Indiana Pacers: Tyler Hansbrough Ready for Next Step

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Indiana Pacers: Tyler Hansbrough Ready for Next Step
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Coming out of college, Tyler Hansbrough was not predicted to be an NBA success because he wasn't considered "athletic" enough, but the third-year power forward has steadily improved and is looking to make the next step in 2011-2012.

Hansbrough, a 25-year-old who was a legendary NCAA basketball player at North Carolina, broke into the starting lineup last season and had a decent showing against the Chicago Bulls in the postseason.

Last year was a big step for Hansbrough, who had a very rough rookie campaign. The No. 13 draft pick competed in only 29 games in 2009-2010 because he suffered from various inner ear problems that was worsened by a concussion. These injuries were partly why he averaged 8.5 points and 4.8 rebounds on 36 percent shooting as a rookie.

No. 50 averaged 11 points, 5.2 rebounds while shooting 47 percent in just 21.9 minutes in 2010-2011. He started 29 games in the regular season and all five against the Bulls.

Hansbrough played extremely well against power forward Carlos Boozer, preventing the Bulls' second scoring option from scoring inside and forcing Boozer into bad shots. Boozer was held to 10 points per game and 35 percent shooting. In the previous four Western Conference postseasons facing stiffer competition, Boozer averaged 20 points on .508 shooting.

The steady improvement of Hansbrough has been noticed by head coach Frank Vogel, who has the young baller as the projected starting No. 4 for his club.

Scouts and experts overlooked Hansbrough during the 2009 draft, even though he broke numerous Atlantic Coast Conference records, was a two time First-Team All-America and 2008 National Player of the Year. The reasons why were because he was "too slow" and "not big enough" to be an effective NBA forward. 

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However, Hansbrough's regular and postseason performances, including a career-high 30 points against the New York Knicks, show that he can be a valuable asset at the professional level.

He is a physical player who plays with intensity coupled with fundamentals and a team-first attitude.

Whenever next season begins, Hansbrough will continue working with Danny Granger and his teammates to make the Indiana Pacers a feared team in the Eastern Conference.

Bob Bajek is a freelance reporter and can be followed at Patch.com and Twitter.

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