Domantas Sabonis has been showing big-time potential with the Indiana Pacers over the last couple of seasons. He has been doing so in a sixth man role, but that is about to change this year. The Pacers are ready to go all in and will start Sabonis alongside fellow big man Myles Turner.
This is an opportunity that Sabonis could not be more excited to have, but it does come with a lot of question marks. Mainly, there are some who don’t think Sabonis has the quickness and defensive ability to play with opposing power forwards. It also leaves a major depth spot off the bench for Indiana, which rookie big man Goga Bitadze is hoping to fill.
Last season with the Pacers, Sabonis ended up averaging 14.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. He shot 59.0 percent from the field overall and knocked down 71.5 percent of his foul shots. Sabonis also ended up making nine of his 17 three-point attempts.
Indiana needs the pairing of Sabonis and Turner to work out. They love Sabonis, but have already paid big bucks to Turner. If things don’t work out, Indiana may be forced to move on from one of them.
What’s the next step for Sabonis with the Pacers?
What’s the next step for Sabonis?
Quite frankly, there are a few areas that Sabonis must improve in this season. The main area is on the defensive end of the court. Sabonis has to prove that he won’t be a liability in the starting lineup.
Nate McMillan and the Pacers have always prided themselves on their ability to defend the basketball. They have one of the best shot-blockers in the NBA in Turner. Thaddeus Young was an above average defender at power forward over the past few seasons, but he left for the Chicago Bulls in free agency.
Sabonis cannot afford to be a liability on defense. He has worked hard this offseason, but the question about his agility and ability to defend the four is something he has to prove.
Offensively, the Pacers need Sabonis to become a more effective mid-range and perimeter shooter. They love what he brings in the paint and his ability to facilitate from the paint, but if he can extend his range, defenses will have even more difficult defending him.
The next step for Sabonis is becoming a better defender and working on his shooting ability. If he can improve in those two areas, the Pacers are going to have one of the most dangerous front-court duos in the NBA. That duo might be able to help boost them towards a deep playoff run.
Can Sabonis work out alongside Turner?
With all of that being said, can the duo of Turner and Sabonis work for the Pacers? The easy answer is, yes they can.
Sabonis has an amazing work ethic and it will be on full display this season. He may not be a perfect fit at power forward, but he is going to be much better than what many are expecting. There are going to be some issues, of course, but his hard work this offseason will pay off.
Indiana is going to see a quicker version of Sabonis. His offense is going to be nice to have in the starting lineup and Turner won’t have added pressure. The Pacers are going to be a very entertaining team to watch.
Expect to see Sabonis thrive in the starting lineup this season. His numbers were great last season in 24.8 minutes per game and they will rise this season with an expanded role.