The Indiana Pacers could potentially have a big man conundrum off the bench

Goga Bitadze - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Goga Bitadze - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Pacers do not have any All-Star caliber player in the frontcourt as currently constructed, but the team’s big man depth is far from subpar. In fact, aside from starters Myles Turner and Jalen Smith, the team still has three very capable bodies to man the position off the bench.

Between Isaiah Jackson, Goga BItadze, and Daniel Theis, the Pacers have three big men in the second unit with contrasting play styles. That plays well into head coach Rick Carlisle’s preference of having different utility bigs, but it could also give the team a conundrum with regard to rotations.

The Indiana Pacers could have a big man conundrum off the bench

Among those three, Jackson is the safest bet to log most of the available big man minutes off the bench. Heck, there could be nights where the coaching staff opts to streamline their frontcourt bodies to make room for more small-ball configurations and trots out the sophomore as the lone big in the second unit.

However, Bitadze and Theis cannot just be overlooked on a nightly basis, as both players present interesting skillsets that could prove beneficial to the Pacers depending on the opponent.

First, while consistency has been a recurring problem for Bitadze since entering the league, he profiles as a rare rangy big man who is a proficient shot blocker and capable passer. Three years into his career, he has yet to secure a nightly role for himself, but the Pacers may be more amenable to a bigger dose of minutes for him in a developmental year.

At his best, Goga is a skillful center who can make the right reads on offense and anticipate shots on defense effectively in spurts, serving as some sort of a late-career Pau Gasol with the Spurs or Marc Gasol with the Raptors.

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On the other hand, Theis is a defensive-minded big man who boasts a respectable outside shot. His mobility also allows him to play the four, a role which he often played in more conventional setups in Boston. He’s not the scrappiest shot blocker, but he relies on his smarts and good positioning to be effective as an interior defender. Better yet, he fares just fine in switch-heavy schemes.

However, while Theis is the more consistent option betwene him and Bitadze, Indiana isn’t really looking to dazzle in the wins department this season, and it will be more beneficial to the long-term if Bitadze gets a better crack at the rotation.

Everything could change if the Pacers make a trade, but as things currently stand, the team has a lot of options to fill the second unit big man role, though their stature and relative value makes the attendant concessions of their choice a tad more difficult to overlook.

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