T.J Warren put together a big season in 2018-19 for the Phoenix Suns, but went unnoticed due to playing for a bad team. Now, the stage has been set for him this season after being acquired on draft night by the Indiana Pacers.
This is the first real opportunity that Warren will have to compete for a playoff spot. Phoenix was never able to offer him that opportunity, but the Pacers have consistently made the playoffs. Victor Oladipo won’t play until at least December, but Indiana has a lot of talent outside of him.
Last season with the Suns, Warren ended up averaging 18.0 points per game to go along with 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists. He shot 48.6 percent from the field overall and knocked down 42.8 percent of his three-point attempts. Warren played a lot of power forward minutes for the Suns, but the Pacers are going to utilize him as their starting small forward.
Defensively, Warren has a lot of work to do. He has the athletic ability to become a solid defender, but there were times where his effort was questioned.
All of that being said, there are three things that Warren must prove this season with the Pacers. Let’s dive in and take a look at them.
3. That He Isn’t Just a Good Player on a Bad Team
This is the concern with quite a few players that perform well on bad teams. Many of those players end up struggling when they are finally placed on a good team. Indiana is the good team, while Warren is the player in question.
The numbers that Warren put up last season put him on the map for teams looking to acquire a scorer. Indiana desperately needs him to prove that he can put up those numbers again with Victor Oladipo set to miss a portion of the season. Warren can prove himself to be a capable big-time role player by replicating the success that he found last year.
2. His Defense Is Capable of Improving
Warren has shown major improvement in his offensive game over the years, but now it’s time for him to round out his game. Becoming a two-way player makes a player much more valuable, and that is the one area that Warren has to prove he can improve.
Nate McMillan and the Pacers pride themselves on playing tough defense. If Warren doesn’t improve, he is going to be a weak link. Bojan Bogdanovic wasn’t the best defender, but he was serviceable, and Warren has to find a way to step into the role left by him.
1. His Three-Point Shooting Is Legitimate
Last season, Warren made a massive jump from shooting 22.2 percent from the three-point line to 42.6 percent. Those numbers have been called into question by some that don’t think he can repeat his shooting performance.
Bogdanovic was one of the league’s top three-point threats and losing him is going to hurt. Warren shooting around 40 percent would be a huge way to help fix that void. If he can shoot a similar percentage from the three-point line, the Pacers are going to be a very solid offensive team.