Player Analysis: Brandon Rush
May 24, 2011
LOOKING BACK: After opening the season with a five-game NBA suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, Rush hit the floor with a flourish. He averaged 13.0 points in his first 20 appearances, scoring in double figures 14 times and at least 20 points three times including a season-high 26 (with a career-high six 3-pointers) against Toronto on Dec. 6. For a player who had been known for slow starts but strong finishes in his first two seasons, this was particularly encouraging. But the trend reversed and Rush's productivity fell off thereafter. He averaged 7.4 points in his final 47 appearances, scoring in double figures just 12 times. He averaged 11.0 minutes, fifth among the team's wing players, and 3.2 points in the playoffs.
LOOKING AHEAD: Entering the final guaranteed season of his rookie contract, Rush has much to prove because he has shown little progress in three seasons. The only statistical category that reflects growth is free-throw percentage (.755 last season after making less than 70 percent the previous two). He has the ability to dazzle when so inclined but too frequently plays without purpose. Always a strong 3-point shooter, he hoped to improve his ability to finish around the rim last season and started well in that regard but lost ground as the season moved along. He has too much talent to settle for being a 3-point specialist but without significant improvement in the offseason, that appears to be his chosen path.
KEY STATS: Rush ranked 23rd in the NBA in 3-point percentage last season (.417) and moved past Roger Brown into ninth place on the franchise's career 3-point list, finishing the season with 291. His career 3-point percentage of .402 ranks fourth in franchise history, ahead of both Reggie Miller (.395) and Danny Granger (.385) -- not to mention older brother Kareem (.389). The three ahead of him are Chris Mullin (.441), Troy Murphy (.413) and Peja Stojakovic (.404).
CONTRACT STATUS: Signed through the 2011-12 season with a qualifying offer for 2012-13.
OUTLOOK: There is no shortage of ability but for whatever reasons, Rush has not translated that into productivity. Not that long ago, the Pacers felt about Rush much the same way as they feel about Paul George now, so his is a cautionary tale: it takes more than tools to build a career. While Rush is still young enough to show another level to his game, he has yet to show the motivation necessary to get there.