D.J. Augustin almost always played significant minutes during his tenure with the Charlotte Bobcats and was the presumed point guard of the future until the 11-12 season. After four seasons, however, the Bobcats failed to issue him a qualifying offer this past summer. The Pacers signed him as an unrestricted free agent to backup George Hill.
“It’s been hard, you know. I’ve been a starting point guard my entire career,” Augustin said of his transition with Indiana. “Coming off the bench and playing limited minutes is hard, but I’m trying to learn and make the best of it.”
The truth is that Augustin hasn’t been a starter for his entire career. He started only 10 percent of games played in his first two NBA seasons, but he is playing a career-low 15.3 minutes per game in 12-13.
Oddly enough, he started three games for the Pacers last week with Hill out nursing a right groin injury. Augustin led Indiana to a huge win over Memphis with a strong performance, but struggled against Boston on Friday night.
Augustin is averaging 13.7 points on 45.5 percent shooting and 5.3 assists as a starter, but just 3.3 points and 2.3 assists on 28.4 percent shooting in 26 games as a reserve. His PER is a career-low 11.0, as is his 16.9 percent usage rate.
“It’s easier when you start because everything clicks from the beginning, but you’ve got to be ready for whatever in this league,” Augustin explained.
With that said, he knew when he signed with the Pacers that he’d be taking over the role of Darren Collison, who was traded to the Mavericks this past season. Hill was re-signed to a five-year, $40 million deal to return as the starting point guard.
“I knew I would be coming off the bench with the same starting five coming back, but I wanted to come in and play hard,” said Augustin, who actually lost the backup job to Ben Hansbrough at one point earlier in the season.
Augustin may not be No. 1 on the depth chart when the Pacers are at full strength, but that doesn’t mean his role isn’t important. Hill is tall enough to play off the ball for stretches and the Pacers were most dangerous last season when Hill and Collison combined to provide a strong one-two punch of energy at point guard.
“I just try to stay ready regardless, starting or not,” Augustin said.