Poythress and Sumner: Catching up on Indiana’s two-way players

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 5: Alex Poythress
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 5: Alex Poythress /

The Pacers utilized 2017’s maximum of two two-way contracts on rookie guard Edmond Sumner and second-year forward Alex Poythress. Let’s catch up on their progress.

Beginning this season, the NBA expanded the maximum roster size from 15 to 17, allowing two spots for players under “two-way contracts”. These contracts allow two players to move back and forth from their NBA team and their G-League (formerly known as the D-League) affiliate. However, they may not spend more than 45 days with their NBA team during the season. This offseason, the Pacers used their first ever two-way contracts on 2nd round pick Edmond Sumner and ex-76er Alex Poythress.

Alex Poythress

Poythress has proven to be a very solid player at the G-League level like he has in past years. The Kentucky product was named a D-League all-star last season and is currently averaging 20 points and nine rebounds in six games for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

It appears he’s gained more trust in his 3-point shot. While he’s only shooting about 22 percent from beyond the arc, he shoots closer to four 3-pointers a game this season as opposed to his average of 1.7 (3PA) last year.

Poythress has also improved on his passing since last season. After finishing the 2016-17 season averaging 1.5 assists per game, Poythress now averages around 2.7. While it still may not seem like a lot, it is on par with current Pacers forwards Thad Young and Domantas Sabonis, who are each averaging two APG.

Poythress hasn’t let us forget about his ability to throw down, either. He was scheduled to participate in the D-League’s 2017 Slam Dunk Contest, but a hand injury caused him to withdraw from the competition.

He’s back and is still capable of producing the highlight reel plays that put young players on notice by NBA teams.

I hope to see Poythress get a stint with the Pacers soon. I believe he has the ability to be a solid 9-10th man in the NBA. If he improves on his outside shot and becomes a more capable defender, he could have the opportunity to earn a consistent spot on an NBA roster.

Edmond Sumner

Now we head over to Pacers second-round pick Edmond Sumner.

Sumner’s start to his NBA career has been a little less productive than Poythress’s. The 6’6” guard is still rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered at the University of Xavier. In fact, he was just cleared for contact two weeks ago. What is really exciting  is that Sumner seems extremely motivated to get back out on the hardwood as soon as possible, posting this video to his Twitter a few days ago:

Despite being a player that the Pacers received from the New Orleans Pelicans for only “cash considerations”, Sumner showed plenty of promise in college. He averaged around 14 points per game, as well as four rebounds and four assists during his final year at Xavier. He proved himself as a solid passer with good vision, and he is extremely athletic. Let me clarify, EXTREMELY ATHLETIC.

In addition to his ability to absolutely obliterate rims, Sumner is a very crafty finisher around the hoop.


Although inside scoring may be Sumner’s main game, his jump shot should not be slept on. Sumner shot around 28% from beyond the arc at Xavier, and his field goal percentage was 47.9%.


Next: T.J. Leaf records 20 points and 9 rebounds in Fort Wayne Mad Ants debut

I am a big fan of Sumner’s game. I believe he has potential to be a solid option someday in Indiana’s backcourt. He’s equipped with a decent jumper, some serious bounce, and good vision when it comes to dishing out assists. He also seems to have the work ethic that will get a player far in the NBA. One thing is for sure, Sumner should not be labeled as “the other 2nd round pick”. He’s got some serious potential.