Indiana Pacers Summer League: What to Watch For

Mar 12, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Solomon Hill (3) posts up against Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antekounmpo (34) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 12, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Solomon Hill (3) posts up against Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antekounmpo (34) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Let’s take a break from the free agent frenzy for a few minutes and talk about some actual basketball that will actually be played in couple of days.

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Sure, it’s the NBA’s version of pick-up games at the YMCA, but it’s basketball nonetheless. As I watch the games, I’ll be focusing on the players who have an actual chance to make the roster.

Here’s what I’ll be looking for from each of them:

Myles Turner

I’m not worried about stats for him at all. He’s a 19-year-old developmental project who’s undertaken an ambitious physical regimen since the last time anyone saw him play and is trying to learn to run correctly, so I’m looking for any clues I can find as to his mental makeup and his physical progress. First, I want to watch him run to see that he’s making strides to correct the disturbingly geriatric gait he displayed at Texas. Second, I want to see him be physical on the interior. He disappeared in college against better competition. The general explanation has been that he was physically underdeveloped and getting pushed around by older, stronger players. I can accept that, but I want to make sure he’s not going to shy away from contact, because if he does, he’ll never be much of a rim protector or rebounder in the NBA.

Solomon Hill

Hill’s future in the NBA is entirely based on his ability to develop into a reliable 3 and D wing. To do that he’s going to have to shoot better than 32% from the 3-point line. I want to see him shooting the deep ball, and I want the shots to go in.

Shayne Whittington

Whittington is a guy who could potentially earn a role as a backup stretch four in the Pacers’ new look offence this season. Bird and Vogel both seem pretty high on him, so I want to know why. If he’s ready for NBA minutes, he needs to clearly be one of the better players on the floor during Summer League. Furthermore, if we’re viewing him as a stretch four, I’d like to see how comfortable he is out on the perimeter both offensively and defensively. Another thing to watch is how he and Myles Turner work together. It’s a mildly unnerving thought, but it’s entirely possible that the two of them could play heavy minutes together off the bench during the season.

Joe Young

I’m excited to watch this guy play as he seems to have a game that will shine during Summer League. There are 2 things I’m looking for as I watch Joey Buckets, both are related to his tweener-type size and game. The essential question with him is whether he is a 1 or a 2. The first clue to answering this question will be how the coaching staff chooses to use him. This will show us how the Pacers view him as they try to develop him moving forward. Does he run the show as a point guard or play mainly off the ball? Second, to stick in the NBA, he’s either going to have to be able to run the point or develop into a microwave-type scorer a la Jason Terry or Monta Ellis. These games will show us if he has the potential to develop into a long term NBA player.

Mantas Kalnietis 

This name will not be familiar to most people, but this 28-year-old 6’5″ Lithuanian point guard has a real chance to make the roster. He’s played, and succeeded, at the highest levels internationally and has drawn interest from multiple NBA teams. Since the Pacers do not currently have a backup PG under contract, there is certainly space for him. The first thing I want to see from Kalnietis, and I’m not actually sure I’ll get to see this, is how he handles the ball against pressure defense. It could be that I’m still smarting from watching Sarunas J. play, but that’s the first question I ask about all international point guards. Second, he sounds like a fairly athletic guy who’s game is more predicated on getting to the rim and setting up his teammates. I’ve read that his outside shot is a bit of a question mark, so I’d like to see what he can bring to the table for the Pacers. He’s a guy that’s going to have to look fairly good against this level of competition to get an actual offer.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s it.

Everybody else is pretty much D-League (at best) roster fodder.

Next: Pacers Re-sign Lavoy Allen To A Multi-Year Deal

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