Indiana Pacers: Grading Domantas Sabonis at the NBA hiatus

Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Domantas Sabonis has had a great year with the Indiana Pacers. On both ends of the floor, how does his season grade out at the NBA’s hiatus?

Domantas Sabonis has had a great year with the Indiana Pacers, plain and simple. It almost seems wrong to parse through his production this year with any semblance of looking for things to improve, because he far exceeded the expectations the Pacers had for him this year.

He ended up being the Pacers very best player in a season where they were without Victor Oladipo. Not bad for a player that was brought up in trade rumors just before the season began.

To kick off the year, Sabonis signed a contract extension with the Pacers and was offered a role in the starting lineup. The fit alongside Myles Turner seemed questionable, but Sabonis made the most of the expanded role he was offered and took off, landing the first All-Star selection of his career.

Let’s grade his season and see how he did.

Domantas Sabonis offense

On the offensive end, Domantas Sabonis has been stellar. He’s put up career highs in points and assists and posted the second-most assists per game on the Pacers with 5.0.

His 18.5 points paired with 3.0 offensive rebounds per game was enough to get him into the All-Star game. Thanks to the spacing Myles Turner provided for Sabonis, he was able to take over 50 percent of his shots within three feet of the rim and hit on those shots nearly 70 percent of the time.

With Turner off the floor, Sabonis often becomes the centerpoint of the offense, running plenty of dribble hand-offs on the perimeter with shooters like Doug McDermott, part of the reason his assists are so high this year.

Things flow through Sabonis. He’s an unobtrusive filter, ranking top 10 in touches per game in the NBA with a touch time below two seconds per touch.

7.9 percent of Sabonis’s shot attempts are beyond the 3-point arc, but they’ve not been an efficient shot for Domas. He makes them at a rate just beyond 25 percent, and it’s the only major area that Sabonis needs to work on on the offensive end.

Given that it’s not an important part of what the Pacers need him to do, it doesn’t hold his overall offensive grade back enough to consider bringing this down to an A-.



Domantas Sabonis defense

On defense, Sabonis has had a decent year. His size, awareness, and commitment help him to be a force on that end of the floor most of the time.

Against challenging assignments, Sabonis has a tendency to get frustrated and sometimes foul too much, forcing Nate McMillan to go to the bench, and sometimes giving Goga Bitadze minutes that he may not be prepared for.

Sabonis has played and carried fouls at times, too, showing that he does have the ability to defend without being careless. He needs to develop more patience and discernment on that end and be better.

Sabonis’s question marks on defense are one of the main reasons the Pacers have been reluctant to seriously consider trading Turner.



Domantas Sabonis overall grade

Sabonis was the best player for the Pacers this year. He led the team in win shares and provided a source of offense all throughout when Myles Turner was struggling and Victor Oladipo was out with injury.

While he could certainly improve his 3-point shot and stay out of foul trouble, these are minor issues compared to the positives he brings to the table for the Pacers.