The Pacers are perhaps one of the sadder on-court stories in the last five years. They went from Eastern Conference powerhouse to fighting for a playoff spot year after year.
As recently as 2014, they were going toe-to-toe with LeBron James’ Heat teams. With a trio of young, rising stars in Paul George, Lance Stephenson and (kinda young) Roy Hibbert, the Pacers were the next big thing.
Then everything fell apart. Stephenson left for Charlotte and Hibbert disappeared even before he left for La La Land. Worst of all, Paul George ended up missing nearly all of the 2014-15 season due to injury.
The Jazz are far more removed from their last string of relevance. The last time they made their conference finals was the 2006-07 season with Deron Williams and company. But both of these teams are building their cores in a similar way.
Both the Jazz and Pacers have put together a trio consisting of a point guard, small forward and center. For the Jazz that’s George Hill, Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert. For Indiana it’s Jeff Teague, George and the 20-year-old Myles Turner.
When you compare the two trios you will find some notable differences, but they end up doing a lot of the same things for each team.
On both teams you get scoring from the wing (21.8 and 22.4 from Hayward and George), secondary scoring with distributing from the point guards (17/4 and 15/8 from Hill and Teague) and all the lovely things that bigmen do from Turner and Gobert (rebounding, interior defense etc.)
As I said it’s hard to compare each of these players head on. You can if you’re comparing George and Hayward, but not the rest. Teague and Hill play different styles and contribute differently and let’s not even get started on the differences between Turner and Gobert. But both teams have amassed a talented players from their frontcourt to their backcourt.
While the players behind the core players on either team are different (Jazz have young, inexperienced players mixed with veterans while the Pacers have mostly washed-up veterans) the strategy moving forward is the same. Build around the trio assembled.
Let’s hope that someday these two teams meet in the finals.