by Mark Montieth | email@example.com
June 14, 2013, 7:30 PM
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Age: 25 Years Pro: 1 Status: Free Agent Key Stats: Averaged 2 points on 33 percent field goal shooting while playing 7.1 minutes over 28 games.
One could argue Ben Hansbrough fulfilled the requirements of his role with the Pacers as well as anyone on the roster this past season. That role happened to be that of the end-of-bench guy expected to bring effort in practice and not complain about playing time.
Hanbrough played in just 28 games, scoring 57 points and hitting one-third of his shots, but he seemed a comfortable fit in the locker room and on the practice court. He did have a brief run as the backup point guard, when D.J. Augustin was dropped from the rotation, and he made a brief splash. In his first game as the No. 2 point guard, against Cleveland on Dec. 7, Hansbrough scored six points and had two steals and no turnovers over 17 minutes in a 96-81 victory. The actual performance was better than the numbers indicated, as he showed leadership, ran the offense and played physical defense.
He even brought out rare emotion from his older brother after he was inadvertently hit in the neck by an elbow from Cavs forward Tristan Thompson. Tyler jumped into the fray, ready to battle, and had to be calmed down – by Ben, actually.
That moment inspired a joking late-night tweet from Paul George: “DON'T mess with the Hansbroughs!”
The energy Ben brought to the second unit was palpable. At the time, it seemed he might have locked down the backup spot.
“He wasn't perfect, but he definitely provided a spark,” coach Frank Vogel said. “That unit had great defensive energy and he's a guy who'll hit a guy in the mouth. That's what he brings to the table.”
As it turned out, Hansbrough's run was a limited engagement. That game might, in fact, have been his highlight of the season, although he did score 11 points in the final regular season game against Philadelphia, when four starters were rested. He also had 10 points, seven assists and no turnovers in a preseason performance against Minnesota.
Hansbrough's future with the Pacers is doubtful, as Tyler's is questionable. The former Big East Player of the Year has a place in professional basketball, but it remains to be seen whether that's in the NBA. He is a natural point guard, has size and strength, and shoots reasonably well, but lacks the elite quickness and speed needed to survive in the NBA. His season with the Pacers, though, won't go down as a failure. There's something to be said for fulfilling a role on a team, even if that role is being one of the last guys to play.