The Indiana Pacers will be a very different team in personnel and style next season compared to the version we’ve come to know in recent years. One of those changes is turning Paul George into a power forward.
The definition of positions has changed in recent years. More small ball that focuses on stretching the floor and sometimes eliminates the need for big men. The Pacers think that George, who has mostly played small forward over the last three years (just six games in 2014-2015 because of his summer injury), will benefit from moving to the ‘4’ position.
George was actually a shooting guard during the first two seasons in the league while Danny Granger filled the ‘3’ spot. George took over that role and the Pacers made two consecutive conference finals, when George spent a lot of minutes guarding LeBron James and attacking him on the other end of the floor.
The failure of last season and the limitations of Roy Hibbert made the Pacers head in a different direction. After a few years of being very dominant on defense but a struggling, clunky team on offense, it was time to make a change. Faster basketball, small lineups, different players.
David West was part of that plan, but he left, hoping to find a championship ring elsewhere, signing with the San Antonio Spurs. The Pacers brought in Jordan Hill, Monta Ellis and Chase Budinger in free agency. It’s hard to say how this all fits in the puzzle Larry Bird sees in front of him.
George doesn’t expect to play too many minutes and certainly not all the minutes at the new position intended for him. Both Vogel and Bird thinks it’ll be better for George at the ‘4’; he’ll be more effective and free offensively, because he won’t be chasing 3’s around all game long, even though he was one of the best in the NBA when defending players on the wing before his injury.
Obviously, this is all very flexible and fluid. Teams change lineups during games and we see more and more creativity from head coaches when it comes to the lineups they put on the floor. But we’re not used to seeing that from the Pacers, who believe putting George at the ‘4’ won’t make him an easy target for opponents on defense, thinking size doesn’t make that much of a difference.