Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird previously said small forward Paul George will slide into a stretch-4 role during the 2015-16 season, and the Hall of Famer isn’t straying from that.
According to the Associated Press via ESPN, Bird repeated his thoughts when the team announced the addition of three players. Bird said:
“I’m not going to get into a battle about where Paul George will play. He’s a basketball player, and we can put him anywhere out there.”
Bird wants the Pacers to play faster, and moving George to the power forward spot opens space for another shooter to enter the lineup. It also gives Indiana its best chance to win.
The Pacers can open games with newly signed Jordan Hill at center, Chris Copeland at power forward and George at the three. Free agent Monta Ellis and returning point guard George Hill would round out the backcourt, so Indiana’s starting lineup is respectable.
But in all likelihood, the Pacers will find their most success when George joins Jordan Hill or Myles Turner up front, while Ellis, George Hill and C.J. Miles roam the perimeter. The team will sacrifice some defense for an improved offensive attack, but as Bird said, the net-positive is what matters.
“[If] we score eight points more per game and give up two points more per game, that’s plus six.”
George is a threat from any distance, and Ellis can demand attention in the pick-and-roll, which creates a little extra separation around the arc. George Hill and Miles have connected on 37.0 and 34.9 percent of their career attempts from three-point range, respectively.
Indiana must address some weaknesses on their bench in order to contend for an Eastern Conference crown, but a small-ball lineup featuring George as a stretch 4 makes the Pacers a dangerous squad.
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