After finishing the preseason 3-1 after a victory over Maccabi Haifa, the Pacers have a week of practices before having to decide on their final roster for opening night of the 2017-2018 season.
Most of the 15 NBA-contract spots are already locked down. The following players will be on the team, barring something unexpected happening:
- Point guards: Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, Joe Young
- Shooting guards: Victor Oladipo, Lance Stephenson
- Small Forward: Bojan Bogdanovic, Glenn Robinson III
- Power Forward: Thaddeus Young, Domantas Sabonis, TJ Leaf
- Center: Myles Turner, Al Jefferson, Ike Anigbogu
That’s 13 spots that are likely sealed up and all but guaranteed. The remaining two spots will in all likelihood come from the Pacers training camp roster. These players’ odds of making the team range from almost guaranteed to basically no shot at all.
The 2-way Contract Players:
2-way deals are new to the NBA this season. Each team gets two of these deals, adding two additional spots to the roster, though they do not have contracts that pay the level of an NBA contract. These 2-way contracts allow the Pacers to keep player rights and 2-way players can spend up to 45 days with the Pacers in the regular season. They will spend the majority of their time with the Pacers D-League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
- Alex Poythress: Poythress played nearly all of last season with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, but finished the year with the Philadelphia Sixers, even making multiple 3-pointers against the Pacers in a game late last season. Ideally, Poythress is a stretch four, but he can play the small forward position which may help his odds of making the team with the Glenn Robinson III injury. If the Pacers promote him to the active roster, they could give a 2-way deal to another player. Odds of making the roster: 40%
- Edmond Sumner: The Pacers rookie is recovering from a torn ACL injury and the 2-year, 2-way contract that he signed gives him time to heal and then an opportunity to play with the Mad Ants once he’s ready. The athletic point guard won’t be on the NBA active roster when the season starts as he’s still rehabbing. Odds of making the roster: 0%
Almost a Lock:
- Damien Wilkins: The 37-year-old veteran that hasn’t played in the NBA in any of the past four seasons looks almost guaranteed to make this Pacers roster. In the Pacers final preseason game, which Nate McMillan used as a dress rehearsal for the opening night rotation, it was Wilkins that replaced Glenn Robinson III as the backup small forward. While he played only five minutes, Wilkins was the 10th-man in the game. While it can be argued that the Pacers would be better served using one of the final two spots on a younger player that may develop into someone who can help them in the future, Wilkins showed that he’ll be an okay replacement while Robinson heals up and can hit an open 3-pointer on the perimeter. Odds of making the roster: 90%
A Decent Chance:
- Jarrod Uthoff: Last year with the Mad Ants, Uthoff played his way into an end-of-the-season deal with the Dallas Mavericks. He looked good in the preseason while averaging 5.5 points in his two games played, shooting 56% from the field and 50% from 3-point range. The problem for Uthoff is that he’s a very similar player to Pacers first-round pick TJ Leaf. This could be seen as a good thing as he could possibly step right into Leaf’s role as the backup four if the rookie went down, or the Pacers will look to add something different to the roster. If he doesn’t make the team, he’ll likely re-join the Mad Ants. Odds of making the roster: 35%
- Ben Moore: Moore is an undrafted rookie out of SMU. The defensive stalwart has received praise from Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer for being a potential undrafted success story. Kevin Pritchard also has said that they have hopes for him to become a Bruce Bowen type player that learns to shoot the corner three to go with his great defensive skillset. Moore’s playing time was limited in the preseason, but he’s been around the Pacers in the Summer League and through training camp. He’ll join the Mad Ants if he doesn’t make the roster. Odds of making the roster: 30%
A Loyd Christmas Chance:
- DeQuan Jones: The one thing helping Jones in his quest to make the team is the position that he plays. Unlike Moore, Uthoff, and Poythress, Jones best spot is at the wing, where the Pacers are most in need of another player, especially with the GR3 injury. Jones actually played in all four preseason games, but didn’t play all that well: averaging 1.5 points on just 38% shooting. Like Wilkins, Jones hasn’t played in the NBA in four seasons. He is still only 27. Odds of making the roster: 10%
- Trey McKinney-Jones: McKinney-Jones has been with the Mad Ants for multiple seasons. He’s been out with an injury during the preseason and didn’t play in any of the four contests. Odds of making the roster: 0%
What I’m worried the Pacers will do with the final two roster spots:
Damien Wilkins and DeQuan Jones or Damien Wilkins and nobody, keeping the one spot open
What I’d be thrilled with for the final two roster spots:
Two of Poythress, Moore and Uthoff with the odd man out getting (or keeping) the 2-way contract.