Final Report Card: Ron Mercer

by Conrad Brunner

May 22, 2003

By the Numbers: In 72 appearances, averaged 7.7 points on .409 shooting. ... The 72 games were his most since playing 80 as a rookie with Boston in 1997-98. ... Scoring average was a career-low. ... Averaged 11.4 points on .471 shooting in the first 17 games of the season, but 6.6 points on .384 shooting thereafter. ... Averaged 8.8 points on .452 points in victories, but 6.1 points on .341 shooting in losses. ... Team was 20-8 when he scored in double figures, 23-21 when he played and did not reach double figures. ... Prior to joining the Pacers, averaged 17.0 points in 4½ seasons but never made the playoffs. Since coming to Indiana, has averaged 7.3 points in 85 games but reached the playoffs twice

Playoffs: Averaged 22.5 minutes and 6.5 points but shot .327 from the field (16 of 49) in six games, all off the bench.

Plus-Minus: Ranked 12th at plus 28 (plus 0.4 per game) during the regular season, tied for seventh at minus 17 (minus 2.8 per game) during the playoffs.

Contract Status: Entering the final season of a reported four-year, $27 million contract.

Quote: "My whole thing now is just to go back, get ready, work out in the summer and kind of see what happens. I don't know if I'm going to be here. It's one of those things: you never know what can happen in the summer."

Analysis: Talented but inconsistent scorer who, despite a decline in point production, has enhanced his overall game since joining the Pacers. Regarded as a one-dimensional scorer before, accepted the challenge of a completely new and diminished role and proved himself a willing defender as well as a capable ballhandler and distributor when called upon. The best one-on-one scorer among the perimeter players, he uses speed, quickness and athleticism to get to the basket seemingly at will. Tends to rely too heavily on his mid-range jump shot, rather than attacking the basket, which is reflected by his average of just 2.3 free throws per 48 minutes, lowest among the regulars. A rhythm shooter who often struggles when minutes are limited. Has played both guard spots, though spent less time at point in 2002-03 than he may have anticipated. Has never been a 3-point shooter (.252 for his career), his effective range ends at around 20 feet.

Crystal Ball: Has the ability to become one of the most explosive sixth men in the league because he can play several positions and score from all three, but it remains to be seen how his role will evolve. He has just one season left on his contract, so next season is a very big one in terms of his future earning power.

Final Grade: B-minus.