1. Three new lineup additions
While it’s been roughly 182 days since the Pacers last played an NBA game, judging from the roster alone, it feels like much longer.
While, of course, the Pacers have new additions in Jarace Walker, Ben Sheppard, Bruce Brown, and Obi Toppin, one thing to note is that their starting lineup has also changed drastically, with the only two remnants from the previous season’s lineup being Haliburton and Myles Turner.
Indiana has swapped out Buddy Hield at the shooting guard position for newly acquired Bruce Brown. In addition, they also swapped out Aaron Nesmith, who saw plenty of minutes as the starting small forward last season, with rookie sensation Bennedict Mathurin.
This is a move that Pacers fans had been clamoring for since December of last season when Mathurin proved himself to be worthy of starter minutes with his fantastic scoring outings.
Hield is another interesting case. Following a trade request and the Pacers potentially looking to move him before the season started, he seems to be happy in Indiana again. The front office has come out and stated that they have no intentions of moving him anytime soon.
Hield seemed to be in good spirits during media day and training camp, even asking Tyrese Haliburton a question or two about his potential spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics and talking about a dunk contest between the two.
Indy’s final move in the lineup has been a rather odd one, with Jalen Smith heading to the bench in favor of the new trade acquisition, Obi Toppin. Toppin is an interesting case, as he showed plenty of flashes in New York, albeit in limited minutes, and with him about to turn 26, time may be running out for him to potentially secure a starting spot in the league.
However, he will certainly have some help along the way, as fans have been drooling over a Haliburton/Toppin alley-oop connection, dubbing the duo the second coming of “Lob City.”
To their credit, Haliburton and Toppin have shown their eagerness to play together, with the two even having a little bit of fun at Pacers media day and training camp and throwing a few lighthearted jabs at each other.
Going into the season, some were anticipating Jarace Walker to get the starting nod, although this seemed a bit unfeasible with Rick Carlisle famously being hard on rookies out the gate. Don’t be too surprised if you see Walker getting some starting nods as the season goes on, though, as he showcased his incredible defensive ability in the Summer League and already has Pacers fans excited about what he can do.
In addition to the starting lineup changes, Andrew Nembhard will miss tonight’s game against Memphis due to having a kidney stone removed. He is expecting to join the team back sometime next week.