by Conrad Brunner
June 2, 2003
By the Numbers: Ranked sixth in the NBA in assists (7.5), 10th in steals (1.71) and 13th in assist-turnover ratio (2.85) in his second season. Also averaged 7.8 points and shot .396 overall and .277 from the 3-point line. … After posting 17 double-doubles as a rookie, had just eight more. … In the final seven games, averaged 8.8 assists with an assist-turnover ratio of 3.43. … He and Ron Artest were the first Pacers teammates with at least 100 steals each since Derrick McKey and Mark Jackson in 1994-95. … Had a team-high 11 assists to lead the Sophomores to a victory over the Rookies in the “got milk?” Rookie Challenge over the All-Star break. … Cut his turnovers from 3.4 as a rookie to 2.6 this season, and improved all three of his shooting percentages, albeit slightly.
Playoffs: Averaged 30.8 minutes, 8.5 points, 6.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds in six starts. Shot .571 from the field, which would’ve led the league with enough attempts. Shot .615 from the 3-point line, which ranked second among all postseason players. In the first four games of the Boston series, averaged 11.8 points and 9.3 assists. In the last two, totaled four points and two assists.
Plus-Minus: Ranked sixth during the regular season at plus 148 (plus 2.0 per game). Ranked first during the playoffs at plus 1 (plus 0.2 per game).
Contract Status: Entering the third season of a reported four-year, $3.9 million deal.
Quote: “This year, we came back strong and started real good. Then at the All-Star break, we just like went into a wall, you know? We were trying to fight out of it. To go back in the summertime and look over what we did this year, it's tough, knowing that we could've been real good and knowing that we all let ourselves down.”
Analysis: Persevered through a difficult season, personally. Missed six games in February and March due to the illness, and eventual death, of his mother. Averaging 8.3 points on .404 shooting before she fell ill, he averaged 6.4 points on .368 shooting the rest of the way. Though he experienced slight increases in all three of his shooting percentages and a decline in turnovers from his rookie season, his overall performance didn’t show the improvement that was anticipated as a sophomore. Reported to camp in shape after a rigorous offseason workout and got off to a quick start, averaging 9.8 points and 7.9 assists in his first 20 games, but tailed off thereafter. A superb passer with excellent court vision and anticipation, he is at his best in the open floor but often found himself running alone. Spotty perimeter shooting can make him a liability in the halfcourt, and most of his defensive contributions are made off the ball.
Crystal Ball: Though he has most of the skills to become a premier pure point guard, he has yet to assert himself into that role. Team president Donnie Walsh put him on notice after the season, saying he needed to work on “his body, his shooting, his ability to get to the goal,” while adding that the Pacers would be looking for backcourt help during the summer. Whether that means finding a veteran to back up Tinsley or replace him remains to be seen.
Final Grade: C-plus.