Tyler Hansbrough has played the best basketball of his NBA career in recent weeks, thanks in large part to the confidence interim coach Frank Vogel has instilled in the second-year forward.
He is averaging 20.3 points and 7.1 rebounds on 51.9% shooting in 32 minutes per game in March. Hansbrough’s minutes have steadily increased under Vogel after he was often in-and-out of the rotation under Jim O’Brien.
Despite a first half of the season that was pretty much wasted, his advanced numbers look great for the year. He has an above-average PER (17.1) and 53.3 TS%, an improvement of roughly ten percent over his rookie percentage.
In the month of December, he averaged just nine minutes per appearance and produced minimally. He has rewarded Vogel handsomely for giving him consistent minutes, highlighted by back-to-back dominant performances against the Knicks this week.
Hansbrough has scored 20 or more points in five straight games, including efforts of 29 and 30 in the consecutive wins over New York. In those games, he shot 24-37 from the field (64.8%).
“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’s comments, however, weren’t all positive. He offered scathing comments about O’Brien while praising Vogel’s impact.
“He’s definitely given us a lot of confidence,” the forward told RealGM of Vogel. “He lets us know what’s going on and to be honest with you, he’s a much better communicator. We can say things that we think and we should work on, via versa.”
If you consider those subtle shots at O’Brien, then comes the money shot.
When asked how it feels to be making his mark as of late, he said:
“It feels great, especially after so many people doubted me and I had a coach that didn’t believe in me.”
The Pacers may not have a long-term solution on the bench in Vogel, but at the very least relieving O’Brien of his duties has allowed Hansbrough to produce when many had counted him out.