The road from college prospect to NBA rookie is fraught with excitement, hardships, and lofty goals. There is a lot of anticipation in the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft, as young players go from preparing for workouts and interviews to hearing their names called and finding themselves in new places with new teammates. Such was the case for the Indiana Pacers' rookies, who recently got their first taste of professional basketball in Las Vegas during the Summer League. The Summer League gave a platform for the Pacers' newest members to demonstrate their potential and give fans a taste of what they could bring to the team. During these games, the Indiana Pacers' rookie class showed potential, hinting at the impact they could have when the regular season begins.
The Pacers drafted Jarace Walker from the University of Houston with the eighth overall choice because they believed he could be a defensive force while also contributing offensively with his high IQ and playmaking talents. Walker's Summer League performance validated these expectations. Walker demonstrated his defensive prowess by snatching the ball and creating scoring opportunities for his team from the start. His 6'8", 250-pound frame, combined with a wingspan of 7' 212", made him a difficult opponent for both guards and big players on the court. Walker's versatility shined through as well, as he not only played forward but also took on point guard duties when necessary. Although his jump shot consistency may be improved, Walker's ability to impact the game on both ends of the court was lauded by both coaches and teammates. His ability to make plays, along with his defensive instincts, bodes well for the Pacers' future.
Ben Sheppard is a player who leaves everything on the floor. His Summer League play highlighted his outstanding shooting abilities and defensive zeal. Sheppard, who stands 6'6" and weighs 190 pounds, drew the attention of both fans and coaches due to his energetic presence on both ends of the floor. Sheppard started all five Summer League games and showed off his scoring ability, shooting 41.7 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from beyond the arc. His enthusiastic contributions, whether diving for loose balls or collecting offensive rebounds, suited the Pacers' fast-paced style of play. While obtaining playing time in the NBA's competitive atmosphere will be difficult, Sheppard's work ethic and determination bode well for his development as a player. Coaches see his energy and effort as characteristics that can set him apart and greatly contribute to the team's success.
The Pacers have also signed two rookies to two-way contracts for the next season, Isaiah Wong and Oscar Tshiebwe. Both players gained crucial minutes during the Summer League, where they were able to demonstrate their abilities. Isaiah Wong's efforts, particularly in the final three games, emphasized his shooting talents and potential as a playmaker. The University of Miami guard's professional league role as a point guard involves an emphasis on improving his playmaking abilities, which he acknowledges as a learning area.
During the Summer League, Oscar Tshiebwe, the 2022 National Player of the Year, demonstrated his advanced rebounding ability. His 6'9", 260-pound bulk allowed him to dominate the boards, especially on the attacking end. While both Wong and Tshiebwe will most likely begin their NBA careers in the G League, their Summer League experiences offered them with great learning chances to help them polish their talents and contribute more effectively to the club.
The Pacers' rookie class showed promise and potential, leaving fans excited for their contributions once the regular season begins. The defensive brilliance and offensive variety of Jarace Walker, the enthusiastic style of Ben Sheppard, and the growth journeys of two-way players Isaiah Wong and Oscar Tshiebwe all bring depth and excitement to the Pacers' upcoming season. As these rookies continue to hone their skills, adjust to the NBA atmosphere, and collaborate with coaches, their Summer League performances provide a peek of what the future may bring. While the Summer League is only the beginning, the Indiana Pacers' rookie class is making a solid first impression that might lead to substantial contributions down the line.