Indiana Pacers reveal internal battle for backup center position

Indiana Pacers, Daniel Theis, Isaiah Jackson, Jalen Smith
Indiana Pacers, Daniel Theis, Isaiah Jackson, Jalen Smith /

The Indiana Pacers will be heading into next season with high expectations. Before Tyrese Haliburton went down last year, they had a real shot at making the playoffs.

Now, with Haliburton, Myles Turner, Benedict Mathurin, and the rest of the squad ready to grow together, Indiana will have their sights set on improvement.

However, while the roster looks great, the rotations aren’t set in stone. Pacers GM Chad Buchanan recently revealed that Indiana will be keeping a close eye on the battle for backup center minutes behind Turner.

Indiana Pacers reveal internal battle for backup center position

Daniel Theis, Isaiah Jackson, and Jalen Smith will all be fighting for that playing time on the Indiana Pacers. (H/t Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star)

“I think obviously Myles is going to be an anchor for us,” Buchanan said. “The other three guys between Isaiah, Jalen, and Daniel, it’s going to be very competitive starting from Day 1. It is competitive. It’s guys going at each other. I think that’s going to carry over into training camp. I think coach (Rick) Carlisle and us as a front office want to see how it plays out on the court. We don’t want to give anybody something right now, it’s gotta be earned. That’s the growth of a team, and the growth of a player is earning your minutes and earning your roles.”

All three players have their own unique skilsets, and there’s an argument that each of them should be the primary backup behind Turner. But Buchanan made it clear that they’ll have to earn their minutes.

Theis just wrapped up a championship run with Germany in the FIBA World Cup. He’s a great veteran who does a bit of everything and is likely the best screen-setter of the bunch.

Jackson brings a bit more athleticism to the mix with his length and shot-blocking. And at just 21 years old, he could use the minutes to continue to develop.

As for Smith, his floor spacing would help the Pacers run some of the same looks they run with Turner on the court. He’s also still young and will be entering his fourth season at 23 years old.

The trio of big men will battle it out in training camp and during the preseason to see who gets the bulk of the backup minutes, but the competition will probably carry on into the season.

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Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle will want to see each of them on the court and what they can bring to the table, and this will definitely be a battle for Pacers fans to keep an eye on heading into the season.