Indiana Pacers: Andrew Nembhard is the Best 31st Overall Pick this Century

Andrew Nembhard, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images)
Andrew Nembhard, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images) /

One glorious rookie performance was the key to the Pacer’s surprise upset of the Golden State Warriors. On the second night of a back-to-back, during a tough West-Coast road trip, Andrew Nembhard made his way into Pacers history. He scored 31 points, collected 13 assists, and grabbed 8 boards during Indiana’s 112-104 victory over the defending NBA Champions Monday night.

While Nembhard has been impressive at times early in his rookie season, most notably hitting a game-winning 3 over Lebron James, his performance last night showed he has an even higher level. His near triple-double ranks among the very best rookie performances ever.

Finding yourself on any list with Steph, Trae, and Jason Kidd is a pretty clear indication of incredible talent as an NBA guard.

Nembhard looked nothing at all like a rookie last night. He was poised in possession, secure on the ball, and dangerous in attack. That unique combination is so rare for a rookie, especially for a rookie guard, especially for a rookie guard taken with the first pick of the second round. Rick Carlisle continues to praise the guard, highlighting his draft position in that praise.

Nembhard has now played 19 games on the season, and in those 19, he’s averaging 9.1 points per game, 4.2 assists per game, and 2.8 rebounds per game. For players taken 31st overall since 2000, only Salim Stoudamire averaged more points per game in their rookie season than Nembhard is currently. That’s a list that includes Nic Claxton, Cedi Osman, Allen Crabbe, Nikola Pekovic, Carl Landry, and Pacer’s legend Bojan Bogdanovic. He also leads this list in assists per game.

Andrew Nembhard’s early season output has made him an invaluable rotation piece for an improving Pacers team, a maker of Pacer’s history, and a member of an exclusive group of NBA guards, all-time. His season and career are still young, and while his numbers through 19 games look better than any other rookie taken 31st overall this century, he is showing the potential to be one of the greatest players picked in the second round in NBA history.

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