Indiana Pacers: Is it time to be worried about Chris Duarte?

Chris Duarte, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Chris Duarte, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Chris Duarte got off to a hot start last season for the Indiana Pacers, quickly bringing optimism to a franchise that hoped to continue its winning ways. Unfortunately, the season took a turn for the worse and the Pacers ended up having to break up the majority of the roster.

Luckily, this allowed Duarte to get even more playing time than he might of normally and had himself a pretty good rookie campaign. Yet, there continues to be hesitation around the fanbase of how excited we should be over the second-year player.

In his rookie season, Duarte was able to play at a relatively high level. He averaged 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists on 43% field goal shooting and 37% from deep. While these are mind-boggling numbers, they are respectable for a rookie coming into the NBA and there was optimism that the Pacers had found at least a rotation player if not a starter.

Unfortunately, Christ Duarte ended up missing a good amount of his rookie season to a toe injury that prevented him from finishing the year. He ended the season only playing in 55 games. This number was likely impacted by the fact that the Pacers were so bad and wouldn’t have rushed to get him back onto the court.

Coming into the 22-23 season, it appeared that Duarte may have some lingering toe issues during summer league and the preseason, but initially all seemed well. However, it was apparent that Duarte’s numbers were slightly slumped for his sophomore season.

This year Duarte is averaging 9 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist in the games he has played, which hasn’t been many. Duarte was reported to have a grade 2 ankle sprain that was going to sideline him for at least 4 weeks.

Year number 2 is again off to an injury-riddled start.

Pacers fans have an inherent apprehension for even the slightest amount of being injury prone in their players. In recent years we have been burned by repeated injuries in players such as TJ Warren and Malcolm Brogdon, preventing us from seeing the team at its best. The apprehension could even be traced a bit further back to the horrific injury Paul George suffered while with the US National team.

So what do we think? It’s probably too early to tell where Duarte’s story will lead. While it may be difficult, fans of the Pacers should not rush to judgment on how valuable Duarte will be to this rebuilding Pacers team. His ability to potentially play a 3-and-D role on the team could prove to be invaluable on a team that struggles to find and retain wing players.

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