Flying Under the Radar: Travis Diener

Point guard Travis Diener was a fan favorite in Orlando during the two years he played for the Magic. Management liked his basketball I.Q. and leadership, but he rarely cracked the lineup and left this past offseason for a chance to play more. The Indiana Pacers have given Diener his chance and he isn't disappointing, averaging 7.1 points and 3.4 assists coming off the bench, both career highs.

Diener will likely never develop into an NBA starter, but the 26 year-old guard from Marquette is proving that he can be an adequate backup through his career. At 6'1", 175 lbs., Diener isn't the biggest player around and he lacks athleticism, but he is thriving in his role because of sheer determination and savvy play.

As of late, Diener has elevated his game and is taking advantage of the playing time he's been getting with the banged up Pacers. He has averaged nearly 11 points and six assists in his last five games. Diener has over a 3:1 assist to turnover ratio and plays the point like a seasoned pro. Diener has been putting the ball into the hands of the right players and distributing the ball effectively.

Aside from great decision making, Diener is also a proficient shooter and can take players of the dribble or can pull up and make the mid-range jumper. He is also a respectable three-point shooter, connecting on 32% of his three's this season.

On defense, Diener lacks the quickness to hang with a lot of starting guards, but he manages to hold his own by putting himself in the right position and never getting lackadaisical. He keeps his opponents in front of him and doesn't get burnt often, averaging just over a foul per game.

Diener will face his former team on Saturday night, and will likely see Carlos Arroyo for most of the game, Arroyo is quicker and bigger than Diener and he should be able to take him off the dribble, but Diener will also be able to do the same when he is on offense. Diener will be crucial for the Pacers if they want to upset Orlando, as he will have to dictate the pace of the game and must wear down the Magic by keeping the ball moving constantly. Diener has the ability to manage games effectively and now he is proving his worth on a nightly basis for the Pacers.