– Will Blalock: The Pacers have been said to be looking for a point guard all summer long now. They kept Jamaal Tinsley inactive for all of last season, despite him being able and willing to play. Jarrett Jack is a restricted free agent, and even though he’s expected back, he isn’t really a point guard anyway. Neither is Travis Diener, and they seem to hate T.J. Ford more than it seems as though they should. But while Will Blalock is very much a point guard, I don’t think the answer to the Pacers’ point guard problem lies in a man who averaged 4.5 points and 2.1 assists in the German league last season.
Byars’ three point percentage by month, last season:
November – 0%
December – 56%
January – 28%
February – 50%
March – 26%
April – 0%
Overall – 38%
It might be a coincidence that the two months he shot the most threes in were December and February. Or it might not.
– Tyler Hansbrough: Us Bulls fans discussed at length whether it would be a good idea to pick Tyler Hansbrough at #26. We eventually decided on “yes”. As draft day approached, we moved on to discussing whether it’d be justifiable to pick Hansbrough as high as #16. Opinion was split, but the majority said “no”. Turns out it was irrelevant anyway, as Indiana went for him at #13. And, since it’s the 2009 draft we’re talking about, I think they can get away with that.
– Roy Hibbert: Frank admission – Roy Hibbert is better than I thought he would be. He can score at the NBA level. Just can. He’d be better if he toned down the shot block attempts and focused more on the rebounding, and that foul rate is pretty ridiculous, but not many 22-year-old rookie centres can score at that rate. Once he stops being Bargnani-ish on the defensive glass, he’ll be goooood.
– Jared Homan: The Ho-Man played 16 games in the EuroLeague last year as a member of Cibona Zagreb, which is a very high standard of basketball for any man to be playing. Unfortunately, he didn’t play very well in them, averaging only 4.6 points and 3.3 rebounds, along with 2.4 fouls. His size and athleticism combination is still a virtue, but his size and athleticism combination is also nothing special by NBA standards. And nor is his age (26). Still, Rasho Nesterovic is a free agent, which opens up a space on the Pacers for a new centre.
– Aaron Jackson: Jackson broke the freak out last year, averaging 19.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game, with percentages of 55.4%, 40.5% and 80.9%. Those numbers are up across the board from the year before, and his scoring output was more than doubled from his junior to senior years. Learning to shoot can do wonders for a man’s game. If he’d been in a less point guard-heavy draft, or at a school more noteworthy than Duquense, then he might have gotten drafted. As it is, he’s now fighting Will Blalock for a training camp spot, a fight that both will probably lose.
– Trey Johnson: Johnson briefly played in the NBA last season, signing a couple of ten-day contracts with the Cavaliers. He only scored four points, all from the foul line, but it’s an NBA career at least. When he wasn’t at the big dance, he was in the D-League, living up to his first name with the Bakersfield Jam. Johnson scored 21 points per game in 41 minutes per game, shooting 46% from the field and 41% from the three-point line. If he can start playing better defence, he might go down as the best player in the history of Jackson State. But until then, that title belongs to Lindsey Hunter. Or Purvis Short.
– Leo Lyons: I watched a lot of Missouri last year. It was hard not to, because they did pretty well. J.T. Tiller is my boy. But my opinion of Lyons isn’t highly flattering. He has some touch, some athleticism, and his wild flails to the rim are effective. But he makes a load of mistakes, doesn’t really have NBA size, and nor was his heart really in it defensively. If he was a sophomore, he would have been one to keep an eye on. But he wasn’t.
– Josh McRoberts: McRoberts finally got some PT last season, and in doing so he put up an almost identical PER to that of Marquis Daniels. He’s also grown a brilliant beard, and either is or was dating Lauren Conrad from MTV’s The Hills. Not a bad year for McBob, all told. He’s a restricted free agent, but he’ll return.
– A.J. Price: If drafting three straight seniors out of big programs wasn’t enough of a clue (Hibbert, Rush, Hansbrough), then the Pacers picking Price in the second round this year ought to have alerted you to the fact that Larry Bird watches the NCAA Tournament. More importantly, if the Pacers really are serious about getting an extra point guard regardless of how many options they already have, I would imagine that Price has a beeline on that spot right now. But that’s only if they do. (By the way, I just spent ten minutes trying to think up a plausible Jamaal Tinsley trade scenario. But I couldn’t do it. Is there not room for him in Indiana to rebuild his value just a little bit?)
– Brandon Rush: Rush’s rookie year wasn’t good, scoring inefficiently and ranking last on the team in plus/minus rating. But he has an opportunity here; Marquis Daniels is an unrestricted free agent, Mike Dunleavy’s knee is reportedly all kinds of haggard, and new signing Dahntay Jones is a defensive specialist. There’s minutes available for Rush, then, if he can figure out how to get to the foul line more than once a week.
– Anthony Smith: Smith averaged 17.6 points and 6.5 rebounds for Liberty last year. And here’s a Googled factoid:
As a junior, Smith was the only player in the nation during the 2008 season to attempt at least 200 three-point field goals and succeed on at least 40 percent of his three-point field goal attempts (41.0), while also hitting over 50 percent of his field goal attempts (51.5). Only four other players in the nation accomplish the same feat while attempting at least 100 three-point field goals, including Mario Chalmers (Kansas), Lee Cummard (BYU), Malik Hairston (Oregon) and James Harden (Arizona State).
Despite the apparent brilliance of his jump shot, though, he never shot over 66% from the foul line in his four-year NCAA career. And that’s all I’ve got.
– Scott VanderMeer: It’s difficult to find out information on Scott VanderMeer, since I’ve seen his surname spelt four different ways; VanderMeer, Vander Meer, van der Meer, and Van De Meer. Really helps things along, that. But here’s what I’ve got anyway: VanderMeer is a seven-footer who just shot 40% in the seminal Horizon League. The best part of his NCAA resumé is probably his shot-blocking, to the tune of 2.1 blocks per game last year, an output which he’ll have to roughly treble to trouble an NBA roster. Nevertheless, here’s a seven-minute highlight video.