With 25 games left in the regular season, it’s time for the Pacers to explore the waiver-wire for someone who can help improve a key weakness: rebounding.
Let’s cut to the chase. The Indiana Pacers are not the best rebounding team.
Indiana’s 41.7 rebounds per game is good enough to be tied with Minnesota (how are they that low?) for 23rd in the league. The Pacers are pretty consistent in that ranking too, they’re also 23rd in offense and defensive rebounding, which is kind of funny because you’d think it would fluctuate more than that. Oh well.
It doesn’t really take all that much to jump up in the rebounding rankings. The difference between the Association-leading Philadelphia 76ers and Association-caboose Milwaukee Bucks is eight boards a game (in real numbers). The Pacers trail the Sixers by five rebounds, which doesn’t seem like an impossible gulf to bridge.
Indiana has been improving this month. Since February began, Indiana is 15th in the league in rebounding average, which is a nice positive step. The only issue with it is that the Pacers -outside of Domantas Sabonis who has easily been Indiana’s most consistent rebounder- is that the Pacers rebound like fireworks.
Ooooh! Thaddeus Young snared 11 rebounds against the Knicks and 14 against the Celtics!
Aaahh! Lance Stephenson ripped down 9 against the Wizards!
But those are the peaks, the blasts that leave you awestruck. The whole picture is far more sporadic.
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Young (Indiana’s third-leading rebounder) has rebounded in double-figures five times this season but has also finished with five boards or less 18 times. Stephenson (fourth on the team) has been over ten 4 times and under four 26 times. Myles Turner (second best) has been in double-figures 6 times and low single-digits 10 times.
Now if the recent trend of league-average rebounding continues, then there is little cause for concern. But since even a two rebound-per-game boost in the average would elevate Indiana from 23rd overall to 15th, a booster shot might be just what the doctor ordered.
This puts the Pacers in a fortunate situation if they so choose to act upon it. Among all the teams with a winning record in the league, the only team with notable cap space and a vacant roster spot is Indiana.
And while Cleveland and Milwaukee both need a post presence, the lack of rim-protection is what’ll burn them, not the rebounding. In other words, they both need a center not a power forward. And center is a position the Pacers are well-endowed with (Turner, Sabonis, et al.)
The quickest fix would be to search the waver-wire and find an available power forward who has experience coming off the bench and grabbing those couple rebounds that could turn Indy from a sub-standard rebounding team into a standard one. And to save you time I found two.
Boris Diaw — PF — 35 years old – Levallois Metropolitans (France)
Diaw is most famous from his tour of duties with the run-and-gun Phoenix Suns (2005-08) and the title-winning San Antonio Spurs (2011-16). He’s made a career out of being a reliable yet modestly producing role-player (8.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg over 14 seasons, frequently as a reserve).
But Diaw’s nimble-footed and makes the winning plays that you need in a playoff run. He also has a decent shooting touch (33.6%) from deep, which in comparable Frank Kaminsky. He’ll be available when his French season ends, since his contract with Levallois contains an opt out clause that allows him to sign with an NBA team.
While, I’m sure some of you would scoff, thinking he’d rather play for a “contender”, consider this. Indiana has the tenth best record in the league, and are two games behind division leading Cleveland.
Of those nine teams with better records, five (Golden State, Houston, Boston, San Antonio and Milwaukee) don’t have roster spots open. Washington and Minnesota are looking for help at guard.
That leaves Cleveland and Toronto. Diaw has a loosely-described similar skill-set to Kevin Love – Love is just better at everything- so they’re probably looking for someone a little different. Toronto would be interesting. They are well over the cap and a little heavy in the post but he’d be an interesting fit.
What Indiana offers is this: a playoff team where he can make a difference, a defined role, and nearly $7 Million that could provide a not-too-shabby salary for a couple months work. It’d behoove the Pacers to at least check the interest level.
Josh McRoberts — PF — 30 years old – late of the Dallas Mavericks
This succinct article lays out Josh McRoberts‘ availability: namely, he was just bought out by Dallas who didn’t really want him much in the first place.
McRoberts’ stats aren’t going to blow anyone away (5.4 ppg and 3.9 rpg), and he’s been ineffective over the last 3 years, mostly do to injuries and whatnot. However He shot over 41% from deep in two of the last three seasons, so it’s not like he can’t stretch the floor a little.
If Indiana can’t land Diaw, this former Pacer might do the trick: spell a starter for a few minutes, grab a couple rebounds and hit the occasional three-pointer. Anything he could provide would help; it just might improve one of the Pacers biggest weaknesses.