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
12 of 17

Jarace Walker

Stats: 33 Games, 10.3 MPG, 3.6 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 0.5 TOV, 0.9 FPG 40.9/40/88.9 Splits on 52.7% TS

And now we get to the rookies.

Let's start with Jarace Walker. After not getting much playing time in the first half of the season, only logging 10.2 minutes per game in 17 out of a possible 56 pre-All-Star break games, hopes were high for Walker to get some extra playing time after the Pascal Siakam trade, even potentially moving down a position to small forward to make the rotation work.

Unfortunately, this did not happen. Despite showing some promise at small forward and even inching closer to the rotation at times, Walker was never made a full part of the team's rotation, playing the majority of his minutes in blowouts. Of the 240 minutes Walker logged in the second half of the season, only around 44 of them came in games decided by less than 10 points. The rest were the typical end-of-game bench-clearing business that every team does.

This did get frustrating at times, as Walker clearly had the tools to be a rotation player judging by the flashes he showed during the season, like when he helped cut a 30+ point Pelicans lead to 11 in the second quarter of what would end up being a blowout, or when he scored 15 points against Sacramento to help propel a depleted Pacers team to victory.

However, for every one of these performances, there came one or two reminders of why Walker was still not a rotation player. His IQ on both sides of the ball left plenty to be desired, and there were times when he clearly was out of his league on defense, despite showing flashes in college and in the G League.

Was it the right decision to keep Walker glued to the bench for the majority of the season? That is up for debate. Plenty of Pacers fans will say that he should have been getting reps all year and that he cannot learn from the bench, while others will tell you he is not NBA-ready yet and cannot be trusted in a rotation.

To me, the answer is a mix of both. Walker clearly has the tools to be a good NBA player, which he will be very soon, but he is certainly a project. Indiana took him on draft night knowing he was not a finished product, and likely had some G League time ready for him before the season started.

Going further into the season, as the Pacers started playing better than expected, Walker, as a rookie, did not have enough trust to get a consistent rotation spot, but was always kept on for moments such as the Kings game, where he got a chance to show his skills and learn on the fly.

Jarace Walker absolutely has a spot on this Pacers team, and there is a reason why Indiana was adamant about not including him in a potential Pascal Siakam trade. It is clear the Pacers value him quite a bit and want to keep him on board to develop.

If they did not think anything of him, they would not have traded to acquire him on draft night. Still only 20 years old, Walker has plenty of room to grow, and the flashes he showed this season clearly proved that.

Final Grade: C+ (Good flashes in limited playing time, but still a work in progress)