Indiana Pacers: Will Chris Duarte breakout in the 2022-23 season?

The Indiana Pacers found out quickly that they made the right pick in the NBA draft last season. Selecting Chris Duarte at 13th overall had fans curious about what he could bring to the Pacers, but that curiosity didn’t last.

With another big draft upcoming for the Indiana Pacers, Chris Duarte’s second year in the league is one of the bigger factors in the team’s success.

Sometimes I think about Chris Duarte scoring 27 points on 6/9 three-point shooting in his rookie debut, as well as setting the rookie record for threes made in a debut. For a rookie to step in and be that impactful, I was thrilled to see more of what the newest Pacer could bring to the table.

His rookie season didn’t underwhelm until it did. After the trade deadline and the Pacers had waved the white flag on the season, Duarte barely played due to injury. What could have been the most chemistry building for Tyrese Haliburton and Duarte just didn’t happen.

To me, Duarte’s second year with the Pacers is going to be a big factor in the team winning games. However, it also depends on what this team does come draft night and in free agency. There are a few ways Duarte can be used in this upcoming season but as I see it right now, it will be as the starting shooting guard.

If there is a trade made with guards like Malcolm Brogdon or Buddy Hield I wouldn’t be surprised, so that is why I am bullish on Duarte starting. One of the other ways I see the team utilizing Duarte is in the sixth man role, but that is only if they find a way to land a Jaden Ivey caliber guard in the draft. I would suggest a big free agent, but I think they should opt to keep Hield if it comes to that.

Duarte came off the bench in 16 of the 55 games he played this season and averaged 11.1 points in those games. One of his best bench performances came against the LA Clippers, scoring 24 points and 7 rebounds in 34 minutes of play in early January.

As the Pacers showcase their lack of ball handling in transition, Chris Duarte has a great feel for his shot and just has poise. A pump fake into a step-back three for his 24th point off the bench.

Now, the Indiana Pacers have two players as it stands Haliburton and Brogdon who can handle the ball, and Haliburton being the best creator on the team fits great with Duarte’s skillset. Duarte is great off the catch, is solid at attacking the paint, is great in transition, and can hit tough shots. He himself is not a pass-first player, but he doesn’t need to be in next year’s offense.

Seeing him and Haliburton in transition is probably what I am most excited to see next season. I think their skills gel perfectly and the floor spacing they both provide is what makes it even better.

Ball movement? Transition lobs? Sign me up!

Indiana has gone through a number of health concerns within their rosters in recent seasons, including Chris Duarte in his rookie campaign. Duarte seems to be doing better now after dealing with pain in his toe and it shouldn’t complicate his sophomore year.

We didn’t get to see much of Duarte and Haliburton together after the trade deadline which means their chemistry building will need to come from the dym this offseason. Many of the Pacers’ young players including T.J. McConnell have been in Indiana working out together and I think they have made great progress.

Chris Duarte is one of my favorite young Pacers for this upcoming season and I think he is set for takeoff in year two with Indiana.