Indiana Pacers starting small forward: Bruce Brown
The Pacers signed Bruce Brown this offseason to a $45 million contract over two years, making him their highest paid player on the team for next season. After giving away that contract, he better be in the Pacers starting lineup.
Brown had a career year for the Nuggets last season, he averaged 11.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 steals on 48/36/76 shooting splits. In the postseason he averaged 12 points, 4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals on 51/32/86 shooting splits, en route to winning his first NBA title.
Brown is going to receive a much bigger role with the Pacers than he had everywhere else but, he is going to have just as big of an impact. Even though he's only 6-foot-4, Brown is so versatile where he can actually play all five positions given the scenario.
Over the course of his career Brown has gotten better in different aspects of the game. He became a much better scorer, playmaker, and shooter. It is great that he's bringing that to the Pacers but Brown has always been a great defender.
The Pacers finished 26th in defense and 19th in offense last season. Getting Bruce Brown will help the Pacers in both of those categories because he will die on every possession. Given that he has championship experience, he will be a great leader and mentor for the Pacers so all of their young players play smarter.
Primary backup small forward: Buddy Hield
Buddy Hield was mainly the starting small forward for the Pacers last season but after getting Bruce Brown, it has moved him to the bench. Last season he averaged 16.8 points, 5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.2 steals on 46/43/82 shooting splits.
Ever since Hield entered the league he has been known for his ability to shoot 3s. Last season 65 percent of his field goal attempts were 3-pointers and when you make 43 percent of them, it makes you a valuable player in the NBA.
The Bruce Brown signing puts Hield in a very weird position on the Pacers. He is better than a lot of players on the roster where he should start but, he doesn't exactly fit with the team's needs. Hield is turning 31 and the team is going younger, so there is a very good chance he is traded at some point during the season.
For now, Hield remains one of the best players on the Pacers and will continue to make a lot of 3-pointers for this team but don't be surprised if he is traded or bought out at some point during the season.
Others who could receive minutes: Aaron Nesmith and Jordan Nwora
If Buddy Hield is traded at some point during the season or someone gets hurt, Aaron Nesmith and Jordan Nwora could receive minutes this season. Nesmith played in 73 games last season and averaged 10.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists on 43/37/84 shooting splits. He is a solid 3-and-D option for the Pacers if anyone gets hurt.
Jordan Nwora was another player for the Pacers who played extremely well. He was picked up midseason and in 24 games he averaged 13 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists on 48/42/72 shooting splits. He has also shown potential to be a good defender so he could easily sneak his way into the rotation, especially if Hield is traded.