Ben Hansbrough Replaces Augustin as Backup PG
Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel has seen enough.
After watching his bench fall on its face on a regular basis by losing any momentum the starting unit put together, Vogel decided it was time for a change.
And it's at backup point guard.
Vogel demoted D.J. Augustin to third string and replaced him with Ben Hansbrough as the second unit's point guard Monday.
"I think D.J. has been in a slump this year," Vogel said. "Our bench as an unit has been struggling. D.J. is not in any way solely responsible, but I don't want to change the whole bench and throw everybody upside down. We'll change one part and see if it has any impact."
Vogel referred to the move as "short term" but that could change if Hansbrough thrives in his new role.
The bench has actually been worse than last year's unit, which struggled in the playoffs.
The bench was outscored 55-12 by Denver's bench last week and has been outscored in 15-of-21 games this season.
Augustin's benching could be the first domino to fall with the second unit. Vogel has been impressed with the development of rookies Miles Plumlee and Orlando Johnson. Jeff Pendergraph is also available to play power forward if Tyler Hansbrough can't get out of his shooting slump.
It became apparent that something was in the works after Vogel, associate head coach Brian Shaw and starting point guard George Hill spent time giving Hansbrough tips after practice Monday.
"I just told him to relax, take a deep breath, enjoy the moment, but also it's a blessing and opportunity," Hill said. "It doesn't allow him to start to slack because coach promoted him to that position.
"It demands him to work 10 times harder now cause the competitor D.J. is, he's going to come back for that spot."
Hansbrough, who was Big East Player of the Year in 2011 while at Notre Dame, was a long shot to make the team when training camp started.
He outworked Blake Ahearn and Sundiata Gaines to make the making day roster, and now he's getting his shot to be Hill's backup.
"That was one of my goals, to work my way into the rotation," said Hansbrough, who played overseas last season. "I bring high energy, tough play; just a little bit of everything out there."
The Pacers thought they figured out their bench woes when they signed Augustin -- who started most of his career while with the Charlotte Bobcats -- to a one-year deal during the offseason because of his true point guard instincts.
But Augustin has not looked anything like the player who averaged at least 6.1 assists in each of the past two seasons and double figures in points in three of his four seasons in Charlotte.
He's only averaging 3.2 points and shooting 26.6 percent from the field, including 21.3 percent on 3-pointers, this season.
Augustin has had a difficult time adjusting from getting significant minutes in previous seasons to only averaging 13 minutes a game this season.
"I'm not going to blame it on the minutes, I'm not going to blame it on anybody," Augustin said. "I just have to deal with it and try to get better."
The inevitable finally happened Monday afternoon, and the Pacers didnít try to make it a secret, either.
First coach Frank Vogel walked over to Ben Hansbrough and spent time talking to him on the court. Then associate coach Brian Shaw talked to him. And finally starting point guard George Hill pointed out some things to his new backup.
Something had to be done to try to jump start a second unit that has stunk this season.
Vogel talked about the second unitís inability to defend. The point guard usually sets the tone defensively. D.J. Augustin has never been a good defender.
Hill talked about what Hansbrough could bring defensively to them.
ďHeís a maniac,Ē he said. ďI never thought Iíd see another Tyler Hansbrough, but you see a guard version of Tyler. The passion that Tyler plays with, thatís doubled because (Benís) a smaller size. Heís a point guard.Ē
Augustin would probably still be Hillís backup if he contributed something offensively.
That didnít happen.
Heís only averaging 3.2 points and shooting 26.6 percent from the field, including 21.3 percent on 3-pointers, this season.
Lance Stephenson was the third point guard during training camp, but Vogel said he doesnít want to move him there now because he likes how heís playing at shooting guard.
Donít be surprised if this isnít the last shakeup if the bench continues to struggle. Jeff Pendergraph, Miles Plumlee and Orlando Johnson are all waiting to get a shot in the rotation.
Only time will tell if the point guard switch will get the second unit going for the Pacers. You have to hope so considering their next three games are all winnable Ė Cleveland, Philadelphia and at Detroit. Itís time for the Pacers to string together some wins so that they can quit going from being a .500 team.
Do you agree with Vogelís decision?