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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Ben Sheppard

Stats: 57 Games, 14.3 MPG, 4.4 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.3 TOV, 1.5 FPG 39.3/31.4/88.5 Splits on 52.4% TS

From one rookie to another, one with significant playing time, however.

Taken in the late first round out of Belmont, Ben Sheppard was not expected to be much out the gate. Initially projected to be a G League guy, this is exactly what Sheppard was doing in the first stretch of the season.

In the first 40 games of the season prior to the Siakam trade, Sheppard only played 18 games and averaged 7.4 minutes, with every one of those minutes except for five coming in garbage time. This surprised nobody, as Sheppard wasn't expected to be a rotation player, and fans were more focused on Jarace Walker's lack of minutes during this period.

However, something changed after the Siakam trade. With Bruce Brown and Jordan Nwora gone, some minutes opened up, and Sheppard was right there to receive them. In the final 41 games of the season, Sheppard turned into a serious rotation player, averaging 17 minutes per game and only logging three DNPs, two of which he was injured for.

This led to some fantastic performances, such as his late-game heroics against Denver on January 23, his 10 points in 21 minutes and lockdown defense against Toronto on February 14, and his 15 and 12 points in the two Dallas meetings, both of which led to wins.

Going back to the start of the season, Sheppard was thought of as a strange pick, as Indiana had plenty of guard play as is, and needed something else with the 26th pick. At least, that was what fans thought at the time. Since then, Sheppard has proven them wrong and turned into a serious rotation player and maybe even a factor in the playoffs. He, of course, gets a good grade.

Final Grade: B+ (Welcome surprise, might be a playoff guy soon)