On the heels of a relatively quiet, yet solid pre-draft campaign, Andrew Nembhard managed to fly under the radar and eventually got selected by the Indiana Pacers in the second round with the 31st overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Despite the rather modest prognostications, however, the Gonzaga standout was able to turn in a very encouraging rookie season for the surprisingly competitive Pacers. Arguably the steal of the latest draft, Nembhard ended the season firmly locked in as a core player for the franchise for years to come.
Now, how exactly solid was he in Year 1? Here is our player review of Andrew Nembhard for the 2022-23 NBA Season.
2022-23 Stats: 9.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 4.5 APG, 0.9 SPG, 44 FG%, 35.1 3FG%, 79 FT%
Andrew Nembhard cemented himself as a core figure for the Indiana Pacers
Nembhard quickly climbed the pecking order in Rick Carlisle’s rotation and eventually became a fixture in the starting lineup as Tyrese Haliburton’s running mate, starting in 63 out of 75 games played this season. With his defensive acuity, secondary playmaking, and basketball IQ, it’s not difficult to see why the Pacers were so keen to throw him into the fire early.
On a team that finished a lackluster 26th in defensive rating, Nembhard was an inarguable bright spot. Indiana consistently deployed a starting unit which was undersized on a nightly basis to rev up the offense, but the rookie combo guard was lanky and proficient enough to hold his own against taller and bulkier forwards. Put simply, the team’s poor overall defense definitely cannot be blamed on him.
Whether against LeBron and the Lakers in the bright lights of LA, or being matched up against Steph Curry and the defending champs, Nembhard never backed down. His modest numbers may paint a more reserved picture, but the rookie never seemed unfazed in any environment despite his shifting roles. When Haliburton played, he silently shone as someone who did the dirty work on defense. When the former sat, he oozed with potential as a primary creator on offense.
That being said, it wasn’t all milk and honey for Nembhard in Year 1. Perhaps as a consequence of his varying roles, the rookie had some lengthy bouts with shooting slumps this season, sometimes struggling to generate offense even as a release valve. His low volume masked some of that, but he was far from a figure of efficiency — but to be honest, that’s okay.
However, with the Pacers clearly envisioning him as Haliburton’s running mate in the backcourt (not precluding Bennedict Mathurin), Nembhard has to vastly improve in spot-up opportunities and seeking a more active role when sharing the court with his All-Star teammate. His potential as a creator is there, as augmented by his much better showings when filling in for Tyrese, but with the latter rightfully configured to lead the offense, Nembhard has to emphasize being a more lethal threat to discourage defenses from doubling down on Haliburton.
Also, Nembhard has to be a lot more aggressive in looking for his own shot — even with Haliburton on the hardwood. He’s too talented and laden with potential to simply settle as a bailout option on the corners, waiting for a kick-out. His free-throw shooting needs some more sharpening as well. Lastly, his shot selection could be better — despite shooting 72.1 % on shots at the rim, he’s hoisted a lot more mid-range, where he’s shot just 41.1%.
Player Grade: B+
That being said, Andrew Nembhard swiftly rose as a vital piece for the Indiana Pacers in their rebuild which commenced this season. Following his impressive rookie season, with more opportunities in the horizon, the rookie guard can continue growing as a two-way force for the team in the following campaign.