Who’s playing small forward for the Pacers now?

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 18: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop.) Glenn Robinson III
NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 18: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop.) Glenn Robinson III /

With Glenn Robinson III out for at least two months with a severe ankle sprain, the Pacers have a serious hole at small forward and few candidates to fill it.

The Pacers hype train took a serious hit on Friday when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Pacers forward Glenn Robinson III would miss the start of the year due to an ankle injury:

Robinson, a fan favorite and a breakout candidate, was projected to be a key part of the rotation from the jump, even if fellow wing Bojan Bogdanovic had the nominal starting role. Missing two months would bring the dunk contest champion back into the fold at the beginning of December, meaning Robinson would miss about 20-25 games.

Hopefully, he’ll be back and fully able to take on that expanded role for the latter three-fourths of the season, but until then, the Pacers have to find a way to fill his shoes for 60 days. While this wouldn’t normally be a big task, Robinson was one of only two NBA-caliber small forwards on the roster.

Bogdanovic likely won’t play more than 30 minutes a game, and the other candidates to play the three inspire little confidence. Let’s look at each in turn.

Lance Stephenson:

The intuitive solution here is to just really lean into three-guard lineups with Born Ready at the three since he’ll have little trouble guarding most opposing threes of the non-LeBron James variety. The downside is that it will likely mean having two of Victor Oladipo, Stephenson and Cory Joseph on the floor during those times, which won’t be stellar for spacing purposes.

That said, putting talent on the floor is usually better than prioritizing fit over everything, so I’d peg this as the most likely solution.

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Alex Poythress:

Poythress has played in six NBA games in his career, which still gives him more experience than the next person on this list. Undrafted out of Kentucky, the 6-foot-7 forward was an end-of-the-bench guy for the Philadelphia 76ers last season.

He’s on a two-way contract with the Pacers, which means that he can only spend 45 days maximum with the big kids before being banished to Ft. Wayne. Still, the Pacers clearly saw something in him, and now is the perfect opportunity for him to show it off.

Ben Moore:

Moore, an undrafted rookie out of SMU, is a long shot for this role because he’s currently signed as an affiliate player and might not even be on the roster in two weeks. Indiana signed him after five fairly impressive games in the Orlando Summer League.

At 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, Moore has defensive potential and solid rebounding skills, but he lacks the skill to be anything more than a high-motor guy at the moment. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for him to get much of a shot in the regular season.

Damien Wilkins:

The grizzled veteran of the bunch, Wilkins could potentially sop up a few minutes here and there until Robinson is ready to get back out there. He’s 37 years old, on a very partially guaranteed contract and, like Moore, not a lock to be on the final roster once the regular season arrives.

Still, his veteran status makes him a “safe” choice to step up to the plate, whatever that means. I wouldn’t be shocked if he got some run at the start of the season.

Mr. Outside Hire:

The Pacers could try and find another small forward through scraping the bottom of the bottom of the free agent barrel or a trade. However, I’m skeptical that any free agent would help much more than the talent already on the roster, and I don’t see the point of giving up an asset in a trade to help with two months of a season that doesn’t really mean much.

Next: 3 breakout candidates for the Pacers

Get better soon, Glenn. We’re rooting for you.