After enjoying a day of rest on Sunday, the Pacers went back to work on Monday to begin their second week of preseason camp and then left for Milwaukee following practice on Tuesday where they will face the Bucks in their first preseason game on Wednesday.
While there are plenty of new faces on the roster, Nate McMillan’s initial decisions regarding the playing rotation boils down to selecting a tenth man. With Glenn Robinson III still seven-ish weeks from returning due to a high-ankle sprain, McMillan expects to initially fill his spot on the second unit with Damien Wilkins, as Mark Montieth reported.
As for the rest of the rotation, the expected starters are: Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young and Myles Turner. Off the bench, expect to see Cory Joseph, Lance Stephenson, Domas Sabonis, T.J. Leaf and the aforementioned, Wilkins.
But as McMillan states in this report from Larra Overton, Lance and T.J. Leaf may also fill the gap at small forward in GR3’s absence. Alex Poythress was also mentioned as a candidate for those minutes, so with 10-12 players expected to play in Milwaukee, there should be ample opportunity for one of those guys to rise up and keep the reserve wing minutes warm for Robinson.
In better injury news, rookie Ike Anigbogu participated fully in practice for the first time. The promising (and really young) defensive-minded big man has folks at the Fieldhouse excited, but he’s still just 18 years old with plenty of game to develop so there will be no rush to feed Anigbogu into the rotation.
Considering the circumstances with Robinson’s injury, it remains puzzling that the Pacers would want to play Wilkins ahead of younger players like Leaf or more importantly Poythress. Leaf won’t make a living at small forward but Poythress could carve out a valuable role if given the opportunity.
Wilkins does not have a guaranteed contract and his presence in camp appeared to be more of an apprenticeship toward his next hoops phase as a coach or in the front office. The shape Wilkins and his game are in, allowing him to make it back to the NBA, is certainly admirable, but with a bigger blue and gold picture in mind, the fit doesn’t seem right.
The good part about the Pacers only playing four preseason games is that there isn’t a lot of time for tinkering around since they need to get the full playing rotation up to speed in a hurry. Of course, for this Pacers team with all of the new faces, that’s also the bad part of preseason this year. The Pacers could use the tinkering time.
Regardless, ready or not, let the preseason begin!