Negative: Youngsters’ minutes point of concern
This may come off as nitpicking a bit, but Rick Carlisle’s minutes distribution against Cleveland was quite puzzling. While Carlisle usually tries to play all his players if possible, that was not the case on Saturday night.
Five players on the Indiana Pacers logged DNPs tonight, with four of them being young guys: Isaiah Jackson, Jordan Nwora, and rookies Ben Sheppard and Jarace Waker.
Jackson and Walker stand out to me the most out of this bunch, as they probably have the most to gain from extended minutes. Isaiah Jackson enters the season as the third-string center behind Myles Turner and Jalen Smith and needs to get opportunities to prove himself before the team looks to potentially move him.
Jarace Walker is a different case. Coming into the league as Indiana’s lottery pick, whom they traded one spot down to acquire, the belief going into the season was that Walker would get ample minutes as the backup power forward behind Obi Toppin, with some even calling for Carlisle to start him right out the gate.
Safe to say this hasn’t happened yet, as, following a scoreless debut against Washington, where he only played six minutes, Walker did not see any floor time against Cleveland and is still yet to score his first NBA basket.
Like I said in the Wizards piece, fans should not be too worried about this initially, as Rick Carlisle is probably still looking over his rotation and deciding what works and what doesn’t. This is especially hard when it comes to rookies, as Carlisle is not known to give rookies big minutes until they prove themselves, and Walker will just have to wait for his time.
Despite the lack of minutes initially, I believe Jarace Walker will play great when given minutes, as he will bolster the defense and hustle of the second unit and be a perfect backup to Obi Toppin.