Indiana Pacers: Will Edmond Sumner remain in the rotation?

Edmond Sumner, Indiana Pacers - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Edmond Sumner, Indiana Pacers - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Indiana Pacers guard Edmond Sumner had the best season of his career in 2020-21. With Nate Bjorkgren now fired and a new coaching staff on the way this offseason, will Sumner retain his minutes in his fifth season?

Sumner was impressive in his increased minutes last season which also saw him hit the starting lineup quite a bit. Nearly half of his appearances came as part of the starting five and he set career highs in almost every major statistical category.

Will a coaching change impact Edmond Sumner’s playing time with the Indiana Pacers?

Edmond Sumner played in as many games during one season with Bjorkgren as he did in three seasons prior to Bjorkgren’s arrival. He also made 24 starts for the Pacers last season and was a reliable option in the main rotation as the season progressed. His development as a shooter, slasher, and defender provide some promise for a bench unit that looks to be taking a hit this offseason.

Last season showed Pacers fans just how important a new coach is when deciding rotations. Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis played heavy minutes despite a history of injury concerns while Caris LeVert logged 32.9 minutes of his own after returning from a serious medical condition.

Those high minutes allowed other guys to step in and have a chance to prove themselves when they were on the floor because the leash was not necessarily short. Sumner tallied 16.2 minutes per game but ranked 11th on the Pacers for minutes played.

With a new coach coming in – and potentially bringing in an entirely different staff – the Pacers could see another shakeup in minute-allocation in 2021-22. For Edmond Sumner, that likely means he will have to earn his own playing time once again after continuously shining when on the floor.

Regardless of who the new coach is, we could see a massive roster overhaul heading into next season. The breakup of a two-big lineup seems imminent after it has failed to lead Indiana past the first round of the playoffs. Moving Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren, or Jeremy Lamb is also on the table as the Pacers look to a new future.

How will the Indiana Pacers rotation look next season?

Predicting who will and won’t return to the roster several months from now is too difficult but let’s assume the core stays intact with one of the bigs leaving via trade. Likewise, Doug McDermott and T.J. McConnell both leave in free agency as they chase bigger deals from other teams. That leaves the Pacers with three key players from last year’s rotation now out of the building but T.J. Warren and a rookie will slide in.

Brogdon, LeVert, Warren, and one of the bigs should still have significant roles. With no McConnell in the backcourt, the Pacers will have a need behind Brogdon at point guard which could come down to Aaron Holiday or a draft pick. If no significant moves are made, Sumner could very well be the primary backup to Caris LeVert as well.

To put it simply, unless the Pacers make a move to replace Sumner specifically, his role as the backup guard with athleticism should stay in place. If he hadn’t proved that he could step up as a shooter last season, then we are having a different conversation. However, that leap gives him a safe place as a rotational player with starting experience in case of emergency.

His blend of athleticism, shooting, and energy on defense is enough to earn minutes in the NBA. The Pacers will miss a cutter off the bench with McDermott potentially leaving so having Sumner as an option should entice the coaches.

The next few months will be telling but I think Sumner did enough last season to warrant playing time moving forward. Whoever takes over as head coach will certainly alter just how much he plays but he should be in a good spot with the current roster.

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