Chris Duarte has been a lot of things this season.
Some might say he has been a disappointment when compared to his rookie season (and Rookie of the Year bid he had for a bit). But I’m not quite sure that’s fair to him in just his second year and with less than 100 games played (He’s currently at 99 so I can get away with this) he has still showed more than some at this point in their career.
The shooting has definitely been worrisome as he’s gone from 37% last year to 31% this year. Everyone remembers the numerous buzzer beaters last season but more importantly there was way more dependence on Chris to take and make shots before Buddy Hield got to town. Which is why its unfair to judge Chris this year compared to last. There is a guy in front of him that is currently leading the league in 3-pointers that took so many opportunities away overnight. You cannot expect similar production with less opportunities there’s just no way around it. Instead, Duarte this year has been assigned tougher defensive assignments (has played way more forward this year compared to last year where he was primarily a 2) and is being asked to make way more decisions as opposed to just catching and shooting. How you feel about his defense is up to you (you could make 100 arguments for the Pacer’s defense as a whole) but the trust in his decision making is real and Carlisle knows that putting the ball in his hands will rarely result in a bad play. Now in terms of what these new responsibilities mean, is that the coaching staff is developing him and want him to to be more than what he showed last season. The question is, where will that progression lead to?