Should Isaiah Jackson’s days with Indiana Pacers be numbered?

Indiana Pacers, Isaiah Jackson
Indiana Pacers, Isaiah Jackson /

By now, I’m sure most fans are familiar with the Indiana Pacers’ recent 51-point loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, the second-biggest loss in franchise history and the worst loss since 1977.

We have discussed what exactly went wrong in that loss and even touched on a positive aspect in Jarace Walker contributing 12 solid minutes off the bench despite Rick Carlisle’s hesitance to play him meaningful minutes.

However, in the midst of this historic loss and varying performances from young players, one name got lost in the mix, and it’s a name that I have talked about before: Third-year big man Isaiah Jackson.

I have covered Isaiah Jackson before and even listed him as a player that Indiana may want to move on from sooner rather than later. This does not exactly have to do with any lack of talent on Jackson’s part, but rather that the Pacers are an incredibly deep team, and there may not be enough minutes to go around for Jackson once Jarace Walker and Ben Sheppard start getting consistent minutes.

So far in the season, Jalen Smith has been playing exceptionally well, completely taking any memories of his subpar 2022-23 campaign out of the minds of fans and fully locking down the backup center spot for the future. Since Smith was also sitting out Wednesday, Jackson got some playing time and did okay for the most part, but fans were not happy nonetheless.

A lot of this frustration stems from Jackson’s lack of improvement since his rookie season, as he is more or less the same player, still struggling with fouls and still a project despite being in his third year. In addition to that, Jarace Walker played six fewer minutes than Jackson on the night and outperformed him in that limited time despite not playing at all in the last two games.

While it is true that Isaiah Jackson is only 21 years old, and giving up on a 21-year-old on a young team wouldn’t be the best decision, it also should be taken into account that the Pacers are struggling to give their eighth-overall pick playing time in this loaded frontcourt rotation.

It doesn’t exactly help Jackson’s case that, in the short time Walker did play on Wednesday, he played the center position, which possibly adds another big man ahead of Jackson in the rotation.

Keep in mind, this is also with Daniel Theis having barely played at all. Once Theis gets in the rotation and Walker starts getting consistent minutes, there may not be a place on the team for Isaiah Jackson, and his services might be better needed elsewhere rather than on the bench behind a loaded Indiana frontcourt.

Out of all the young players on Indiana’s roster, I believe Jackson has the shortest leash, and that leash will only get shorter once Jarace Walker gets more minutes, Jalen Smith keeps his improvement, and Daniel Theis gets back into the rotation.

Next. 1 positive, 2 negatives from Pacers blowout loss to Celtics. dark

If he wants to stay in the rotation for the future, Isaiah Jackson is going to have to step up and show the front office and Rick Carlisle why he belongs on this team and why he isn’t just another athletic big-man project.