negative win share on offense, meaning his offense has lost more games for the Pacers than it has won.

Also like George, Hibbert is playing his best basketball ever on the defensive end. Still, he is being payed like a franchise corner-piece at this point and needs to be able to carry the offense at times during the game, something he has proven he cannot do yet.

The Age and Contract of David West:

Throughout this season, David West has been the most consistently good player on the Pacers roster. To this point, West has only had one game in which he hasn't scored in double digits.

So far, West is averaging 16.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 46.7 percent from the floor. Those numbers are all significantly better than last season, except for the shooting percentage, which has dipped slightly.

Without David West, this team would struggle. This reality becomes an issue once David West becomes a free agent after this season. West is responsible for 1.6 win shares and has an offensive rating of 106, both difficult numbers to replace.

Still, the Pacers have a difficult decision to make when it comes to re-signing West. For one, another team may very well pay West more than Indiana is comfortable with. David has been a reliable part of the team, but he is 32 years old and just a few years removed from a serious knee injury.

Indiana will be in a difficult position this offseason since re-signing or passing on David West each presents its own risks. West has earned a big contract from some team based on his play so far this year, which may be a problem for the Pacers.

The Regression of Gerald Green:

Gerald Green was never expected to carry the Indiana Pacers, but he sure was supposed to do more than he has done so far this season.

So far, Green is averaging 7.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and .5 assists on 37.3 percent shooting. While his rebounding is up slightly, Green is scoring five points less per game while shooting more than 10 percent worse than last season.

Gerald Green looks even worse when you look at his advanced stats. His win shares per 48 minutes is at .054, down from .072 last season and well below the league average of .100. Furthermore, Green has seen both his offensive and defensive ratings drop significantly, with an offensive rating going from 103 to 94 and defensive rating dropping from 109 to 102.

Essentially, Gerald Green has been a much worse player than he was last season. Obviously he was not supposed to be the best player on this team, but solid play would have been extremely helpful with the absence of Danny Granger.

Unfortunately, Green is under contract with the Pacers for two more years after this one. While he seemed like he would be a good contributor for those three years, it appears that Gerald Green has already had his best year as a pro and will not prove very useful for Indiana.