Pacers are in trouble with Paul George at the 4

Posted on Oct 4 2015 - 8:00am by Sam Dusenbury Jr

It was only a couple seasons ago when pundits were all lining up saying Paul George was going to be the rival of LeBron James. They would state that he matches up with a similar size and skill set to the best player in the world. So in preparation for his first full season since that horrible leg injury back at that Team USA scrimmage in 2014, the Pacers have re-built their roster to showcase a player who can slash, shoot, handle and distribute the rock at the appropriate position of…..power forward.

George was told back in April that the team planned on using him at the 4 spot, something that even now in October still befuddles not only him but his teammates.

The Pacers revamped their roster this off season by letting traditional low post threats David West and Roy Hibbert go and replaced them in the starting lineup with smallish shooting guard Monta Ellis via free agency and elevating holdover small forward CJ Miles to a starting role. Add in point guard George Hill along with George and they essentially will be playing four wing players around center Ian Mahinmi.

The Knicks tried this a couple seasons ago with Carmelo Anthony playing the power forward spot with a great degree of success against teams with no relevant size but it was the Pacers traditional front line of West and Hibbert that exposed the flaws in that strategy and eliminated them in the second round of the playoffs.

The recent championship run of the Warriors has teams flooding their rosters with tweeners and smallish guards who can all chuck it up and while the Dubs should be a contender to repeat I favor teams with traditional lineups to take them out. To revamp your roster around the notion of playing your best player out of position is something that will doom the Pacers this season.

Paul George is a upper echelon small forward who averaged 22, 7 and 4 back in 2013 while becoming one of the better wing defenders in the league. To now put him on the block to guard bigs for 82 games coming off of a leg injury is a idiotic strategy. George is not big enough nor strong enough to get buckets in the paint and compete against the better front lines in the league.

You can dominate in the regular season because there are plenty of teams like the Pacers with no quality big men but when you face the top tier teams in the league sans the Warriors you need to have a low post presence. For all the advantages you have in smaller quicker players going against slower bigger players on offense you can get taken advantage of defensively with that same size and strength. The Pacers are trying to switch up their philosophy with the hopes of turning Paul George into Draymond Green but that’s going to be an awful fit.

Larry Bird and Frank Vogel are putting their faith in George changing positions, Ellis blending in and chucking it up at a less frequent rate, Hill finally becoming that upper echelon point guard that was worth giving up Kawhi Leonard and hoping CJ Miles is more than an effective sixth man. I can say right now that three of those things are not going to happen.

The Pacers will be a playoff team thanks the dearth of talent in the east but the days of putting the Pacers as a top four seed in the Eastern Conference are essentially over thanks to a flawed attempt to copycat the reigning champs albeit with a significant drop off in talent and components.

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