With starting point guard George Hill out injured the last two games, the Indiana Pacers have undertaken an interesting experiment: using Evan Turner at point guard.
Turner, a wing by trade, played point guard at Ohio State and dabbled at the position in Philadelphia. In Indiana, he was expected to take Danny Granger’s minutes as backup small forward. But Hill’s injury has afforded the Pacers to give him a longer look at point guard.
So far, the results have been extreme.
When backup point guard C.J. Watson and third-stringer Donald Sloan – each elevated a spot without Hill – are on the bench and Turner plays (via nbawowy):
- Offensive rating: 95.2
- Defensive rating: 76.2
- Net rating: +19.0
In other words, with Turner at point guard, Indiana plays like the NBA’s worst offense, best defense and best team. Those lineups have played just 13 minutes, so major sample-size caveats apply, though.
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But we can still see the beginnings of a concept.
With Turner the designated one, Stephenson sometimes assumes point-guard duties when he grabs the defensive rebound. Stephenson does the same with Hill, but is maybe less prone to deferring to Turner.
The Pacers play at a plodding pace of 76.6, influenced by Turner’s presence on both ends of the ball.
On offense, the 6-foot-7 Turner is slower than a typical point guard and more measured in his attacks. He doesn’t really push the ball to create transition opportunities.
Defensively, opponents are flummoxed with Indiana’s taller lineups – often just passing the ball around the perimeter, afraid to throw an entry pass over or through the field of long arms. The number of long jumpers the Pacers have forced these last two games is in line with their season percentage – except when Turner plays point guard. Then, it skyrockets.
Of course, these last two games – wins over the Celtics and Jazz – are unrepresentative in more ways than they’re representative. Those opponents are just far beneath average quality.
Before the Pacers’ schedule gets tougher into the playoffs, they need to know whether lineups with Turner at point guard can give them an edge. It’s an interesting process playing out as Indiana hits an otherwise relatively meaningless stretch run.