We all watch the great players in the NBA and then decide who is great and who is not – we look at Nikola Vucevic, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic in the paint, and automatically plunk the “elite” title on their shoulders, which by the way, is not one of my favorite terms, in actuality, I hate it.
But – I sadly, am going to use it here.
And yes, I am deeply disappointed in myself as well.
But, I think that what Domantas Sabonis does on the court is overlooked by some.
Andre Drummond is logged as one of the NBA’s best bigs – not taking anything from him, he’s a great player, but, he doesn’t make players around him better, like Sabonis has done in his 3 seasons with the Pacers, Sabonis is also a better scorer than Drummond and is more prized in clutch situations. If teams double up on him – he finds his teammates with a quick flick of the wrist – Sabonis also crashes the paint with more ferocity than Jokic does. Yet, those are guys everyone seems to talk up. The Indiana Pacers were sitting in the 5-6 spot in the East for the majority of the season, which is directly to where Sabonis has led his gritty team. He is a legit scorer and a massive threat.
I love Sabonis and his game – it’s been a while since a team had a true big playing center, a guy who has post play and bangs down low and loves to win.
The 6-11, 240lb center uses as much power in his game, as he can back down, and spin off vs teams into his 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists /game.
In an era where there seems to be no true power forwards or centers in the league anymore, Sabonis brings some of that classic game to the court, as there is also little to no true paint play anymore, it seems to me, Sabonis has changed the team’s perspective, and has been spectacular on a team that was in need of a true 5 this season.
Sabonis definitely does his best work down low on the offensive end – but he can also knock down the 3ball occasionally, with his sleek lefty stroke, as he does not live out there, he has the ability to put one up, just enough to keep teams honest on defense. His best ability is to bang down low, defend the paint, and protect the rim have been beyond valuable to the Pacers. Likewise, his strong athleticism helps him keep in front of smaller players, when they get switched onto him, as Sabonis possesses great vision to find his open cutters when he gets doubled.
Sabonis a really good facilitator and distributor for Indiana, sitting 2nd on the team in assists /game, only behind starting PG, Malcolm Brogdon.
Sabonis is the Lithuanian engine in their offense – he is a very tough matchup problem because he can step away from the basket and knock down the 10-15 footer – as well as he can put the ball on the floor, and spin to the cup. And much like his father Arvydas, who played 7 seasons for Portland – he is always looking to make plays for his teammates, as his 5apg confirms. He is all over the place, he gets everyone involved, he sets screens, grabs rebounds, scores the rock, and has masterful passing. I have to say, absolutely, Domantas Sabonis is an elite big.
The Indiana Pacers don’t win without him.