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Author Topic: Is Indiana Really Better Without J.O.?  (Read 1371 times)
UNIT
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« on: December 07, 2007, 08:31:07 am »
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So much has been said about Jermaine O’Neal and his place on the Indiana Pacers this season, that I’ve become exhausted by the mere mention of the sentence ‘The Pacers are better without Jermaine.’

I’m not here to rant and rave about his worth based solely on the team’s record without him, which I’ll admit is much better when his behind is firmly planted on the bench, instead I’ve come bearing numbers. O’Neal has appeared in thirteen games this season, as of Thursday evening, with Indiana posting a measly 4-9 record when he’s in uniform.

Basketball fans can be an impatient bunch, which explains why some Pacer fans have turned on O’Neal so quickly this season. While it’s true that Indiana has been more successful without Jermaine, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a better team without him for good.

O’Neal began the season on the bench as the Pacers were victorious over the Wizards in overtime. He returned for the team’s next game, against the Heat, and posted 10 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 blocks. Not exactly a pedestrian performance. Things went downhill from that point on though.

Indiana lost seven of nine games as O’Neal struggled to find his game, more because of his bulky knee than anything else. I say that because immediately following a disappointing 4-for-13 shooting performance against the Raptors, Jermaine and team doctors decided he needed to rest his gimpy appendage.

Once again, feeding into the theories of his harshest critics, the Pacers won four of five games with O’Neal on the sideline.

Jermaine returned to the court against Seattle last weekend, posting a respectable double-double in just twenty-seven minutes of play. This rested, seemingly healthy, version of O’Neal seems more like the player that finished third in the MVP voting three short years ago, than the one who struggled through his first ten games this season.

Let’s compare O’Neal’s numbers before and after his five-game rest:

Before: 13.2 points and 7.1 rebounds in 30.2 minutes per game.

After: 20.6 points and 12 rebounds in 30.0 minutes per game.

O’Neal’s individual plus-minus statistic for the 2007-08 season isn’t pretty, he has a -22 rating for the season. However, according to the Lenovo (+/-) statistic, O’Neal is part of two of the Pacer’s three most-efficient lineup combinations.

That leads me to believe that Jermaine plays well with his teammates, specifically Indiana’s starting five, but has struggled individually. The stats mentioned above separating his numbers before and after his five-game absence coincide with the theory that the Pacers aren’t a better team without Jermaine, but rather his knee has kept him from producing at the level we expect.

If Jermaine is going to silence his critics he’s going to have to do two things – maintain the torrid three-game pace he’s currently on, while winning some games for the Pacers. Assuming O’Neal’s knee can hold up, he’ll have the chance to achieve both of those goals as the Indiana battles the Magic, Cavaliers, Bulls, Raptors and Heat over the next eight days.

By then we should have a better barometer to judge him with, but hopefully his play will have made the decision for us.
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JamaicanGigal0w
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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2007, 02:27:30 pm »
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I'd wait for a few more games before I bring up the topic of if their better w/ him or w/o him. I'm not sure but I think the Pacers played more games w/o him than w/ him, and if I am wrong then they def played more w/ him "injured" than w/ him healthy. Until then I still say Pacers need to rebuild cuz like it or not he is most likely gonna opt out at the end of the season cuz theres a small chance the Pacers are making to the playoffs and NO WAY their making it to the finals. If JO wants to win he'll walk. JO can't win being the #1 guy, Indiana was 4-1 in his absence with wins over Denver, Dallas and New Orleans. They've lost two of three since his return
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olsons3
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2007, 03:35:35 pm »
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I can admit, I was on the "TradeJO Bandwagon".  My worry is that his being a superstar would upset the flow of this new dynamic offense.  The system they have in place doesn't require a superstar, it can be hindered by it.

The offense is easy.  Move the ball and the bodies until someone receives the ball in a position they feel comfortable shooting from, then shoot it.  IF you take good shots and miss them, it is perceived as better than taking a stupid shot and making it.

If JO can keep the motion going, and take the opportunities to score, when the opportunities are good, this could be a great year for the team, and a chance for his body to stay healthy.

He won't lead the league in scoring in this system, but we can win a lot of games.
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Boom Baby!!!!
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2007, 09:37:04 pm »
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Yes, I think we are - on offense, on offense he kills us - but defensively, he's one of the premier post defenders in the league and help defenders. I'm all for trading him as long as we can find someone to make up for his low post defensive presence. Cause all we really have now in terms of post defense is JO and Foster, although Diogu is improving
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