Pacers Report Cards: Grading every Pacers player at season's end

With the playoffs on the way, now is a good time to give out end-of-season grades for every Pacers player.
Mar 16, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA;  Indiana Pacers forward Pascal Siakam (43) celebrates with
Mar 16, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Pascal Siakam (43) celebrates with / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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Jalen Smith

Stats: 61 Games, 17.2 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1 APG, 0.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 0.7 TOV, 2 FPG 59.2/42.4/69.2 Splits on 68.2% TS

2022-23 Stats: 68 Games, 18.8 MPG, 9.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1 APG, 0.3 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 1.1 TOV, 2.3 FPG 47.6/28.3/75.9 Splits on 56.5% TS

Similarly to Andrew Nembhard, Jalen Smith's season can be split into two parts, both with different results.

In the first half of the season, as was discussed in the midseason report card, Smith was fantastic. In his first 38 games, Smith averaged 10.8 points and 5.6 rebounds on 63% from the field and 48.4% from deep, even more efficient than Obi Toppin.

It was clear that Smith worked on his weaknesses and learned from his lackluster 2023 campaign to improve on all facets of his game. Initially criticized for his rail-thin physique, Smith bulked up in the offseason, shedding his 'Stix' nickname and using his newfound strength to muscle away defenders whom he previously shied away from and improving his own defensive reputation.

However, this did not last for much longer. Following three straight missed games to close the pre-All-Star stretch and one more DNP against Detroit, Smith came out the gates rather different following the absence. While he still shot a decent percentage from the field at 52.1%, his three-point stroke was completely gone.

In contrast to the near-50% clip he shot at before, Smith only shot 32% in his final 23 games as he was clearly still affected by injury. In fact, there were times during this second-half stretch when Smith was downright unplayable, missing open shots at the rim and looking sluggish in general.

This isn't to say Smith is a complete lost cause, far from it. At his best, he still brings size and solid shooting to the table for a big man. At his worst, however, we saw exactly what happened at his worst. Additionally, with the Pacers spending plenty of money this upcoming offseason and Smith being a free agent, he most likely played his final regular season game in Indiana already, and will most likely demand a contract beyond Indiana's capacity in the playoffs.

Of course, this does not mean that Smith gets a bad grade. His first half of the season was fantastic, and he brought enough to the table to be considered a positive piece overall. While he couldn't continue the incredibly efficient run he had to start, he certainly played well enough to be regarded highly.

Final Grade: B- (Stock plummeted later in the season, but still a good year)