This season has been marked by youth development for the Indiana Pacers. This season didn’t turn out how many of us hoped, but there was still a lot of value in getting younger players time on the court.
One question that remains to be seen, is whether or not the key veteran players on the team will have a place come the season opening of next year. Players such as: James Johnson, TJ McConnell, and Buddy Hield. Will they be of value as a part of the roster? One curious case in particular is TJ McConnell.
TJ McConnell has been with the Pacers for four years. In those four years, TJ McConnell has only grown in his worth to the team. This season alone, McConnell has highlighted what great court vision he has. McConnell has put up six games with 10+ assists. McConnell also has his signature backcourt steals, igniting the team and killing the momentum of our opponents. McConnell is also showing his worth in veteran leadership to Tyrese Haliburton and Andrew Nembhard. So there is a case he should be on the team long-term.
Unfortunately, the emergence of Andrew Nembhard brings into question how many minutes TJ McConnell will have. Nembhard is a better shooter, defender, and has a higher overall ceiling than TJ McConnell. So how should the Pacers proceed?
The Pacers should do what they can to keep McConnell but not overpay for a third string point guard.
Many Pacers fans love TJ McConnell. Not only does he provide veteran leadership, he is a fan-favorite. However, we must keep him at a veteran mentor price point, similar to the role James Johnson plays for the current Pacers team or the role Udonis Haslam plays for the Miami Heat.
Moral of the story: TJ provides something valuable to the Pacers moving forward, but it is decreasing his play time.