2 Indiana Pacers players on breakout watch, 1 on flop watch

Indiana Pacers, Bennedict Mathurin
Indiana Pacers, Bennedict Mathurin /
4 of 4
Indiana Pacers, Isaiah Jackson
Indiana Pacers, Isaiah Jackson /

3. Isaiah Jackson

Cutting away from the optimism here, Isaiah Jackson is a player whose future is uncertain at the moment. Coming to Indiana through a multi-team trade on draft night, Jackson was already a questionable pick at 22, not due to his talent in any way, but due to his position.

Listed as a power forward/center, many were questioning why Indiana would take a big man when they already had a logjam in the frontcourt with the Myles Turner/Domantas Sabonis experiment still going on.

Following the Sabonis trade, Jackson’s production drastically improved in the second half of the season, with his points average going from five to 11 and his minute per game going from nine to 21. This promise was enough for Pacers fans to believe in Jackson as the backup center for the future and perhaps a future starter if Myles Turner were to leave.

One year can make a big difference, however, as not only is Turner most likely not going anywhere anytime soon, but Jalen Smith has emerged as the clear-cut backup center following the preseason, something that fans were not expecting considering his relatively disappointing play in the 2022-23 season.

With Smith being the more-than-likely option for backup center and Daniel Theis still being on the team, this leaves Jackson in an odd situation. At only 22 years old, it would be a bit premature to give up on the big man this early, especially when he has shown some promise in his two years in the league.

However, this is one of the consequences of having a team as deep as the Pacers do. When you have so many talented guys that need minutes, some of them are going to have to go, and for Indiana, it may have to be Jackson.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the Indiana Pacers should look to trade him as soon as possible and not weigh out their options, but it is to say that if Jackson does not distinguish himself from every young player in the league this upcoming season and really stand out from the pack and give Indiana a reason to keep him, it may be time to explore the market.

A big man as young and talented as he is and with as much upside as he has is hard to come by in today’s NBA, and Jackson possesses the defense and raw athleticism that a team like Memphis would love to have.

Next. Pacers Preseason Grades: Jarace Walker and Ben Sheppard. dark

Maybe it isn’t time to trade Jackson just yet. The best option would be to let him prove himself and show why he deserves to be a part of this team going forward. However, this is most certainly a make-or-break season for number 22, at least when it comes to his future in Indiana.