T.J. Warren has been an incredibly underrated NBA player over the past couple of seasons. While part of that has to do with playing for the Phoenix Suns, another part of it is due to the fact that he goes about his business without making any kind of ripple or drawing attention to himself.
Now, Warren is in the news due to being acquired via trade by the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers made the deal to get Warren on draft day, absorbing him into cap space along with the No. 32 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. As a whole, Indiana ended up getting Warren and three second-round picks for free.
Last season with the Suns, Warren had a career season. He averaged 18.0 points per game to go along with 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists. Warren also shot 48.6 percent from the field overall and knocked down an impressive 42.8 percent of his three-point attempts.
At 25 years old, Warren is entering the prime of his career and the Pacers could not be more excited to have him. Let’s dive in and take a look at what the fans and franchise should be expecting from their new forward.
First of all, Warren is going to start the season as the starting small forward. He will likely keep that role all year long, assuming he stays healthy. Replacing Bojan Bogdanovic isn’t going to be easy, but the Pacers feel confident that Warren is ready for the task.
Scoring was the main priority for the Pacers in free agency. After struggling to put the ball in the basket without Victor Oladipo on the court, general manager Kevin Pritchard knew he needed to make some big moves. One thing that Warren does is score the ball at will.
He can take opponents off the dribble, finish from the mid-range, and displayed a much-improved ability to knock down the three-ball last season. If he can shoot at the level that he did with the Suns in 2018-19, the Pacers are going to have a guy that can easily average 14-17 points per game this year.
Warren struggles at times on the defensive end of the court, but he has the athleticism to improve in that area. Dan Burke, the Pacers’ defensive coordinator, will be tasked with helping Warren take the next step defensively. Becoming a two-way threat would be a huge leap forward for Warren.
From a three-point shooting perspective, Indiana lost one of the best in the league when Bogdanovic signed a four-year deal with the Utah Jazz. Warren shot just under 43 percent from three-point range last season, but there are many that don’t think he can repeat that performance. It’s time for him to prove those doubters wrong.
While he is going to start at small forward, Indiana views him as a solid power forward in small-ball lineups. If the Pacers have to go small, Warren will slot in nicely alongside either Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis.
Oladipo is expected to return to the court at some point in December or January at this point in time. Once he does return to the court, Warren is exactly the kind of guy who can take major pressure off of the star shooting guard. He can create his own shot and create for others, which will give Oladipo a chance to ease back into the game.
Add in that Warren is on a team-friendly contract and this fit is ideal for both parties.
Indiana may have gotten the steal of the offseason with Warren. Being able to get him without giving anything up in return isn’t something the team was expecting. He may not be a star, but he is the kind of supporting piece that can help take a team from being good to being a contender.
Expect to see Warren put together a big season and to make the deal look like a huge win for Pritchard and the Pacers.