When former Gonzaga Bulldog Andrew Nembhard was selected 31st overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 2022 NBA draft, it wasn’t immediately clear what kind of role he might have with his new team.
Nembhard was behind both Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. McConnell for playing time at the true point guard position, and combo guards Tyrese Haliburton, Chris Duarte, and fellow rookie (and Canadian) Benn Mathurin will soak up plenty of minutes elsewhere in the backcourt.
It looked like Nembhard would settle into third point guard duties on a rebuilding team – not exactly an ideal scenario but one he certainly would have made the most of.
Except, less than a week after the draft concluded, things cleared up quite a bit in Indiana after the Pacers sent Brogdon – the presumed starter – to the Boston Celtics for a package that includes Daniel Thies and a future first round pick.
So, what does this mean for the 31st overall pick? Well, McConnell is currently slotted in as the starting point guard on the depth chart, but Nembhard could easily play his way into backup duties and a consistent spot in coach Rick Carlisle’s rotation with a strong summer league performance.
Plus, with Indiana somewhat transparently shedding salary and tanking for a top pick in 2023, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this team move McConnell, who is owed over $8 million in each of the next two seasons and $9.3 million ($5 million guaranteed) in 2024-2025.
The ball no doubt resides in Nembhard’s court, and if the pick and roll specialist can continue to display the knockdown outside shooting we saw from him in his final season at Gonzaga, he could end up playing big minutes as a rookie for a (likely bad) Indiana squad.
The experience he’ll gain will be crucial to him maintaining a spot in the league for many years, and if Indiana can turn things around with a strong draft in 2023, perhaps he’ll be playing a key role on a contending team in short order.
Host – Locked on Zags Podcast
Writer – Ducks Wire