The Indiana Pacers are joining the NBA's 'small-ball' movement, and their best player isn't happy

More and more teams are gradually joining the NBA’s small-ball shift in order to find more spacing on offence and more quickness on defence.

Small-ball systems typically push each player up a position, at times eliminating a traditional power forward or center altogether. By putting, most commonly, a small forward at power forward, defences have to respect the shooting and perimeter style of smaller players, thus creating more room inside of the three-point arc.

The Indiana Pacers are on board with this style this season, pushing star wing player Paul George to start at power forward, according to Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel revealed to Buckner that after months of speculation, the Pacers plan to play George at power forward, or the “four,” this season. The Pacers believe George’s ball-handling and shooting will give their offence a new dynamic without hurting them much on defence.

On paper, this sounds great… Except to Paul George, who went on 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis and didn’t give a glowing review of the switch, saying, “I’m not thrilled on it.”

George spoke about how he thinks he can outsmart bigger players, but thinks teams will go after him to get him in foul trouble. He continued. “I don’t have a problem doing it. I told them I’m open for the change. If it works, it works, if it doesn’t, let’s get me back to my position and let’s get me back to playing on the perimeter.” 

George acknowledged that he and his teammates have played pick-up games with him at the four in small-ball units and said they have been crushing teams. He can see the benefits of it.

However, later, Buckner talked to George, and he sounded off on Vogel penciling him in as the power forward:

Unfortunately for George, the Pacers are built to play small this season. After trading Roy Hibbert and letting David West walk, the Pacers didn’t make a concentrated push to replace their starting big men. Much of their front-court consists of big men from the bench last year and players from the scrap heap in free agency.

As George notes, however, it will be a bit of an experiment. In certain matchups, George, surrounded by shooters and slashers, could be deadly at the four, particularly because of his play-making and athleticism. Other times, he’ll be outmatched, and will get to slide to his more natural position at the three.

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