“I wanted to come in this year and put a stamp on what I’ve been doing my whole career in the NBA and even next year take the next big jump too,” Hield said. “Staying locked in. Credit to my teammates each and every day, getting me open and finding me in the right spots.”
Dopirak notes that Hield’s volume three-point shooting was his biggest attribute for a rebuilding Indiana club. His 288 made three-pointers in 2022/23 represented both a career best and the second-most in the league this year.
There’s more out of Indiana:
- Pacers power forward Jalen Smith had an uneven first full season with Indiana. He began the year as the team’s starting four, and was later moved to a reserve role before being benched altogether. After the club shut down starting center Myles Turner for the year, he played well upon being reintegrated into the team’s rotation. Smith spoke about his year, as Dopirak relays. “Every challenge and every obstacle helped me grow and helped me become a better person and better basketball player,” he said. “Nobody likes falling out of the rotation. Everybody wants to play basketball. That’s something we grew up loving. It’s tough as a young player still finding a place in the league and a niche and still trying to prove themselves. But everything happens for a reason. I take on challenges head on. It’s not going to deter my work ethic. It’s not going to deter my team aspect.”
- Pacers wing Aaron Nesmith was promoted to a role as the team’s small-ball starting power forward midway through the season, and responded well to the task. He reflected about how he hopes to develop during the offseason. “This summer as opposed to previous summers, I have more of a game-plan for my summer, things I have to get better at on and off the floor,” Nesmith said, according to Dopirak. “In the weight room, body wise stuff, on and off the court. Things I really want to hone in and be better at. … It’s having the minutes, figuring out what my role is here, how I can help the team and how I can expand on that role in a positive way.”
- Turner sounds relieved to have inked a new extension to remain in Indiana. He spoke with Pat Boylan of Bally Sports Indiana (Twitter video link) about his decision to stick around. “I’m so glad I was able to stay here, come to the city that fully embraced since I’ve been here,” Turner said. “I’m just hoping to build for years to come. … I’m at home, man.”
- Veteran reserve point guard George Hill once again has reiterated his own desire to return to the floor for Indiana next season, as he told Boylan in a separate interview (Twitter video link). “You never know what the future holds for you,” Hill said. “If this is my last game, I can say I went out putting the ball in the basket a couple of times. I would love the opportunity to come back with these fans and this team.” Hill, 36, is an unrestricted free agent. His ties to Indiana basketball may help convince the front office to bring him back for another run.
- The lottery-bound Pacers will have an intriguing offseason focused on building towards a brighter future. Bobby Marks of ESPN provided an in-depth guide to the team’s offseason (YouTube video link).