How did the Indiana Pacers do in their first few games of the NBA Summer League?
The Pacers ended their first three games in the Summer League with a record of 2-1. They took wins over the Washington Wizards and Orlando Magic but fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday. Led by the 21 points scored by guard Andrew Nembhard, Indiana scored 108 points against the Magic at the Thomas and Mack Center on Monday. All five of Indiana’s starters scored in double figures that game, including two of the Pacers’ selections in the 2023 NBA Draft.
The Pacers finished their first three Summer League games with an average of 95.3 points per game, putting them at seventh in the league ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors and Detroit Pistons. Their 45.3 rebounds per game put them near the top of the league, taking spots just behind the Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics.
Along with a few former college and G League standouts, Indiana’s Summer League roster featured a multitude of members from last year’s Pacers squad. Nembhard, forward Isaiah Jackson and guard Bennedict Mathurin were among those who played on Indiana’s NBA roster last year. Windy City Bulls guard Ethan Thompson and Oklahoma City Blue forward Robert Woodard II joined them from the G League. Former Kentucky center Oscar Tshiebwe, the National College Player of the Year in 2022, made the roster after he was signed to a two-way contract.
What can the Pacers learn from their first three games of the 2023 NBA Summer League?
Jarace Walker shows promise for Pacers
Can Walker live up to the hype?
The 6-foot-8 forward was taken with the No. 8 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. The Pacers traded their No. 7 selection for the No. 8 choice and two second-round picks in 2028. Walker averaged 11.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 blocks and one steal per game during the 36 games he played in college, paving the path towards being named the American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year and taking a spot on the Conference’s All-Freshman Team.
Walker ended the first few games of his Summer League run with averages of 14.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. While he hasn’t shot efficiently during the Pacers’ July schedule, hitting 36.7% of his attempts from the field and 22.2% of his 3-point attempts, he has shown that he can positively impact other parts of the floor.
If Walker can improve his scoring efficiency and replicate what he has shown in the Summer League, he and forward Obi Toppin will only add to the Pacers’ options at the four.
Andrew Nembhard still has potential
Nembhard, the former 31st pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, played in 75 games and started in 63 for the Pacers last year. His 2022-23 season was highlighted by a 31-point, eight-rebound and 13-assist performance against the Golden State Warriors in December, hitting 13 of his 21 shot attempts as the Pacers took a 112-104 victory at the Chase Center.
Nembhard ended his two games in the Summer League with averages of 17.5 points, three rebounds and 7.5 assists in 31.4 minutes played per game. He starred in Indiana’s matchup with Orlando, dropping 21 points, dishing seven assists and grabbing three steals during the 108-85 Pacers victory.
“He played great,” Indiana Summer League coach Jannero Pargo said, via the Spokesman-Review. “There’s just a comfort level having him out there with the ball. He makes the right read, makes the right play. He keeps us settled and gets us into offense without any problem.”
If Nembhard can continue showing his ability to make the right reads, he can be one of many guard options the Pacers can fall back on during the 2023-24 season.
The Pacers will face the Dallas Mavericks at 7 p.m. EDT on Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.
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