Rick Carlisle hypes up the rookies during Indiana Pacers media day

Indiana Pacers, Isaiah Jackson - Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers, Isaiah Jackson - Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Media day is finally here for the Indiana Pacers and head coach Rick Carlisle is setting high expectations. Indiana needs to bounce back after a lackluster performance in 2020-21 which is why they brought in Carlisle to lead the charge. The experienced Carlisle is already making massive claims about his young guys.

Pacers fans should be very excited about the direction Carlisle is taking this team. Recent coaching staffs have not favored young guys and their lack of playing time has hindered their development to some degree. That does not appear to be the case for Carlisle this season.

Rick Carlisle expects a lot from the Indiana Pacers’ rookies

In his first real media session since his opening press conference, Carlisle stated that both first-round selections in the 2021 NBA Draft would have immediate impacts on this team. Chris Duarte, a two-way wing that is NBA-ready, will be a crucial component off the bench. His role out of the gate was expected to be sizeable, especially with the injury to Edmond Sumner.

Isaiah Jackson was selected with the pick the Pacers received from the Aaron Holiday trade and was originally seen as more of a project piece. Given that Indiana has two starting bigs that will see the floor quite a bit and an exciting backup in Goga Bitadze, Jackson’s path to playing time wasn’t nearly as apparent.

However, Carlisle is already offering a ton of praise for his rookie forward as training camp looms. He believes Jackson will be a huge part of the initial rotation, stating that his defense is going to keep him on the floor as a rookie.

Indiana has some talented defensive bigs. Myles Turner as we all know is one of the league’s best when it comes to defending the paint and deterring shots at the rim. Goga Bitadze has shown some flashes in that role when filling in for Turner and looked like an absolute stud at times last season.

Adding Isaiah Jackson could allow the Pacers to play a bit smaller if he is the backup center but it could also allow him to share the floor with Sabonis or Turner as the forward. Jackson is an uber-athletic forward and versatile defender, an area the Pacers need a ton of help with. He should be a contributor right away for Rick Carlisle.

We don’t often get to see rookies shine for the Pacers for whatever reason. Depth is typically a good thing but in this case, it has harmed the growth of some young guys over the years and they have found success once they leave Indiana.

Carlisle giving the young guys a chance will be massive for the future of this franchise. It is time to get excited about the Indiana Pacers. This will also be the first season for the Pacers in Gainbridge Fieldhouse, the new name for their home arena. The entire future is changing.

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