Should Daniels Replace Jackson In Lineup?

by Conrad Brunner

Nov. 9, 2006

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Q. With (Stephen) Jackson and (Jamaal) Tinsley struggling, Tinsley should stay in the lineup despite inconsistency but Jackson has made it a little too obvious that he is never consistent. So do you think it's time to start (Marquis) Daniels? (From Jeremy in Indianapolis)

A. This depends on what you expect, and what you need, from those two positions. More often than not this season, Tinsley has fulfilled his role. He isn't supposed to be a scorer, rather a guy that picks up a few baskets when matchups and opportunities dictate. He's supposed to be a creator who runs the offense, knows when to push the tempo, finds open teammates and makes sound decisions with the ball. Tinsley has had a couple of off nights but generally has played adequately, at least offensively. So I would agree that he hasn't played his way out of the lineup.

Jackson, on the other hand, has yet to find the range on his shot. Though he has had some strong defensive games, notably against Philadelphia where Coach Rick Carlisle credited him with playing a major role in containing Allen Iverson, the Pacers need his position to pose an offensive threat. Thus far, Jackson is shooting .323 overall and .208 from the 3-point line. It would seem a major part of his problem has been a fixation on the 3-point shot; nearly 40 percent of his attempts have come from beyond the arc. Though he is a capable, albeit streak, 3-point shooter, Jackson is a much greater threat in the mid-range areas or when attacking the basket aggressively, rather than settling.

But is it time for a change at shooting guard? Though it has indeed been frustrating to watch Jackson struggle, and stubbornly try to shoot himself out of his 3-point slump, I'm not sure such a move would be productive for the team. For one, Daniels has been similarly inconsistent (. 382 overall) and poses no threat from the 3-point line; he brought a .244 career mark into this seas and is off to a 1-of-6 start. He may still be working on regaining his legs after a hamstring injury limited his preseason preparation time, and also could still be in the process of developing a comfort level in the new system and with new teammates.

In time, if Jackson continues to struggle and Daniels finds his groove, it might become necessary to discuss a lineup change. For the moment, however, Jackson should stay put, although he will need to alter his offensive approach and begin playing more to his strengths than his weaknesses.