Indiana Pacers Post-Draft Grades: the good, the bad, and the Aussie

The Indiana Pacers drafted three players in the 2024 NBA Draft, all in the second round. Let's take a minute to grade these selections.
2024 NBA Draft - Round One
2024 NBA Draft - Round One / Sarah Stier/GettyImages
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Tristen Newton (Round 2: Pick 49):

I can't really summarize it better than this tweet right here.

Sure enough, you can never have too many Andrew Nembhards, and that is exactly what Tristen Newton reminds me of. A known winner after back-to-back National Championships with Dan Hurley and UConn where they relied on him quite often in the tournament, Newton is one of the older prospects in the draft, at an ancient 23 years old. However, that did not turn the Pacers off from picking him, and rightfully so.

At 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, Newton can play either guard position but thrives more as a point guard. Given his natural position, his skill set is quite vast. You would expect the lead guard on the back-to-back National Champions to be a good passer and facilitator, and that is exactly what Newton brings to the table, averaging 6.2 assists in his final college season.

Newton was also a very solid rebounder for a guard, averaging 6.6 boards per game in the 2024 college basketball season. All in all, Newton was arguably the second or third-best player on the 2024 UConn team, leading the team in points and assists while ranking second in rebounds behind Donovan Clingan, who stands 10 inches taller.

Newton also led the National Champion Huskies in minutes played, with 33.2 per game while playing all 40 games, showing excellent reliability and resilience, something the Pacers could use given their history of timely injuries. He is also an excellent free throw shooter, shooting 81% this past season and as high as 89.5% in his second season of college.

As for three-point shooting, he only shot 32% from deep on 5.5 attempts this season but the potential is certainly there, given the fact that he shot 36.6% the previous season on 3.2 attempts. The most telling part about his three-point shooting is the confidence being abundant. With the shooting progress players like Jalen Smith and Aaron Nesmith made once arriving in Indy, there is a good chance Tristen Newton becomes a solid three-point shooter, and maybe even an elite one.

Newton is also a fantastic defender at the guard position, with his impressive height and wingspan for a point guard allowing him to be a pest on that end and disrupt ball handlers as well as contest shots other guards cannot contest. While his feet are not the quickest, he is still very effective on that end regardless.

Perhaps the biggest flaw with Newton so far is that he has not mastered a specific skill that may give him a niece in the NBA. Newton is very much a jack of all trades, a master of none type who excels at multiple aspects without being elite in any. Additionally, his age does call his upside into question.

At 23 years old, he is one of the oldest players in the draft, but so was Andrew Nembhard, who turned 23 at the end of his draft year. Luckily for Newton, the Pacers are a great place for a jack-of-all-trades point guard to hone his skills, and with the mentorship of Tyrese Haliburton and T.J. McConnell, Newton can almost certainly carve out a niche for himself in Indy.

It was hard for Indy to find much better value at the 49th pick than Tristen Newton. At a part of the draft where most players do not sniff consistent minutes, Newton is a proven winner at the lead guard position, perhaps the hardest position for a rookie to come into the league playing. While he may not make an impact this season, it is very easy to imagine him having an Andrew Nembhard-type impact down the road, especially if Nembhard becomes too expensive for Indy to retain in the future.

Final Grade: B+ (Can't ask for better at 49, has a future on the team for sure)