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INDIANAPOLIS – The quiet time of the offseason is officially here for the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers wrapped up their Summer League on Friday afternoon, after playing 5 games in Las Vegas.
Now, the Pacers will go their separate ways for the next two months before Training Camp calls in September.
At this year’s Summer League, the Pacers got an extended look at T.J. Leaf after a year in the NBA, plus saw draft picks Aaron Holiday and Alize Johnson for a handful of games.
What did we learn about those 3 players in Vegas, where the Pacers (2-3), who were coached by Fort Wayne Mad Ants head coach Steve Gansey this summer?
-Pros: Give credit to Leaf for bouncing back from a very disappointing first summer league game. He was better the last few games, showing some ability to make a play off the dribble and finish in the paint area. Leaf didn’t look like that big of a defensive liability in Vegas, although he was playing out of position a bit, mostly as the 5-man, with the Summer League starting lineup.
-Cons: Things just continue to look a step slow for Leaf. He doesn’t play through contact well with a limited array of moves once he puts the ball on the floor. Surprisingly, Leaf didn’t shoot the ball well from three-point range in Vegas (20 percent from behind the arc). Nothing Leaf showed in Vegas makes one think he should all of a sudden definitely be an every night rotational piece. Leaf sat out the final 6 quarters in Vegas with a sore left knee.
-Pros: Unlike Leaf, Holiday had a very nice summer league debut in 2018. In match-ups against top-10 picks Collin Sexton and Trae Young, Holiday was in attack mode, not backing down from wanting to prove himself. Holiday did a nice job of finishing at the rim, with both hands, which was a question for a guy of his height.
-Cons: Decision making has to get better. Way too many turnovers for Holiday (5.0 turnovers per game in Vegas), which was an area that plagued him at UCLA this past season. After shooting the ball really well in Game One, the point guard struggled from the field the rest of the way. Of course in the NBA, he won’t have to nearly be the creator as option No. 1, like he was in the summer league. Holiday sat out the final game in Vegas with a thigh contusion.
-Pros: This guy just always finds the ball. The impressive rebounding pedigree of Johnson was apparent in Vegas. He averaged 8.6 rebounds in only 23 minutes per game. Johnson creates extra possessions and offense on his own, something the Pacers don’t have a definite clone for on their NBA roster. It’s also intriguing to see Johnson put the ball on the floor and start a fast break off a rebound. He can be a bit of a point forward at times.
-Cons: Johnson’s jump shot is not a thing of beauty. That shooting stroke needs maintenance before Johnson becomes a frequent rotational player in the NBA. The 6-9 forward needs to clean up his ball-handling a bit as well, developing more of a left hand which would enhance his ability to push the ball.
Other Summer League Notes:
-It just looks like Edmond Sumner would be well-served with a full season in Fort Wayne as their starting point guard. He still doesn’t look all the way back from that ACL injury. Get him a year in the G-League of running a team and then you can properly evaluate if Sumner indeed has a realistic shot at competing for back-up point guard reps next season (with Darren Collison and Cory Joseph in contract years).
-I don’t know if there’s room on the Pacers’ roster for Ben Moore, but his efficiency is hard not to notice. Moore, who is 6-7 and 203 pounds, just seems to make the right play more often than not. He should at least be a guy the Pacers have in Fort Wayne again next year. Moore, 23, played 2 games with the Pacers last season.
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