Career averages of 7.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.3 assists don’t exactly jump off the page, but Daniel Theis will be crucial to the success of this season’s Indiana Pacers.
The German big man is fresh off a gold medal run in the FIBA World Cup – a run in which his Germany team defeated Tyrese Haliburton and Team USA to advance to the gold medal game. Theis logged 21 points, seven rebounds, and two assists in the effort. This was no easy feat, as Team USA primarily played 2023 Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr. at center.
Theis is obviously a capable NBA center. In his six years in the NBA, he’s made four playoff appearances, each as a member of the Boston Celtics. He was a vital member of the Celtics’ 2020 Eastern Conference Finals team and was a starter for both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. His playoff experience alone is invaluable to a Pacers team hoping to participate in the 2024 postseason, but his value as a backup center is nothing to ignore.
After a gold medal run with Germany at the FIBA World Cup, Daniel Theis will be an X-factor for the Indiana Pacers next season
After multiple seasons of question marks at the backup five-spot, Daniel Theis offers some stability. He’s an NBA veteran with an accomplished record that boosts his credibility as a player.
Last season’s roster had veteran James Johnson. He was a solid player mentor who instilled proper work ethic and habits into the Pacers’ youngsters, but his contributions on the basketball court were limited.
This season’s roster has Theis. Though he missed most of last season rehabbing a knee injury, Theis was still present and active on the team. He’s familiar with the organization and its operations, so there shouldn’t be any awkward adjustments. Plus, Theis not only knows how to win, but he can make on-court contributions to help the Pacers get there.
Theis boasts a career field goal percentage of 54%, along with 33% from the three-point line. This should maintain the Pacers’ offensive style of play in which ball screens and relocation are heavily emphasized.
Rim runners like Bennedict Mathurin should benefit exponentially from Theis’s ability to seal off defenders under the basket, too. This will open up driving and cutting lanes for a potent and powerful Pacers offense.
Theis isn’t a standout defender, but his shot-blocking ability will help erase many mistakes made on the perimeter. Though slightly undersized, he possesses the physical strength and feel for the game to be a net positive on the defensive side of the ball. If nothing else, his consistency will allow the Pacers’ defense to take steps in the right direction.
The addition of an exceedingly capable backup center to a much-improved roster bolsters the playoff hopes of the 2023-24 Pacers, as Theis’ return from injury adds a sneaky piece to last year’s Pacers roster.
The steady play of Daniel Theis will bridge the gap between the starting unit and the bench guys, making the Pacers’ rotations more fluid and impactful. Though judgment has to be reserved until actual basketball is played, Theis looks to be an X-factor on this version of the Pacers.