The curious case of Oshae Brissett’s trivial role with the Pacers

Oshae Brissett - Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Oshae Brissett - Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Pacers may have a losing record at the moment, but no one can deny that the team’s on-court product has been nothing short of exhilarating. Led by an exciting one-two punch in the backcourt with Tyrese Haliburton and Ben Mathurin, the franchise has definitely been revitalized after years of clinging onto the middle of the pack.

One Pacer, however, has consistently found himself beneath the pecking order, falling out of the rotation entirely despite embracing a key role in the past couple of seasons. And so far, head coach Rick Carlisle has not shown any indication of leaning toward him in the foreseeable future.

Oshae Brissett has been absent for the Indiana Pacers this season—by design

After averaging 23.7 minutes per game in the last two seasons, forward Oshae Brissett has rarely seen the hardwood this season, having played a total of approximately 27 minutes in four appearances so far.

Brissett has simply been an afterthought in the rotation, with the Pacers’ litany of wingmen and bigs effectively erasing any window for playing time for the fourth-year tweener. With the team doubling down on pace (fifth in the league) and scoring (seventh in offensive rating), the need for Brissett has been pretty minimal.

However, Indiana has been glaringly bad on the sole department where Brissett can make a noticeable impact: defense. Through eight games, the Pacers are ranked a measly 27th in defensive rating. This alone raises some eyebrows on why Brissett hasn’t sniffed the court much.

While he isn’t a world-beater in one-on-one situations, his defensive awareness as a team defender is uncanny, and perhaps more importantly, his size at the forward position is much-needed given the team’s outright lack of size in the wing positions.

Even in emergency situations when the Durants of the world need some roadblock, the team has resorted to banking on the 35-year-old James Johnson to play the transitory role, as seen in recent games.

If we are to guess, Brissett’s trivial role so far has a lot to do with the Pacers’ suddenly demanding play style on offense. As perhaps observable, the normal rotation is filled with players with more dynamic skill sets, able to whip the ball and playmake, and finish plays. Unfortunately, even at his best, tabbing on Brissett as anything more than a last resort in scoring is a concession at all avenues.

Oshae Brissett still has a valuable skill in a position of urgent need. And while the Indiana Pacers have not called his number as much as expected, there is still time for him to reestablish himself as a key rotation player. Otherwise, his time with the Blue and Gold may not be as long as expected, especially if the team eventually makes a trade or two and includes him as an additive.

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