1. Ben Sheppard
Since we’re highlighting the young guys today, it would be best to start with the rookie himself, Ben Sheppard, out of Belmont.
Sheppard is no stranger to impressive performances, despite this only being his second preseason game. In the loss to Memphis, he put up 15 points and knocked down three three-pointers. He was a highly touted prospect because of his three-point shooting and defensive abilities, which he showed off in the Houston matchup.
While Sheppard didn’t score as much as he did against Memphis, only putting up 11 points this time, he was far more efficient, shooting 4-of-9 from the field and an impressive 3-of-7 from behind the arc. This shooting ability is his ticket to a long and successful NBA career, as Sheppard’s stroke from long distance is as impressive as it gets for a rookie.
In addition to the offensive ability, Sheppard’s defense has also been quite impressive, as perhaps his biggest highlight of the game came by way of a thunderous rejection of a Fred VanVleet layup, showcasing his talent on the other side of the ball as well.
Overall, Sheppard had a very solid game, as in addition to the 11 points, he also recorded four rebounds, four assists, and the aforementioned block in just over 23 minutes of action.
Sheppard placed second on the team in minutes for the night behind Jarace Walker’s 27. This is another fantastic thing to note, as Indiana’s two top-minute getters on the night were rookies. This is a great sign for the future and what Rick Carlisle has in store for the season in terms of rotation structure.
Speaking of rotation structure, Sheppard has often been left out of potential season and playoff rotations by Indiana Pacers fans. However, if he keeps up this play going into the regular season, it is going to be hard to ignore his contributions and not give him an increased role on the team, even with Rick Carlisle being notoriously hard on rookies from Day 1.