Chris Copeland, C.J Watson bringing 3-pt shooting to the Pacers
While the Pacers were Central Divison NBA champs this past season and took the Heat to 7 games in the Eastern Conference Finals, their 3-point shooting was a liability. They were ranked 16th in 3-pointers made and 22nd in 3-point percentage during the regular season and ninth in 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage during the postseason.
With the signing of Chris Copeland from the Knicks and C.J. Watson from the Nets, the Pacers could lessen their 3-point liability in the upcoming season. Copeland’s .421 and Watson’s .411 3-point percentages are better than any Pacer player who took a significant number of 3-point shots this past season. Jeff Pendergraph led the Pacers with a .500 3-point percentage but was 2-4 and will be playing for the Spurs next season. Behind Pendergraph were Orlando Johnson with a .396 and George Hill with a .368 3-point shooting percentage
Additionally, Copeland’s 3-point shooting will bring a different dimension to the power forward position. Copeland, who is seen as playing as a stretch 4 for the Pacers, shot 59 3-pointers for the Knicks in comparison to a total of six for all the Pacers power forwards in 2013-13. In addition to Pendergraph’s two 3-pointers, David West had 4, and Tyler Hansbrough and Miles Plumlee, had no 3-pointers this past season. Comparing shot charts of the best scoring games in 2012-13 of Copeland, and Tyler Hansbrough, who will be with the Raptors in 2013-14, Copeland takes shots all over the court, while Hansbrough concentrates his game near the basket.
Besides having a better 3-point shooting percentage than D.J. Augustin (.353), who Watson will be replacing in the Pacers’ lineup next season, he also had more 3-pointers (88 versus 67). In a comparison of each player’s shot chart from his best game of the 2012-2013 season, Augustin tended to score from the 3-point line whereas Watson got field goals inside as well.
On the flip side, both Copeland and Augustin made it to the free throw line fewer times and made fewer free throws than the players they will be replacing. Hansbrough got to the free throw line 300 times in 2012-13 and made 216 for a .720 free throw percentage. While Copeland’s free throw percentage of .759 in 2012-2013 exceeded Hansbrough’s, Copeland made only 83 trips to the free throw line and made 63. Augustin got to the free throw line more times in 2012-13 (83) than Watson (71), and his .838 free throw percentage surpassed Watson’s .780 mark.
Hansbrough’s departure from the Pacers also will leave a rebounding hole that Copeland may not be able to fill completely. Hansbrough averaged 4.6 rebounds per game compared to Copeland’s 2.1. The highest number of rebounds Copeland has this past season was 9 against the Wizards on Apr. 9. Hansbrough had 10 or more rebounds eight times this past season with a high of 14 against Orlando on Mar. 19. Watson may be able to fill part of that hole because of his 1.8 rebounds per game performance in 2012-13 compared to Augustin’s 1.2. That void also could be filled by Pacers’ shooting guard Lance Stephenson. Stephenson had double rebound figures in six games during postseason play compared to two the entire 2012-13 regular season. In recent summer league play, Plumlee had a 16-15 game against the 76ers.
The addition of Copeland and Watson should make the 2013-14 Pacers a different team that the 2012-13 squad. But only the 2013-14 season will tell if those differences will be enough to propel the Pacers to become the 2013 NBA Champions.
By: Deb Considine- Pass the Pill Contributor