Player Analysis: Tyler Hansbrough
May 17, 2011
LOOKING BACK: Uncertainty surrounded Hansbrough entering the 2010-11 season, primarily because he missed most of his rookie year and much of his offseason training due to the effects of post-concussion syndrome and vertigo. Though Troy Murphy had been traded away in the offseason and the power forward position was wide open, Hansbrough found playing time hard to come by under former coach Jim O'Brien, picking up nine DNP-CDs in the first 32 games. With Vogel's installation as interim coach, Hansbrough's game came to life. He had perhaps the best stretch of any player on the team in March, scoring at least 20 points in five straight games and averaging 21.0 points and 7.6 rebounds while shooting .579 from the field in a 10-game stretch. But as defenses began to adapt, taking away his pick-and-pop jumper, Hansbrough had to adjust and his numbers declined. The playoffs reflected his regular season. He shocked the Bulls with 22 in Game 1 but totaled just 34 in the final four games, though he wound up as the Pacers' second-leading scorer (11.2) in the series.
LOOKING AHEAD: Few, if any, players approach the game with the same intensity and drive as Hansbrough, who throws everything he has into every game. The only question is if he has enough room for improvement to warrant a full-time starting job or if he is better suited to a reserve role. It's probably too early to draw any conclusions either way in that regard, considering his relative inexperience and lack of ability to prepare fully for either of his two seasons in the NBA. He has a strong mid-range game and is effective, though sometimes awkward looking, in the post, with a jump hook that he releases from odd angles yet manages to find the basket. He could improve as a rebounder and defender.
KEY STATS: After playing a limited role in the first 32 games, Hansbrough averaged 26.1 minutes, 13.7 points and 6.1 rebounds in the final 48, including 29 starts.
CONTRACT STATUS: Signed through the 2011-12 season with a team option for 2012-13.
OUTLOOK: With the frontcourt rotation possibly heading for a major shakeup this summer (Jeff Foster, Josh McRoberts and Solomon Jones all are free agents), Hansbrough certainly did enough on 2010-11 to carve a prominent role in the team's plans for 2011-12 and beyond, but his eventual role remains to be seen. Though he blanches at the suggestion he was for all practical purposes a rookie this season, it really was the case given the amount of time he had missed previously. It will be very interesting to see the impact his first full summer of conditioning and training in three years will have on Hansbrough's game. He could be a much different, and better, player when he reports for training camp in October.