The Indiana Pacers have had to rely on the entire roster so far this season. As a result, Pacers fans have seen a slew of faces contribute to the team. A large portion of the contribution has come from players who had gone undrafted.
Among the last players signed by the Indiana Pacers, this most recent offseason, were JaKarr Sampson, T.J. McConnell, and Justin Holiday to NBA deals and Naz Mitrou-Long and Brian Bowen II to two-way contracts.
At the time, a handful of those acquisitions were expected to make the team and a few were expected to play the season in Fort Wayne as members of the Mad Ants or elsewhere other than Indiana.
However, injuries have forced the team’s hands.
Along with logging some extra face time on the floor the past few weeks, this group has another thing in common:
They were all undrafted.
Throughout the NBA, scouting undrafted players has become a point of emphasis in recent years.
Up until three decades ago, the players who went undrafted and appeared in even just one NBA game was just over the century mark total.
Now, NBA rosters are sprinkled with undrafted players and the inclusion of more roster spots and two-way contracts have provided more opportunity.
Mitrou-Long and Bowen II have added to this list of current undrafted players to debut this season with the Pacers.
While none of the stat lines pop off the chart for these players, they have all made key contributions.
Holiday has played in all 14 games so far. McConnell has missed just the last two due to injury but has played well so far this season. Sampson played in nine games when both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis were sidelined and exceeded expectations.
Mitrou-Long dropped nine points in the most recent game in Brooklyn.
The five undrafted players to play this season are numbers 32 through 36 for the franchise. In fact, that makes up 14% of the undrafted player total for the Pacers.
Also, of the 173 players who have now appeared in a game for the team, undrafted players now make up 21%.
The undrafted players to previously play for the Pacers are certainly a blast from the past and include: Lou Amundson, Etdrick Bohannon, Adrian Caldwell, Chris Copeland, Michael Curry, Marquis Daniels, John Edwards, Eddie Gill, Stephen Graham, Darvin Ham, Ben Hansbrough, Britton Johnsen, Rawle Marshall, Wesley Matthews, Trey McKinney-Jones, Keith McLeod, Brad Miller, Ben Moore, Kevin Ollie, Andre Owens, Josh Powell, Alex Poythress, Norm Richardson, Damjan Rudez, Courtney Sims, Donald Sloan, Erick Strickland, Mark Strickland, C.J. Watson, Shayne Whittington, and Damien Wilkins.
While more players have opportunities after going undrafted, they are still having a similar tenure, which the above list reflects.
Holiday and McConnell have carved out pretty strong careers so far. Sampson had to fight and play overseas to resurface. Only time will tell about the success of Mitrou-Long and Bowen.
Regardless, Indiana’s reliance on undrafted players should come as no shock based on the roster construction. The undrafted players will continue to have a positive impact for the Pacers moving forward.
For the Pacers scouting and coaching staffs, the undrafted players are keeping things above water.