In a midseason deal last year, the Indiana Pacers acquired a vital player in skillful, playmaking guard Tyrese Haliburton from the Sacramento Kings together with microwave scorer Buddy Hield to boost their bench. They traded away Domantas Sabonis in that deal and later traded away Malcolm Brogdon. This indicated that the Pacers will be rebuilding with a group of fairly solid role players around Haliburton. Having said that they will be competitive and could win more games than expected even if they are still a long shot for the playoffs this season.
The Pacers aren’t in any rush to compete for a title right now. Having said that, they do have some good players. Haliburton and Myles Turner will keep their team competitive as long as they stay healthy. Of course, coach Rick Carlisle also has the ability to pull much more out of the Pacers as long as they stay intact. They’ll face an uphill struggle in the East, for sure. However, that current core of Haliburton, Turner, and Carlisle gives them a puncher’s chance to make some noise.
Outside of Haliburton and Turner, though, most of the other spots on the Pacers’ starting unit are not yet set in stone. As such, here is the Indiana Pacers player who is in danger of losing his starting job during the 2022-23 NBA training camp.
Jalen Smith’s first season in Indiana was eventful. He averaged 13.4 points and 7.6 rebounds in 22 games for the Pacers, shooting 53.1 percent overall and 37.3 percent on three-point attempts. He had six double-doubles, including 15 points and 15 rebounds off the bench in a March 3 win over the Orlando Magic.
As a free agent in the 2022 offseason, he had options as he was not required to stay in Indiana. He had suitors who could have offered him a bigger salary, but money wasn’t an issue for Smith. He wanted a chance to grow with a team that had a lot of forward momentum and potential.
Making an instant impact after joining the Pacers at the trade deadline, Jalen Smith averaged 13.4 points and 7.6 rebounds, while shooting 53.1 percent from the field.
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) April 28, 2022
The Pacers were the first club to take a chance on him before he got his stride and began to show why he was a lottery pick back in the 2020 NBA Draft. Smith stayed put as a result, formally signing with Indiana during a news conference at their practice facility in July.
Smith agreed to a three-year, $15.1 million contract with a player option for the 2024-25 season and a trade bonus equal to 10 percent of his remaining salary. Retaining the 6’10 forward at that salary seemed practically impossible at the time. Still, the Pacers found a way to make it work.
Smith was picked 10th overall by the Suns in 2020, but his third-year rookie option was rejected. Shortly after, he was transferred from Phoenix to Indiana.
The 22-year-old praised Carlisle for giving him a chance despite his lack of experience. Prior to joining the Pacers, Smith averaged 4.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 56 Suns games. He played 9.6 minutes per game, compared to 24.7 for the Pacers.
Fans expect Smith to be the Pacers’ top option to start at PF in 2022-23, but one guy who will challenge him is Oshae Brissett.
Brissett is the player Smith may have to keep an eye on throughout training camp. Brissett wowed fans every time he went onto the floor last season. Not bad for a guy who toiled in the G League before his transformation into the Pacers’ finest role player.
Carlisle frequently asked him to fill in for other players last season owing to the frequent roster rotations. Brissett spent time in his typical positions of small and power forward. However, at 6’7, 210 pounds, he was occasionally Indiana’s tallest player on the court. Because of such numbers, he was the de facto center in a couple of games.
Despite this, no Pacers fan can dispute that Brissett did not approach each game with the same enthusiasm. Every time the Canadian was on the court, he gave it his all. By the season’s end, he finished with averages of 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while shooting 35.0 percent from three-point land.
His numbers do not accurately reflect his excellent season. For example, when Brissett was on the court, the team’s offensive rating increased by 1.9 points to 114.2 points per 100 possessions.
He can also spread the floor with a good three-point shot. Brissett showed he could shoot at least two three-pointers in 20 games and three or more in 11 others. He hit a career-high six triples out of nine tries against the Boston Celtics on Feb. 27. Furthermore, with Brissett on the court, the Pacers’ offensive rebounding percentage increased by two points to 25. Individually, the forward averaged a career-high 1.6 offensive rebounds per game in 2022, with four or more rebounds in eight games.
After his first full season in the NBA, it is acceptable to feel excited about Brissett. 2022-23 will be another year of development for him. However, one thing is clear. He gives his all every time he puts on the Blue and Gold uniform. He’ll go toe-to-toe for every loose ball, rebound, and point. His skill-set and tenacity make him a viable challenger for Jalen Smith’s starting spot over in Indy.