It still feels like the dust is settling from a venturesome off-season for the Indiana Pacers. Rebuilding is never an easy task, especially when you’re basically forced to and have to trade your best player who isn’t exactly content. You add in the factor that anyone who traded for Paul George, knew it’s basically a one-year rental. For that reason, Indiana didn’t receive what many people perceive as equal value in the trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder for Paul George. The Pacers received forward Domantas Sabonis and guard Victor Oladipo in the trade. Again, not an ideal package for George, but nonetheless helps the rebuilding process with the addition of two young up-and-coming players.
Coming into pre-season, the Pacers have 13 players that are under guaranteed deals, which means that there are technically two spot. Both Damien Wilkins and Jarrod Uthoff are on those partial contracts and have to earn their spot on the Pacers roster to begin the regular season. Which, I believe both will.
With Glenn Robinson III currently injured, I believe that immediately opens up an opportunity for a wing player like to snatch a roster spot. The Pacers have brought 20 players to training camp, which is the league maximum due to the NBA’s CBA rules. 15 of those 20 will make the final Pacers roster to begin the regular season. With that being said, I would like to focus on who will and won’t make the final roster for the Pacers, so I focus more on who will be transitioning to the G League to play with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants to start the 2017-18 season.
Looking at the Training Camp roster, there’s many guys that obviously are locks to see significant time for the Pacers this season are Myles Turner, Oladipo, Al Jefferson, Darren Collison, Thaddeus Young, Cory Joseph, Lance Stephenson, Glenn Robinson III (injured), T.J. Leaf, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Sabonis.
After that, it’s key to look at guys that have already spent a significant amount of time in the NBA prior to this year. Guys like Joe Young and Damien Wilkins have spent time at the NBA level, especially Wilkins, who is approaching his 38th birthday in January. I believe those guys should make the team. Wilkins makes it based on Robinson III’s injury and he provides a defensive-minded player on the wing and a veteran presence as well.
With two spots remaining, you can then look at the young up-and-coming players. Guys that have spent time in both the G-League and the NBA. For the final spots, it basically leaves Ike Anigbogu, Edmond Sumner, Poythress, and Jarrod Uthoff. Out of these guys, Poythress is should be the guy who comes out on top. He provides athleticism to an up-tempo team, not to mention he played some solid ball with the Philadelphia 76ers during the final stages of last season. If the Pacers are too weary to immediately bring in Poythress, due to him being on a two-way deal, Uthoff has a good case for himself since he spent some time with the Dallas Mavericks last season.
Both Anigbogu and Sumner are second-round picks. Anigbogu was selected 47th in the 2017 NBA Draft by Indiana, and Sumner was traded to Indiana by the New Orleans Pelicans after being selected as the 52nd pick. Anigbogu has shown some conditioning concerns early on in camp, but seems to have addressed those issues and seemingly getting into NBA shape. Meanwhile, Sumner is expected to be ready to hop back on the court until January due to the ACL tear that he suffered back when he was with Xavier. When he returns, he’ll be rehabbingwith the Mad Ants as he’s under a two-way deal with the Pacers.
When it comes to guys like Trey McKinney-Jones, DeQuan Jones, and Ben Moore, they’re likely to remain within the Pacers organization as members of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. It’ll be an exciting group of guys as Mad Ants head coach Steve Gansey has spent a lot of time with Pacers coach Nate McMillian learning more and more from the veteran coach. After speaking with coach Gansey, he weighed in on who’s surprised him thus far and what’s he’s thought of training camp so far overall;
“ TJ Leaf is soaking everything up,” Gansey told Ridiculous Upside about the Pacers 1st round pick. “Asking questions and understanding schemes more, and more. He had been competing every day.”“Guys are still trying to compete for a Pacers roster slot. I have spoke with Trey, Alex, and Edmond about Fort Wayne but that's it. Alex is playing well and has got stronger. Trey and Edmond have been rehabbing and working on their shooting.”
It’s going to be interesting to see how the final roster looks for the Pacers. As I’ve already mentioned, that final decision by the organization should have a significant effect on how the Mad Ants’ roster looks when the G League season begins. However, I think that core of training camp invites combined with the recent addition of C.J. Fair, should allow the Mad Ants to have a formidable roster when the 2017-18 G League begins next month.