Pacers fans ‘worst nightmare’ involves potential failure of Toppin, Walker

Indiana Pacers, Obi Toppin, Jarace Walker
Indiana Pacers, Obi Toppin, Jarace Walker /

As the Indiana Pacers head into this season, they’ll need to make some lineup decisions. Most notably, the Pacers’ power forward position is in question, as guys like Jarace Walker and Obi Toppin will be battling for the starting job.

Tyrese Haliburton is running the show at point guard, Bruce Brown and Buddy Hield will likely flip-flop for the shooting guard minutes, Bennedict Mathurin has been named a starter, and Myles Turner isn’t going anywhere.

That just leaves the power forward spot, and while Toppin has been getting the nod during the preseason, Walker will likely have a chance to earn a shot as well.

Indiana Pacers fans ‘worst nightmare’ involves potential failure of Obi Toppin, Jarace Walker

One of the two will need to play well for Indiana, and if they don’t, it could be rough. According to Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report, Pacers fans “worst nightmare” heading into this season is that the power forward position doesn’t get figured out.

“The one unanswered question—beyond the fate of Buddy Hield, that is—is whether the Pacers have properly filled their void at power forward,” Buckley wrote. “They’ve made multiple attempts to do that, including spending the No. 8 pick on Jarace Walker and trading for 2020’s No. 8 pick Obi Toppin, but there is no guarantee these investments pan out.”

Toppin joins the Pacers after a few rocky seasons with the New York Knicks in which he struggled to earn consistent minutes under head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Meanwhile, Indiana selected Walker with the eighth pick in the 2023 NBA Draft after he spent one season at Houston, helping them to a number-one seed in the NCAA Tournament.

However, there are some concerns with each player, as outlined by Buckley.

“Walker is an iffy shooter with loose handles, and Toppin might be a better athlete than a hooper,” Buckley wrote. “Both have bottom-out potential in their worst-case scenarios, so it’s possible Indiana will have to pump more resources into this weak spot.”

Buckley’s concerns are valid, but both have a ton of upside, too. Walker is a solid defender and a solid post scorer, while Toppin’s athletic ability should create a scary duo with Haliburton in the pick-n-roll.

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Chances are things work out for the Pacers with Toppin and Walker battling it out for starter minutes, but only time will tell.