The Pacers can give up on Jalen Smith
Jalen Smith put together a disappointing campaign based on preseason expectations. After notching 13.4 points per game the prior season in 22 outings as a Pacer, Smith mustered just 9.4 points per contest while shooting only 28.3% from downtown.
Many projected Smith as a full-time starter before last season, expecting him to slot in as Myles Turner’s primary frontcourt mate. Instead, the 23-year-old stretch four only started in 31 of his 68 appearances. Smith saw less and less action as the season progressed, starting in just five of his last 40 contests. During that stretch, Smith averaged a modest 16.5 minutes per game.
All in all, Indiana’s logjam of frontcourt talent has limited Smith more than anything. Aside from Turner and his status as top dog in the center rotation, second-year big man Isaiah Jackson turned heads with his sublime shot-blocking prowess and some serious bounce to go along with it. Jackson’s 3.2 blocks per 36 minutes provide an interior presence that Smith simply doesn’t.
Smith has also struggled to thrive next to Haliburton the way many other young Pacers have. In four primary Indiana lineups that included both Haliburton and Smith, none of them posted a positive net rating.
While Smith could end up taking another leap down the road, his ceiling is likely limited on this Pacers squad. Already equipped with two bigs who mesh much better with Haliburton, Indiana would be wise to move on from the former Sun.
Given Smith’s limited opportunity for growth on the current roster, Indy should try to shop the young forward for other complimentary pieces that could fill some greater positional needs.