Indiana Pacers point guard Cory Joseph has made a solid case to remain in the first unit even as Darren Collison returns to 100 percent from injury.
The Pacers currently have 11 wins and just 4 losses in the games that Joseph has started. Among five-man lineups that have appeared in over 35 minutes for Indiana, Joseph features in all four of the configurations with the best net rating. He is in eight of their 10 lineups that have had a positive net rating.
Indiana has outscored opponents by 13.2 points per 100 possessions when Joseph has been on the court at the same time as Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic.
It’s the third-best lineup in the Eastern Conference (minimum: 100 minutes) since Joseph took over for Collison on February 5.
Instead, Joseph can play off the ball and has averaged 1.13 points per possession as a spot-up shooter — which ranks in the 80th percentile. Tony East wrote about why this is an area where the 26-year-old has thrived (via 8 Points 9 Seconds):
“Joseph’s basketball IQ tends to shine through on these plays. He is excellent at finding the open space on the court where he can get open looks of this variety.”
Another reason why he has excelled is due to his success on short midrange shots. He is shooting 21-for-35 (60.0 percent) on these attempts. Among those with as many attempts, no player has been more accurate from within five-to-nine feet of the basket than Joseph. For comparison, Collison is shooting 3-for-18 (16.7 percent) from the same range.
Even as Collison returns to full health, it seems that Joseph has earned quite a bit of playing time as well.