The Pacers rotation and the possibilities

Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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Indiana Pacers
Jordan Nwora, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Julio Aguilar/2023 Julio Aguilar) /

Finally, we have power forwards

Gone are the days of playing small forwards at the power forward spot. Aaron Nesmith and Jordan Nwora did the best they could last season and between Nesmith’s defense and Nwora’s scoring, they helped fill that 4 spot and kept the floor spaced enough for others to thrive. But with the moves made this offseason, we actually have some depth in our frontcourt that’s not just a bunch of wings and bigs who we throw out to play forward. We drafted Jarace Walker with the #8 pick we got from Washington (got two 2nd rounders as well) as well as traded for Obi Toppin from the Knicks. (for two 2nd rounders in return) Both of these guys will fit the traditional power forward spot that we have so desperately lacked since pretty much Thaddeus Young.

Now in terms of who starts, there are arguments for both guys. My initial thought is Toppin gets the initial nod and can show what he can really do in a heavy transition offense. Him playing alongside Haliburton will be a show all in itself. He has shown flashes in his career of high scoring outputs but with career averages of 7 points and 3 rebounds, should he be considered more than a role player? Only time will tell, but surely playing with Tyrese Haliburton will unlock any potential Obi Toppin still has. Defenses will have to account for him wherever he is on the court and I hope his ability to cut and score inside will only be accentuated by his new point guard. Not to mention he is an improving 3-pt shooter that teams will not be able to just leave open so the teams’ spacing will still be there. But the real show starts when Obi is running the floor in transition, bee-lining towards the rim trying to catch a crazy alley-oop. His biggest strength in the NBA is his athleticism and ability to score when the floor is open and that will only get better with equally great transition players like Tyrese Haliburton and Bruce Brown. Excitement is truly the best word to describe what Obi Toppin brings to this Pacer’s team, but he is not the only one we should be excited to see start their Pacer’s career.

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The arguments for Jarace Walker to start for the Pacers is simple: he is our first-round pick, he needs to learn, and we are still rebuilding. Why not give him as many opportunities as possible right out of the gate? Especially when every player who plays next to Tyrese Haliburton instantly seems to have an easier time on the court. One luxury the Pacers have is that Andrew Nembhard is also a great floor raiser and if he is the primary ball handler off the bench then we can be sure no matter what part of the rotation Jarace Walker fits into, he will be accompanied by great guard play.

For where we are in the offseason, I think Toppin starts and Jarace Walker will be his primary backup. Walker played one season at Houston and is only 19, so Rick Carlisle might very well take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to how Jarace reacts to opposing forwards. Similar to Bennedict Mathurin last year, he will be given opportunities to succeed and make winning plays but that doesn’t mean he needs to start. Obi Toppin will be given the chance to show just how good he can be in the NBA and with the spacing and transition speed the team will give him, I think he can be a very low-risk high-reward player. Now, the rotation is not complete and to be able to round it out, we have to look at ALL the options presented to us…