The Indiana Pacers need to start playing the young guys

Goga Bitadze - Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Goga Bitadze - Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

One glaring concern for the Indiana Pacers this season is the minutes that are being handed to the core of the rotation. Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, and now Caris LeVert are playing a ton of minutes for a team that is barely hanging on to playoff aspirations.

I fully understand playing your best players and putting yourself in the best possible position to win games but that simply has not been the case for the Pacers this season. Mix in a handful of young players that are losing developmental time on the floor and the Pacers have a lot of problems that may carry over to next season and beyond.

It’s time for the Indiana Pacers to play the youngsters

Domas has been excellent all season and has deserved to be on the floor whenever possible but a foot injury that ended his 2019-20 season lingers in his background. If he continues to play 36+ minutes on a nightly basis, there is reason to fear that injury resurfacing. Sabonis led the team once again with 37 minutes in Monday’s loss to Washington but added 35 points and 11 boards.

Caris LeVert, while still working his body back into a full workload, is averaging 32.1 minutes per game, far more than he has ever averaged in his career. That may be a contributing factor in his inconsistencies as a shooter after a very poor performance against the Wizards.

We have seen what Edmond Sumner has provided to this team now that he appears set in the rotation. He has played at least 10 minutes in 14 consecutive games for Indiana now and had brought quite the spark to both ends of the floor. His activity on defense leads to exciting finishes at the rim in transition.

The Pacers have also watched Alize Johnson dominate the G-League and show flashes in the NBA, now with the Brooklyn Nets. T.J. Leaf was a failed draft pick and Aaron Holiday is, unfortunately, trending in that direction as well. Although now I wonder if that has more to do with Holiday or the team failing to set him up for success.

That brings us to Goga Bitadze and, to a lesser extent, Cassius Stanley. Goga has been phenomenal for the Pacers since the All-Star break but is not getting the playing time to reflect his impact.

Since the break, Goga is averaging 4.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game but is also averaging just 10 minutes per game. With Turner not being a focal point of the offense and Sabonis playing far too many minutes, Goga has earned the right for more time on the court.

He has played very well when given the opportunity and could be a very good backup for Turner if the team would let him develop into that role. For Cassius Stanley, things are a bit more understandable with his lack of action but that should change nonetheless.

Stanley really struggled in the G-League bubble this season and dealt with a minor foot injury in the process but if he never sees the court for the Pacers, they will never know his value to the team. A crowded backcourt certainly makes it tough to get Cassius out there and a short G-League season limits any other playing time.

Still, Stanley should be part of the mix if things continue to go south for Indiana. Throw the young guys out to the wolves and see what you have on the roster heading into next season.

Myles Turner is still the DPOY. dark. Next