Cory Joseph 2019 Season Review

Pacers guard Cory Joseph reflects on the close brotherhood among the 2018-19 team, discusses his plans to play for his national team this summer, and shares his affection for the fans in Indiana.

Cory Joseph 2019 Season Review

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Cory Joseph 2019 Season Review

Pacers guard Cory Joseph reflects on the close brotherhood among the 2018-19 team, discusses his plans to play for his national team this summer, and shares his affection for the fans in Indiana.
May 5, 2019  |  02:45

Cory Joseph 2018-19 Season Highlights

Check out some of the top plays from Pacers guard Cory Joseph's 2018-19 season.
May 5, 2019  |  01:00

Player Review 2019: Cory Joseph

by Mark Montieth Writer

Age: 27
Years Pro: 8
Status: Free agent
Key Stats: Played in all 82 games for the second consecutive season, starting nine. Averaged 6.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.9 assists while playing 25.2 minutes per game. His rebound and assist averages were career highs.

Cory Joseph wasn't acquired to score, which is a good thing. His shooting percentages dropped across the board this season and wound up the lowest since he was a rookie with San Antonio in 2011-12.

The rest of his game improved, though. That might not have been noticeable because of his late-season shooting slump, but the entirety of his performance was better than most people probably think.

Joseph, as been the case in most of his NBA seasons, shot better early in the season. He shot 40 percent from 3-point range over the first 29 games, and was still at 38 percent past the midway point. But he hit just 23 percent over the final 36 games and missed 11 in a row through one eight-game stretch.

PHOTO GALLERY: Cory Joseph's 2018-19 Season in Photos »

That followed his pattern of the previous season, his first with the Pacers, when he hit 46 percent of his 3-pointers over the first 26 games but just 29.5 percent the rest of the way.

The drop-off likely wasn't due to fatigue, because he was one of the few Pacers to step up his performance in the playoffs. He averaged 7.5 points on 50 percent shooting against Boston, hitting 4-of-9 3-pointers (44 percent). He also had four steals, four assists, and no turnovers.

Perhaps it related to the inconsistency of his role. Joseph is a chameleon, which generally benefits his teams. He doesn't mind starting, doesn't mind coming off the bench, doesn't mind being a point guard, doesn't mind playing off the ball, and certainly doesn't mind defending. That's an attitude forged by his parents, both of whom played and coached basketball in Canada.

So many changes can wreak havoc with a shooting touch, but that's why Joseph has earned unanimous respect from his teammates and coaches. His first NBA coach, Gregg Popovich, calls him a "consummate professional who wanted to use every bit of his ability." Popovich recalled Joseph, as a rookie, asking to be sent down to what was then called the D-League because he was getting any better sitting on San Antonio's bench.

"He's just the hardest worker on the planet and has formed himself into a solid NBA player who has an impact on the game," Popovich said.

Cory Joseph

Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

Joseph's offensive impact wasn't as great this season as a starter, when his role was to set up others. He hit just 27 percent of his field goal attempts and 19 percent of his 3-pointers in the nine games he filled in for Darren Collison. His role as a reserve was impacted by playing with Tyreke Evans, who needed the ball to be effective. It wasn't unlike the previous season, when Lance Stephenson was allowed to command the ball on most possessions with the second unit.

No matter his role, however, the non-shooting portions of Joseph's game were better than average. His assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.01-to-1 was fifth-best in the NBA and the best of his career. He nearly achieved his first career triple-double with 10 points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists in 31 minutes off the bench in a victory over Cleveland on Feb. 9. He had eight points and a season-high 12 assists in a win over Minnesota later that month and matched that assist total as a starter in the win at Detroit on April 3, when Collison was injured. He also nabbed a career-high five steals in the victory over Atlanta in November.

Bottom line: According to the advanced analytics, Joseph had one of the worst offensive seasons among the Pacers' rotation players but one of the best defensive performances — and the best among the guards, Victor Oladipo included. Some of his other contributions can't be measured.

"He's an intangible guy," Thaddeus Young once said. "He does a lot of things that help teams win games. He's not going to have stats that wow you. But you look at the stat line and see all the small things he's done in the course of the game and you say, 'OK, this guy made it happen for us.' And then if you watch tape and see how he harasses guys on the ball; he just makes the pace pick up when he comes in.

"He just has a lot to his game."

Joseph and his substantive game are in limbo this summer. A free agent, his future with the Pacers will hinge on how the pieces fall from the draft and free agency. Collison also is a free agent, Aaron Holiday appears headed for an enhanced role in his second season and there's always the possibility of acquiring a starting-caliber point guard from free agency or trade.

That could leave Joseph filling out change of address forms after signing with his fourth NBA team. But if so, there's bound to be a market for a level-headed 27-year-old who takes care of the ball, plays aggressive defense, has the occasional hot shooting game, accepts a backup role, injects both energy, and calm into a team and has seven seasons of playoff experience, including a championship run with San Antonio.

"He brings a lot of savvy and a lot of toughness," assistant coach Dan Burke said. "He just gets the job done."

And job openings will need to be filled.

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Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.


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