Jarace Walker and Ben Sheppard's potential roles with the Pacers with Bennedict Mathurin's injury

Bennedict Mathurin's recent surgery and departure for the rest of the season opens up more playing time for some of the Pacers' most promising young talents.
Oct 8, 2023; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Jarace Walker (5), Memphis Grizzlies
Oct 8, 2023; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Jarace Walker (5), Memphis Grizzlies / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

As you may know, Bennedict Mathurin has officially been ruled out for the season after it was announced that he would undergo surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder. This is a huge blow to the Pacers, who keep having to deal with injury after injury and have rarely seen their fully healthy team come out since Pascal Siakam's arrival.

This injury cuts a little deeper for the Pacers, as Mathurin is easily the third-best shot-creator on the team and the best bench scorer. In addition, his slower paced style of play seems to be well suited for the playoffs when defenses tighten up and the Pacers can't play as fast as they do in the regular season. With Mathurin's departure, Indiana will have to look for different ways to distribute the offensive load.

For this distribution, some have suggested that Lance Stephenson make a return, as they always do when Indiana has a roster spot open. But this seems unnecessary. While Stephenson is a fan favorite, his inclusion in a playoff rotation may not be ideal, as he has not contributed to winning NBA teams since 2018, when he was in his second Indiana stint. Adding Stephenson would be fine for a locker room morale move and confidence boost, but not as a rotation player.

Jarace Walker and Ben Sheppard will get more opportunities for the Pacers

Instead, Indiana should look to two guys who have shown very promising flashes this year, Jarace Walker and Ben Sheppard. Ever since the start of the season, Walker's lack of minutes has been a main talking point for Pacers fans, and his constant G-League assignments have frustrated plenty of people who think Rick Carlisle and the front office aren't taking his development seriously. As for Sheppard, his expectations were quite low to begin with, as nobody thought a late first-round pick would amount to much in his first season on a playoff-contending team.

In some ways, Walker and Sheppard have started their careers off as the exact opposite of what people expected. While fans expected Walker to get decent minutes right out the gate, he has struggled with playing time but shows great flashes when he gets some, like his 15-point night in Sacramento. As for Sheppard, he has come into his own in the last few games, shooting lights out from deep and playing some fantastic defense, which has led many to label him as Indiana's Buddy Hield replacement.

In my opinion, these are the two who need to be propped up in Mathurin's absence. While neither of them possesses the shot-creating abilities Mathurin had that made him so instrumental to the Pacers' offense, both are better defenders and bring more intangibles to the state.

The main gripe with Mathurin at this point of his career is that if his shot is not falling, he does not do much else to warrant being on the floor. This could not be any more different for Walker and Sheppard, as both are very solid defenders and bring plenty more to make up for their lack of offensive self-creation.

The addition of Jarace Walker and Ben Sheppard can work wonders for the Pacers going forward, as they can add a new weapon to their team play, with a slowed-down offensive system possibly being implemented at times. In the playoffs, the Pacers will be taken to the limit and their offensive and defensive capabilities will be tested.

For this, it would be a very wise decision to have a fantastic defender and secondary playmaker like Walker and a great defender and spot-up shooter like Sheppard out there to add more layers to Indiana's overall play.

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Jarace Walker and Ben Sheppard need more minutes going forward, and if this experiment goes well and they fully play their way into the rotation, the Pacers will be scary in the playoffs and even scarier when Mathurin returns for the 2024-25 season.