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On the NBA Beat Ep. 24a: Jared Wade: Pacers’ Frank Vogel Is a “Defensive Genius”

As we enter the stretch run, the Eastern Conference playoff picture is wide open, with ample room for jockeying. Jared Wade of Fansided’s 8 Points 9 Seconds stops by to illuminate the Indiana Pacers’ postseason prospects. The team boasts a healthy Paul George, as well as brand new contributors Monta Ellis and Myles Turner and a “defensive genius” in Frank Vogel. If you ask Wade, the rest of the East, outside of Cleveland and Toronto, better watch out! Choice cuts below:  

2:05-4:05 on the difference between last season and this for the Pacers: “Obviously Paul George… It’s changed the whole team him being there. Monta Ellis has been a big lift… The defense is still strong, even with the lack of Roy Hibbert and David West they’ve changed to a more turnover-forcing defense and they get a lot of points in transition… Myles Turner has proved that he deserves to be in the starting lineup and he’s been a force.”

5:10-6:43 on how Paul George has recovered from his devastating injury: “I think he’s as good as he was. In some ways, he’s improved… He was arguably the second best player in basketball through December 1st.”

8:50-9:05 on Paul George’s biggest weakness: “They’re turnover-prone. [For Paul George,] that’s probably his biggest flaw. He just throws some cavalier, careless passes. It’s mind-boggling at times that someone as good as him can throw some of the nonchalant, terrible passes that shouldn’t even be happening in a JV game.”

14:55-16:25 on George Hill: “He’s a little bit of a passive guy. Earlier in the year, that was actually paying dividends, because he was just camping out in the corner and making a lot of 3s… He’s maybe not a point guard, but he’s a very, very good basketball player. He can do everything. He’s a good shooter, he’s a good passer, he knows the offense, he runs the plays, he’s a fantastic defender in many ways… He’s a really smart, heady player.”

19:00-20:15 on Ian Mahinmi’s growth since Roy Hibbert’s departure: “Mahinmi actually is an athletic, large body, but he can move laterally and get out there and defend the pick ‘n roll in ways that Roy Hibbert just can’t…But his fatal flaw: he had the worst hands I’ve ever seen in my life. He just could not catch a pass… And now, I have no idea how it happened. He catches everything. He catches the ball on these dump-off situations, and he does up-and-under moves on the other side of the hoop. He catches balls sprinting in transition and just dunks. He’s getting to the point where, if he had someone to throw him better lobs, he’s almost like a poor man’s DeAndre Jordan right now. He’s finishing incredibly around the rim…He’s not young. He’s pushing 30, so I don’t how someone changes that at this stage in their career.”     

22:20-23:10 on part of Monta Ellis’ team-wide impact: “He’s supposedly the locker-room leader in a way that you wouldn’t think that Monta could be. He’s not the most vocal guy, but he has been more talking to the younger guys on the team, coaching people up. And what’s been big for the Pacers is they’re kind of a bunch of whiners, low key…whereas I can’t recall ever seeing him get demonstrative with the refs and stuff. It’s obviously not the biggest thing in the world, but it seems as though his personality is kind of rubbing off on the team a little bit. They seem to be whining a little bit less.”

27:00-27:20 on Frank Vogel’s primary strengths: “(Despite having a number of players not traditionally thought of as defenders), he still has them pretty high (third in Defensive Efficiency), and he’s transformed it (the defense). They’re forcing more turnovers. He’s letting them gamble more, going for steals. They’ve transitioned a little bit how they’re handling the pick ‘n roll and stuff. He’s just a really great defensive mind. I would say that’s his key attribute. And his positivity and demeanor.”

28:45-29:20 on the Pacers’ postseason prospects: “I still don’t trust them. They still have too many turnovers. They still don’t have great late-game defense. But since the break, they’ve beaten the Thunder, the Spurs…I’m starting to trust them. They’ve still got issues, but with Paul George and Monta Ellis doing what they’ve been doing lately, they’ve been pretty consistent. The defense is still there, generally. I think they can beat anyone in the East except obviously Cleveland and probably Toronto. I don’t think they can beat Toronto either…They have a high ceiling when both those guys are hitting.” 

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod