There’s no doubt that the Indiana Pacers are having a terrific season, especially considering that they’ve played the entire year without their star Danny Granger. They’ve done so with the emergence of Paul George as another star on their roster and league-leading defense and rebounding.
Indiana allows just 89.9 points per game to their opponents this season, the only team in the NBA to allow less than 90 per game. They also grab 45.9 rebounds per game and lead the league in rebound-differential as well at +4.6. Those are the two main reasons that they are 33-21 and only a half-game behind the New York Knicks for second place in the Eastern Conference.
However, if there’s one area that the Pacers have struggled this entire season, it’s with their bench-production.
For the season, their starting five has accounted for 70.9 percent of their scoring and 67.1 percent of their rebounding. Obviously, a team wants their starters to do the majority of the work, but those percentages are on the borderline of being absurdly high.
The player with the highest scoring average on the Pacers’ bench is Tyler Hansbrough at a paltry 6.6 points per game and the player with the highest rebounding on their bench is Ian Mahinmi at just 3.8 boards per contest. That’s just the way it’s been for the Pacers, especially on offense.
As soon as the second-unit for Indiana hits the floor, their offense immediately begins to sputter and struggle to put points on the board. They don’t have anyone coming off the bench that provides them a threat on that end of the floor. Sure, they remain solid defensively, but defense doesn’t matter if you can’t score points.
Granger is expected to return sooner rather than later, which will obviously help this problem. He’ll come off the bench while he’s getting re-acclimated to the game and then will move Lance Stephenson to the bench. However, Stephenson is averaging only 8.5 points per game as a starter, so he’s not going to provide too much production off the bench.
The Pacers should have looked to make a move at the trade deadline for some bench-scoring, but that didn’t happen. Now that they are stuck with the roster they have, Indiana has to find a player or a few players that can come in and produce off the pine.
Right now, the Pacers are definitely enjoying a lot of success. However, if they continue to get this minimal production from their bench, that success won’t last long when they get into the playoffs.