After an impressive preseason for the Indiana Pacers 2-way player, Edmond Sumner could be poised for a big second season if the opportunity comes.
“”Just stay ready,” Sumner said of what the coaching staff has told him of his role. “Whenever my number is called just be ready.”
There might not be minutes for Sumner immediately when the season begins but if any injury to a guard or small forward occurs, it’ll likely be Sumner that steps up.
“It gives us another look with our depth,” said Darren Collison after practice on Saturday. “It’s such a long season that you never know whose going to have an opportunity to perform or play well or go down with injury God forbid. He can step right in and fulfill a role that we might need down the stretch of the season. He can play some point guard, play some two, maybe even some three. I thought he played well.”
Sumner was the first choice for Nate McMillan in the preseason when both Tyreke Evans and Cory Joseph were out with an injury. With Evans’s injury history, having a capable replacement is paramount and Sumner looks up to the task if needed.
“He’s been playing extremely well in preseason and in training camp proving that he is an NBA basketball player,” said Thad Young after practice. “… He can provide significant help to a team that needs him to step in and spot some guys some minutes and he’s shown the capability to run a team also.”
Sumner showed exactly how he can help the team in preseason with his aggressive drives to the rim. Here he snakes by Jaren Jackson Jr. on the pick and roll and dunks on multiple defenders.
It’s the type of play he couldn’t quite make last season while recovering from a torn ACL and playing in the G-League. Now that he’s fully healthy, he’s showing why he was considered a first-round prospect while at Xavier before the injury.
“I just wanted to do whatever the coaching staff asked of me,” said Sumner of his preseason success. “They wanted me to go out there and defend–that was the biggest thing–and stay aggressive so those were the two things that I was focusing on.”
Not only is he healthy, but he also worked hard over the summer training with Joey Burton, who has worked with Glenn Robinson III and Yogi Ferrell among others. Here’s an example of him translating his workouts to an actual game with the over-the-head swim move on the drive and a tough finish.
Sumner knows he still has plenty of work to do. He says that shooting is “probably one of my biggest weaknesses,” but he shot the 3-pointer fairly well in preseason play on his limited attempts making two of his five shots over four games.
“It’s more about being in the game and knocking down shots,” said Sumner. “I can go out and do a workout do whatever, but I got to go out into the game and translate it and make shots.”
Perhaps the biggest reason that McMillan was so comfortable using him in the preseason was his strong defense. Sumner’s length gives him the versatility to defend the 1, 2 and 3 spots and he averaged 1.5 steals per game in just 15 minutes. You can see his athleticism paying off in a big way on this defensive play.
“I can check multiple positions and I’m willing to defend,” said Sumner, who felt like defense was an overlooked part of his game.
His ability to get into the paint on offense was beneficial to his teammates as well as he was a willing passer when the defense focused on him, setting up Domantas Sabonis and others on many occasions averaging 1.3 assists in his time on the floor. You could see his ability to play point guard while directing traffic in the half court including one play where he waved off Evans so he could initiate the offense.
The Edmond Sumner Hype Train may take a moment before it’s full steam ahead during the regular season but if he gets an opportunity it’s going to be hard to derail it once he gathers momentum.
Sumner is currently on a 2-way contract that gives him only 45 days with the NBA team, but it’d be surprising to see him spend too much time in the G-League this year. He simply looked too good in the preseason. The Pacers may use up his days quickly before converting his deal like they did with Alex Poythress last season.