Did the Pacers Make a Mistake Letting Go of Darren Collison?

The Pacer organization has officially announced that Danny Granger will be out for three months in response to “an injection to treat left patellar tendinosis.”

This news casts a cloud over the bright hopes of the Indiana Pacers, who were aiming to build upon their near Eastern Conference Semi-Finals victory over the Miami Heat. The kind of injury is also bad break for both Granger and the Pacers because unlike tendonitis, which has a 4-to-6 week recovery period, tendinosis causes an athlete to endure a 3-to-6 month recovery process. The main difference between the two kinds of injuries is the presence of “inflammatory cells”. If these inflammatory cells are present, the injury is classified as tendonitis; if not, tendinosis is the diagnosis.

Frank Vogel, who instilled great confidence in the Pacer players last year, will have his own belief and coaching ability tested over the next three months.

Early on, the Pacers have struggled on the offensive side of the ball without Granger, who averaged 18.7 points a game for them last season. The team has only been scoring 91.0 points per game, which ranks as 25th overall in the league. In a shocking defeat to the Charlotte Bobcats, their offensive problems were highlighted, as they appeared disorganized and confused as to how to score in crunch time.

The need for Granger’s scoring punch is apparent, and calls for Paul George, David West, and Roy Hibbert to pick up the slack. West has shown an increase in scoring by four points, averaging 16.8 points a game so far.  Paul George has only scored two more points per game than last year, and will have to step up in order for Indiana to thrive. Roy Hibbert, on the other hand, has seen a drop in his scoring numbers, which are down from 12.8 a game last season to 8.8 thus far.

It is safe to say that though these three can carry some of the scoring load by committee, but they need a point guard who can get them easier shots. The team only averages 17.0 assists per game, ranking them 28th in the league. I believe George Hill is a bit responsible for the lack of assists, which have led to the early struggles on offense. Meanwhile, the former Pacer point guard, Darren Collison, is averaging 8.5 assists by himself in Dallas.

This leads me to think that the Pacers made a miscalculation when they elected to keep George Hill as their starter and trade Darren Collison to the Mavericks. If Collison’s play thus far is an indication of anything, it is that he should be the one running the Pacer offense as a starter while George Hill comes off the bench. Throughout Collison’s career, there has been a common thread: the more freedom he has in an offense, the better he plays. On a Dirk-less Mavs team, he has scored 16.5 points per game, dished out 8.5 assists a game, and has a PER of 19.69. When Chris Paul was sidelined with an injury in the 2009-10 season, Collison, who was just a rookie at the time, averaged 12 points a game while shooting 48% from the field, and had 5.7 assists a game. His play for that stretch was a big reason why he was traded to the Indiana Pacers, where he would find more minutes.

Last season, the Pacers as a team averaged 18.6 assists per game. The leader in assists was Darren Collison, who averaged 4.8 a game in comparison to George Hill’s 2.9. However, the data may be a bit skewed due to the fact that Collison played about 5 more minutes a game than Hill did. Despite this, Collision’s assist rate (40.89 for every 100 possessions) was considerably greater than Hill’s 30.89, per Hoopdata.com. Collison also got his Pacer teammates more shots at the rim, inside ten feet, and beyond the 3-point line. In addition, per 82 games.com, offensive units that were without Granger fared better with Collison playing the point guard spot than those that had Hill at the helm. These statistics point to Collison’s better fit within the Pacer offense.

Hill, by no stretch of the imagination, is a subpar player, but it is a bit too much to ask of Paul George, David West, and Roy Hibbert to make up for Granger’s scoring by taking tough shots. Therefore, I believe the Pacers made a fundamental mistake in trading Darren Collison. Although D.J. Augustine was brought in, I don’t believe he is as dynamic as Collison.

Written By Javeen Rob

Follow Javeen on Twitter: @JJRob15

 

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CEO/Founder of My Mind on Sports For More Information on Wilson, check out his Bio in the "Team" Section Follow Wilson on Twitter: @Willietspeaks

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