Indiana Pacers: The Andrew Nembhard conundrum continues

Andrew Nembhard, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Julio Aguilar/2023 Julio Aguilar)
Andrew Nembhard, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Julio Aguilar/2023 Julio Aguilar) /

The Indiana Pacers are clearly one of the biggest winners out of the most recent NBA Draft after drafting Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard, two rookies who have had massive impacts on their team in their first foray into the big league.

However, while the former has enjoyed having a very clear and defining role — despite the short leash — the latter has juggled different roles in Year One. Nevertheless, with Tyrese Haliburton out due to injury in the last few games, Nembhard has once again proven why the Pacers should give him a bigger role, particularly offensively.

The Indiana Pacers have to bestow Andrew Nembhard a bigger role to maximize his potential, but…

Nembhard has shown time and time again that he can viably function as a lead guard. In 13 games without Haliburton, he’s logged 11.8 points and 6.4 assists per outing. Those numbers are far from appealing in comparison with his first-in-command, but they are pretty telling preludes to how he can fare if given a bigger role with the rock.

Unfortunately, this is where the conundrum starts for Indiana. The rookie is clearly more productive on the offensive end in a non-ancillary role, but the team seems cemented on having TJ McConnell as the main playmaker off the bench — a role befitting Nembhard’s game.

Alas, the Pacers can always go the youthful route and give him the keys to the second-unit offense, but at the same time, Nembhard is too valuable on the starting unit on defense to change the status quo as currently constructed. The front office has to invest in defensive reinforcements to give the team more leeway to reconfigure and re-clarify roles.

For a player with his potential, Nembhard is too good to just be a bystander on offense waiting for catch-and-shoot reps on the corners. Even trotting him out as a secondary release valve full-time is not capitalizing on what he can bring to the table.

Ultimately, for the Indiana Pacers to be able to maximize Andrew Nembhard and fully tap into his potential, they will have to be the ones to do the adjusting, and not the other way around. With the team set on the backcourt for the near future, it’s crucial that they view the combo guard as someone who can be in the limelight, and not just in the background.

dark. Next. Why the Pacers are more than capable of handling Bennedict Mathurin’s absence