Tyler Hansbrough has been leading the Pacers lately, and is the key for them to make the playoffs. 
(Joe Robbins/NBAE Getty Images)
Tyler Hansbrough was entering the NBA with a very solid resume. He had a couple of NCAA Championship wins and was just a monster in college. He had considerations for the G.O.A.T. for how well he did.

But coming into the NBA Draft, Hansbrough was a projected late-first-rounder to be drafted by the Chicago Bulls or so.

However, the Indiana Pacers made a surprising jump, drafting the power forward as the 13th overall pick. Indiana was harshly criticized for the move.

I didn’t blame the folks who did so. In his rookie season, Hansbrough was quite the disappointment. He only averaged 8.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17.6 minutes per game. With injury problems, especially with an infected ear where he was forced to mess the rest of the season for, he only played 29 game that year.

Questions rose for Indiana of what they would do next year. The power forward spot was their weakest. Josh McRoberts would be their starter, and played solid. However, as Indiana entered December, things went downhill.

That was where Hansbrough stepped up. He started versus San Antonio on January 7th. He would have 23 points and twelve rebounds, but it wasn’t enough as the Spurs made a fourth-quarter rally for the 90-87 victory. Hansbrough would continue this solid stretch, having his best game that month with 27 points and ten rebounds in a 121-107 loss to the Denver Nuggets on the 23rd of January. Hansbrough would finish out with 12.4 points and six rebounds for the month.

February, he wasn’t that big of a factor. He would have a solid game, however, against the Detroit Pistons, having 21 points and twelve rebounds in a 102-101 victory. He’d average 11.4 points and 5.2 rebounds for the month of February.

Hansbrough has been a monster since entering March. (AP)
Coming into March was where we saw Hansbrough play like Indiana expected him to when they drafted him. Hansbrough would have double-digits in at least scoring or rebounding in all the games this month. Here’s how it followed:
  1. 14 points and six rebounds in a 109-100 victory over the Golden State Warriors.
  2. 13 points and seven rebounds in a 113-89 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
  3. 13 points and seven rebounds in a 116-108 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
  4. 17 points and ten rebounds in a 112-95 loss to the Houston Rockets.
  5. 26 points and six rebounds in a 110-100 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
  6. 21 points and ten rebounds in a 101-75 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
  7. 20 points and seven rebounds in a 108-98 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Those were some good statistics, but the end result for the teams games were ugly, except against Golden State. With a six-game losing-streak rolling, Indiana had some more trouble coming as they had back-to-back games versus the New York Knicks.

At Madison Square Garden, Hansbrough tore the house down, scoring 29 points and eight rebounds and leading the team to a 106-93 triumph to snap the losing-streak and gain back full-control of the eighth seed. Indiana would host New York again a couple of days later, and Hansbrough would come up big once again with 30 points and three rebounds for a 119-117 victory. However, the hero of that game was Danny Granger, who hit a huge jumper with a few milliseconds left. They would lose to Boston the next game, but Hansbrough got a double-double with ten points and eleven rebounds.

This shows that the Pacers don’t need a power forward for the future, because they already have one with Hansbrough. With the way he’s been playing, and if he continues to do so hopefully, he will be the future of the power forward position with Indy. Hansbrough is having the best month of his career, averaging 32.4 minutes with 19.3 points and 7.5 rebounds.

Indiana stands at 29-39 and a spot with the eighth seed. But Hansbrough has been influenced with his play a lot, thanks to Frank Vogel. Jim O’Brien would criticize him and never believed him, which led to him being shadowed by McRoberts and James Posey.

Hansbrough is loving the attention now that he is finally getting.

“It feels great, especially after so many people doubted me and I had a coach that didn’t believe in me,” he said.

Hansbrough has earned the right of being starting power forward for the Pacers, and he looks to keep it that way. The way he acts and plays influences the rest of the team with his pump-up attitude and unique style of scoring and playing.

Hansbrough’s shooting has been solid this month.

“I think I’ve improved my game a lot since Carolina, to tell you the truth,” Hansbrough said. “I’m a much better shooter than I was at North Carolina.”

Hansbrough really gives the credit to the time he has been given.

“Yeah, it would be increased minutes, but also you know, I’ve been out of the game for a while, I’m just trying to get back,” said Hansbrough.  “I’m just starting to get in shape a little bit.  I had been out for months with injuries, so it’s going to take a while.  I didn’t have really a training camp.  Just more experience and more playing time combined, it’s all going to help.”

This just makes it more exciting for Pacers fans, because it shows Hansbrough isn’t at his best. Hansbrough was frustrated with the lack of time he received earlier in the season.

“It was frustrating, but I felt I should be playing.  So I was working on my game all the time.  You know, coming to practice, trying to prove my point.  So it’s not like I was just sitting on the bench and resting.

“I mean, I was sharpening my tools.  I knew I wasn’t going to play, so I’d come into the gym an hour or an hour and a half before to work out.  So I got better, but the more game experience, the more I improved.”

It’s truly great to see how far Hansbrough has gone from a criticized bum to a oncoming star. He’s really coming up big for the Pacers.

If he keeps playing like this, he’s going to be an important part of this franchise for years to come.


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