Andrew Nembhard

Pacers Notes: Hield, Mathurin, Backup Center, Nembhard, McConnell

The Pacers are in a difficult position trying to make a Buddy Hield trade so close to the start of the season, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. No progress has been reported since news broke last Wednesday that the team was working with Hield’s representatives to find a deal after the sides were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension.

Dopirak believes Indiana is justified in asking a high price for Hield, who is one of the league’s top three-point shooters. However, teams are reluctant to shake up their rosters this far into the offseason, especially for a player who has an expiring contract.

It’s also not clear what the Pacers will be seeking in return for Hield. Dopirak notes that the team saw a need after last season to upgrade at power forward and find defensive-minded wings, but that has already been addressed during the offseason. He states that they’ll need three-point shooting help if they part with Hield and may be looking for a younger, less expensive player who can do what he does.

There’s more on the Pacers, all courtesy of Dopirak:

  • Bennedict Mathurin has a chance to win a starting job, but only if he can improve his defense. Dopirak observes that the first-team All-Rookie selection struggled with that part of the game, particularly when he got an opportunity to start late in the season. The Pacers are hoping to see progress from Mathurin in camp and will need him to take on a larger role if Hield gets traded.
  • Daniel Theis‘ impressive showing in the World Cup gives him a strong case to be the primary backup center heading into camp. Dopirak notes that he’ll be competing for minutes with Isaiah Jackson and Jalen Smith, who are both younger and more athletic than the 31-year-old Theis. He adds that Jackson is the team’s best lob finisher and second-best shot blocker behind Myles Turner, while Smith was Indiana’s leader last season in rebounds per 48 minutes.
  • The Pacers’ improved roster could lead to several other changes, Dopirak adds. If Mathurin and free agent addition Bruce Brown are both starters, Andrew Nembhard could move from shooting guard to backup point guard, which is his more natural position. That could lead to a reduction in playing time for T.J. McConnell, who posted the best scoring average of his career last season.

Central Notes: Giannis, Nembhard, Toppin, Freeman-Liberty

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is included on the preliminary roster that Greece submitted this week for the FIBA World Cup, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Although it’s uncertain whether he’ll play, the move is an encouraging sign after Antetokounmpo underwent minor surgery on his left knee in June.

There have been concerns about Antetokounmpo’s condition in the wake of the operation, which was described as a clean-up procedure, and the back injury he suffered during Milwaukee’s first-round playoff series against Miami.

Vardon notes that Antetokounmpo has said that helping Greece capture a World Cup title is one of his professional goals. The two-time MVP is a frequent participant in international competitions, taking part in the World Cup four years ago and EuroBasket last summer.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Tyrese Haliburton only needed to watch Pacers teammate Andrew Nembhard play one game during Summer League to know he was too good for the competition, according to an Indianapolis Star story. “Y’all can send Andrew home,” Haliburton told president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard and general manager Chad Buchanan after watching Nembhard dominate the team’s first game in Las Vegas. “He don’t need to be here.” Although Nembhard appears ready for a larger role in his second NBA season, Indiana’s offseason moves may complicate that. The Pacers signed Bruce Brown and drafted Ben Sheppard, and coach Rick Carlisle may decide to promote Bennedict Mathurin to a starting job in the backcourt alongside Haliburton.
  • Obi Toppin never averaged more than 17.1 minutes per game during his three seasons with the Knicks, but he’s the Pacers‘ presumed starter at power forward, The Indianapolis Star adds in a projection of the team’s depth chart. Lottery pick Jarace Walker, who was impressive during Summer League, will probably be Toppin’s primary backup.
  • The Bulls were exploring ways to sign Javon Freeman-Liberty, who starred for them in Las Vegas, when he agreed to a two-way contract with the Raptors on Friday, agent Keith Glass tells K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Chicago filled its final two-way slot later in the day by reaching an agreement with Onuralp Bitim.

NBA Announces All-Rookie Teams

Rookie of the Year winner Paolo Banchero was a unanimous choice for the 2022/23 All-Rookie First Team, the NBA announced today (via Twitter).

Players receive two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote, and Banchero received the maximum possible 200 points.

Here’s the full five-man squad, listed in order of their total points received via voters:

The All-Rookie Second Team was announced as well, with a couple of teammates headlining the group (Twitter link).

In my opinion, the most surprising omission from the All-Rookie Second Team was Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard, who received 46 points. Nembhard was actually listed on one more ballot than Eason, but Eason received two First Team votes versus Nembhard’s zero, giving him a narrow edge.

That’s not to say Eason (or anyone else) was undeserving — he had a strong season as a tenacious offensive rebounder and defender. I just thought Nembhard should have been honored because he started the majority of the season for a competitive Indiana team and was frequently tasked with guarding the opposing teams’ best player, as Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files notes (via Twitter).

According to the NBA (Twitter link), others receiving votes included Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe (36), Hawks wing AJ Griffin (26), Nuggets forward Christian Braun, Thunder center Jaylin Williams (seven), Mavericks guard Jaden Hardy (four), Spurs guard Malaki Branham (three), Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (two), Hornets center Mark Williams (two) and Bucks wing MarJon Beauchamp (one).

In case you missed it, more NBA awards will be coming later this week. The All-Defensive teams will be announced on Tuesday, followed by All-NBA on Wednesday and the Teammate of the Year award on Thursday.

Pacers Notes: Carlisle, Draft, Nembhard, Nesmith, Mathurin

Head coach Rick Carlisle knows that for the Pacers to take a step forward in 2023/24, the team will have to hit on its draft picks. The Pacers control three first-round picks in 2023 — their own, Cleveland’s and Boston’s — as well as a couple second-rounders, though one is still up in the air.

If you look at the standings this year, this is the most parity we’ve seen in probably a number of decades,” Carlisle told Steve Bulpett of “So you’ve got to try to create as many situations as you can to get small edges. You’ve got to draft great. You know, our management team drafted (Andrew) Nembhard in the second round, and the guy’s a hell of a player. We’ve got to hit on more guys like that, and we’ve got to do the right things when we have those opportunities.”

Here’s more on the Pacers:

  • Carlisle says the Pacers will have to address the two main weaknesses of the roster — defense and rebounding — both internally and externally, according to Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter links). The current players need to improve, but the team will also look to bolster the roster in those areas via the draft, trades and free agency, Carlisle added.
  • Rookie guard Nembhard and third-year forward Aaron Nesmith have been bright spots defensively, as they’re frequently tasked with guarding opposing teams’ top perimeter players, Dopirak writes for The Indianapolis Star. How can they improve on the less glamorous end of the court? “Both of these guys are so, quite frankly, good defensively,” assistant coach and defensive coordinator Ronald Nored said. “Everybody has areas to improve, but there’s not a lot of area to improve for either one of them. I think both of them are quiet guys, and I think they can both take steps as communicators defensively. … That’s a challenge for both of them. Next season use their voice more.”
  • Indiana may have shut down Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner, but Bennedict Mathurin has actually seen his role expand as the season winds down and that’s by design, Dopirak writes in another story. “I’m getting used to what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my career,” Mathurin said. “Being a starter is one of my main goals, so it has to start somewhere, but it also comes with a lot of responsibilities and a lot of challenges as well, so I’m just trying to get used to it.” Carlisle has tasked Mathurin with more challenging defensive assignments and increased his minutes to push last year’s No. 6 overall pick, Dopirak notes.

Central Notes: G. Hill, McGruder, Pacers, Cavs, Bulls

Pacers guard George Hill was told when he was traded from Milwaukee to Indiana at last month’s deadline that he wouldn’t play much for his new team and that he’d be mostly counted on as a veteran leader, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. That was fine by Hill, who referred to himself as a “team-first guy” and is happy to be playing for his hometown club.

“(Pacers coach) Rick (Carlisle) has done a great job of being open and honest,” Hill said. “When I first got here, he said, you know, ‘We’re developing right now and we want our young guys to get some meaningful minutes, but it doesn’t mean you’re not going to play at all. I want you to still be a leader on and off the court. Show these guys what hard work and a good teammate is and just stay ready at all times.'”

Hill’s 15 years of NBA experience have made him an ideal mentor for All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton, who says the 36-year-old holds him accountable “every day.” Hill describes Haliburton as a “shining star” and has expressed a desire to continue backing him up beyond this season, if possible.

“Like I tell everybody, I don’t want to be here as a rental,” said Hill, who was born and raised in Indianapolis. “I would love to be here for a while and watch this thing grow to what I think it could be. I’m on board with whatever they need me to do and I’m all in.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Like Hill in Indiana, Pistons wing Rodney McGruder is on Detroit’s roster more for his locker-room presence than his production on the court. However, due to injuries, he has started the team’s last eight games and is playing a regular rotation role for the first time this season. James L. Edwards III of The Athletic explores McGruder’s on- and off-court contributions and digs into why he’s so respected by the Pistons’ young players.
  • The Pacers made history on Wednesday when they became the first NBA team to have three Canadian-born players (Bennedict Mathurin, Andrew Nembhard, and Oshae Brissett) in their starting lineup. And they did it in Canada, in a road game vs. the Raptors, as Dopirak writes for The Indianapolis Star. “Historic night for Canada basketball,” Carlisle said. “… For it to happen in Toronto, it’s pretty cool.”
  • Jamal Collier of ESPN explores the lessons the Cavaliers learned from last season’s second-half collapse and why the club is more confident in its chances of making some noise in the postseason this spring.
  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic identifies the seven members of the Bulls most impacted by Lonzo Ball‘s uncertain future. Mayberry’s picks range from center Nikola Vucevic, whose free agency decision this summer could be influenced by Ball’s long-term absence, to president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas, whose questionable roster decisions are increasingly under the microscope.

Central Notes: Pacers, R. Lopez, Merrill, Livers, Omoruyi

The Pacers‘ decision to hold Tyrese Haliburton (left knee bruise), Myles Turner (sore lower back), and T.J. McConnell (sore back) out of games on Saturday and Monday signaled that the team isn’t exactly going all-out for a spot in the play-in tournament, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star.

While Bennedict Mathurin‘s ankle sprain would have sidelined him in any situation, the other Pacers regulars who sat out those two contests in Detroit likely would’ve been active if Indiana was in win-now mode instead of focusing on player development. As Dopirak notes, the absences of the team’s regulars resulted in big minutes for young players like Andrew Nembhard, Aaron Nesmith, Oshae Brissett, Jalen Smith, Isaiah Jackson, and Jordan Nwora.

“It’s just valuable for our young guys to get this kind of experience,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. “Drew Nembhard needs this kind of work at the point position. He needs to play 35 minutes a game a few games playing the point position. He played 36 (on Monday). He did a lot of good things in both games. There’s a different rhythm to that position, a different flow.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Robin Lopez hasn’t had much of a role this season after signing with the Cavaliers as a free agent last summer, but his nine minutes in Sunday’s win over Charlotte with Jarrett Allen out were the most he has played in a game since January. Just trying to put some size out there,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff explained (Twitter link via Chris Fedor of “With Jarrett being out, we are limited with size. I thought RoLo was good, played hard. Everybody is going to be called upon.”
  • Within his story on the Cavaliers‘ new multiyear deal for Sam Merrill, Fedor notes that the club views the swingman as more than just a “one-dimensional” sharpshooter. “I think he was leading or near the top of the G League in taking charges, so he’s got a willingness to scrap, a willingness to help on the defensive end of the floor,” Bickerstaff said. “Can create shots and make shots.”
  • After being limited to 19 games as a rookie for health reasons, Pistons forward Isaiah Livers is trying to establish himself as part of the team’s future plans with his play this season. James L. Edwards III of The Athletic takes a look at how those efforts are going and explores the strides Livers is making in his second NBA season.
  • Eugene Omoruyi, who signed a second 10-day contract with the Pistons on Monday, is making a strong case to earn a rest-of-season deal once those 10 days are up, Edwards writes in another story for The Athletic. “I always say, a guy who has his Ph.D. — poor, hungry, driven — they’re going to make it in this league,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s hungry.”

Central Notes: Cunningham, Nembhard, Beverley, Love

Pistons guard Cade Cunningham has been sidelined since November 9 due to a leg injury and won’t return this season, but he has remained very involved on the sidelines and is evolving as a leader, even if he can’t actually take the court, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic.

“He’s using his voice more than ever, during games and talking before and after,” veteran Pistons guard Cory Joseph said. “Not only is he encouraging guys, but he’s also letting us know his thoughts, what he sees out there. It’s always different — and, of course, unfortunate — when you’re forced to take a step back and not play the game you love, but it is a different point of view. He’s keeping his mind engaged.”

“He’s the leader of this team, so anytime he has something to say, guys are all ears,” Pistons swingman Rodney McGruder said. “He brings us in all the time after huddles, before the game, talking on the bench, halftime. He’s pulling guys aside when he sees there’s a problem that needs to be fixed on the floor.”

As Edwards details, the Pistons’ coaching staff has made an effort to make sure that Cunningham feels connected to the team — his rehab and shooting work generally takes place right before or after practice, allowing the former No. 1 pick to observe his teammates’ work in those practice sessions. Despite his lost sophomore season, Cunningham is still considered the cornerstone of Detroit’s long-term future.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • In a Q&A with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, rookie guard Andrew Nembhard admits he felt as if he was a first-round talent in last year’s draft class, but says he wasn’t upset to land with the Pacers at No. 31. “It was a perfect situation in Indiana I fell into,” Nembhard said. “I don’t really feel no ill way towards it.”
  • While it remains to be seen what sort of impact new Bulls guard Patrick Beverley will have on the court or in the standings, he should bring a much-needed spark to an “increasingly listless” team that’s in “dire need” of veteran leadership, contends Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Beverley officially signed with Chicago on Tuesday.
  • It’s unfortunate that Kevin Love‘s tenure with the Cavaliers ended so unceremoniously, following a series of DNP-CDs, writes Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. As Lloyd details, the good far outweighed the bad during Love’s time with the franchise, and the five-time All-Star were always be revered in Cleveland for the role he played on the 2016 title team.

NBA Announces Player Pool For Rising Stars Event

The NBA officially unveiled the 28-player pool for this year’s Rising Stars event on Tuesday, making the announcement via the NBA App. The following players made the cut:



G League players:

As was the case last season, the Rising Stars event will consist of four teams and three games. The seven G League players will comprise one team, coached by longtime NBA guard Jason Terry. The other 21 players will be drafted to three squads coached by former NBA stars Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Deron Williams.

The four teams will be split into two first-round matchups and the winners of those two games will face one another for the Rising Stars championship. The two semifinals will be played to a target score of 40 points, while the final will be played to a target score of 25 points.

All three contests will take place on Friday, February 17 as part of All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City. The NBA’s full press release with more information on the event can be found right here.

Central Notes: Pistons, Bey, Turner, Nembhard, Allen

The Pistons have started big men Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley III alongside one another in the frontcourt in each of their last five games, with longtime starting forward Saddiq Bey moving to the bench as Bojan Bogdanovic holds onto his starting spot.

James L. Edwards III of The Athletic believes the two-big lineup will be one that the Pistons use for the foreseeable future, since it fits how they want to play — “bigger and more physically imposing,” as Edwards puts it. Detroit also envisions Stewart and rookie Jalen Duren as its long-term frontcourt of the future, Edwards adds, so it makes sense to get Stewart accustomed to playing next to another big man.

Bey had started 142 consecutive games for the Pistons before being demoted to the bench in the 15th game of the 2022/23 season. The third-year forward’s numbers have dipped this season – his 28.8% mark on three-pointers is by far a career worst – but he’s accepting his new role in stride, as Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscriber link) writes.

“It’s an opportunity to try and help the team win as much as possible,” Bey said. “Whatever role the team needs me to do, I’m ready to do. It’s me walking the walk. This is the role (head coach Dwane Casey) needs me to do to help us win and I’m just going to try and contribute as much as I can and just play hard.”

For what it’s worth, Casey said that he still looks at Bey “as a starter” even though he’s currently asking him to be the primary scoring option for that second unit.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • It’s still unclear whether or not Myles Turner has a future in Indiana beyond this season, but the Pacers center seems to be enjoying himself and is more consistently engaged than he ever has been in the past, according to Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required). “I’m having a great time,” Turner said. “My main focus is to come out and help this team win. I can sit and talk (about my future) in general all I want to, but that’s not what’s going to help this team win.”
  • In a separate article for The Indianapolis Star, Dopirak writes that Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard “desperately wanted” Andrew Nembhard in the 2022 draft despite his modest college numbers. Nembhard is making Pritchard look good so far, enjoying the best game of his young career on Monday when he racked up 31 points, 13 assists, and eight rebounds in a road win at Golden State. Head coach Rick Carlisle recently expressed a belief that the No. 31 pick will end up being a top-12 or top-15 player in this year’s draft class.
  • Spencer Davies of makes the case that center Jarrett Allen is the most crucial part of the Cavaliers‘ success, breaking down his impact on both ends of the court.

Central Notes: Diakite, Dosunmu, Williams, LaVine, Nembhard

With Dean Wade out three or four weeks with a shoulder injury, the Cavaliers started Mamadi Diakite against the Knicks on Sunday, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Diakite made one previous start this season as a fill-in for Jarrett Allen. The third-year big man out of Virginia, who went scoreless in 11 minutes, is on a two-way deal.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls coach Billy Donovan moved Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu to the second unit and Donovan believes it could facilitate their development, particularly the young power forward, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “This may actually help his development, putting him in some situations where he can be a little more aggressive. I still think the development part for him is in place,” Donovan said.
  • Despite the lineup changes, the Bulls aren’t going anywhere unless Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic do a better job of blending their talents, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. LaVine concurs with that assessment. “Coach got to make his decisions, but you know the best players on the team, we got to be the ones that make the plays,” LaVine said. “On bad days, take the criticism. Good days, make sure to help us win. Play defense. Make the shot. That’s what you do. That’s why you’re in position to do this. It’s a player-driven league. I think it always starts from top to bottom.”
  • Andrew Nembhard has been a solid presence at both ends for the Pacers during his rookie campaign, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files notes. The Pacers signed the first pick of the second round to a four-year deal that is fully guaranteed for three full seasons and $6.4MM, a record amount for a second-rounder coming out of college. Nembhard, who hit a game-winning 3-pointer against the Lakers, is averaging 7.4 PPG and 3.4 APG in 21.9 MPG.
  • Pacers star guard Tyrese Haliburton missed Sunday’s game due to a sore groin, Agness tweets. It’s the first game he missed since being acquired from Sacramento last season.