Pendergraph Positively Waiting His Turn
Jeff Pendergraph can contribute. Frank Vogel swears it’s true, and Pendergraph’s whiffs of playing time support the argument.
It’s likely going to take an injury to David West, Tyler Hansbrough, Roy Hibbert or Ian Mahinmi for him to prove it, though, and nobody’s hoping for that.
Pendergraph made his longest appearance of the season in Saturday’s win at Detroit, eight minutes at the start of the second half because Hibbert had gone down with a thigh bruise. As always seems to happen when he plays, he produced: two points, three rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot.
That upped his season totals to 14 points on 60 percent shooting and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes over five games. Squeeze those numbers into one game, and it would leave an impression.
“I want to (play him more),” Vogel said. “He’s a good player and he showed it the other night. He gave us great minutes and did some positive things. When he gets an opportunity to plan extended minutes, everybody is going to see how good Jeff Pendergraph really is.”
Pendergraph is in his third NBA season of benchwarming, but isn’t complaining. Actually, he’s leading.
He’s probably the team’s most vocal cheerleader on the bench, and does the same behind the scenes. Back in the hallways leading to the Pacers locker room, he’s the guy offering a fist bump to passing teammates regardless of what just happened on the court.
“You don’t have to be on the court to be a leader,” he said. “You don’t have to play the most minutes you don’t have to make the most money. I feel like I’m here for a reason, to help create a certain culture. If you’re the last guy on the team and not getting minutes and you show the most positive attitude, that leaves no room for anyone else to complain about stuff.”
So Pendergraph waits – for an injury or a prolonged slump of the nature that D.J. Augustin experienced that opened playing time for Ben Hansbrough. He’s not hoping it happens. He wouldn’t complain about it, though.
“I’m here for a reason,” he said. “I can play. It’s just a matter of time before I can show it.
“Nobody comes up here just to be here. You want contribute any way you can. Right now that’s how he wants me to contribute, practicing really hard, getting guys ready for games, bringing positive energy, being a great teammate. When playing time comes it will come. That’s on coach, but I trust him.”