How big of a role will Torrey Craig have with the Indiana Pacers?

Torrey Craig - Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Torrey Craig - Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Pacers signed Torrey Craig as free agency slowed down and that deal is now official heading into training camp. Craig, who spent last season with the Phoenix Suns, brings some much-needed help on the defensive end.

Will Torrey Craig actually play a large role for the Pacers this season after signing for two years? There is a lot of talent on Indiana’s roster and the depth beyond the starting five will make playing time a tough get for several capable bodies.

Will the Indiana Pacers have a role in place for Torrey Craig?

Craig spent the early years of his career in the NBL in Australia and New Zealand before eventually earning his chance in the NBA. While overseas, Craig made a name for himself as an elite defender – earning the NBL Best Defensive Player Award in 2017. He has carried that defensive toughness to the NBA in his four seasons.

Teams with Torrey Craig on the roster have been pretty successful since he arrived in the NBA. His three years with the Nuggets helped Craig earn a deal in Milwaukee last season before he was traded to the Suns. He spent last season with both of the teams who appeared in the NBA Finals, so the Pacers have to be next, right?

With T.J. Warren starting as the only true wing option for Indiana, there will be several players fighting for some run when he gets a breather. That leaves roughly two bench spots open for players who can play the wing. The spot behind Warren is the clear area to focus on but having a small-ball four who can defend the perimeter is also very valuable.

Rather than playing two more bigs off the bench, the Pacers will likely look to utilize their wing depth in that capacity. Oshae Brissett, Chris Duarte, Edmond Sumner, Justin Holiday, and Torrey Craig will all be fighting for that role.

The thing that really limits Craig’s playing time is his lack of scoring ability on a bench unit that needs more playmakers. He is averaging just 5.3 points in his career while shooting 33.1 percent from beyond the arc. Each of the other guys has shown a lot more talent on that end of the floor while not being disastrous on defense.

If Torrey Craig wants to earn minutes, he will have to show off an improved jumper in training camp and throughout the preseason. Unless someone goes down with an injury, his path to playing time is quite challenging.

With as many talented bodies as the Pacers have to offer, Craig will probably only play in certain matchups when his defensive skill set can be put to use. He will likely not be part of the usual rotation.

There is no denying that Craig can be an important signing for the Pacers this summer but his value is not what it would have been a year ago. Hopefully, the roster will shake out and encourage everyone to push each other.

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