With Domantas Sabonis firmly back in the rotation after missing two games due to a right calf contusion, second-round draft pick Ike Anigbogu has been assigned to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Indiana Pacers announced Wednesday.
Though the league’s youngest player scored his first career points in the NBA against the Sacramento Kings, it was evident from Anigbogu’s pick-and-roll coverage in that contest that his athletic paint presence needs more opportunity to develop than sparse minutes in lopsided contests can provide — especially since garbage time hasn’t exactly been easy for the 19-year-old to come by.
In fact, over the seven games that Myles Turner was sidelined with a concussion, Anigbogu only logged 12 total minutes of action despite the fact that five of those contests were decided by 18 or more points.
Instead, when Al Jefferson’s mobility proved too costly against smaller lineups (i.e. Patrick Patterson, Kevin Love, etc.), McMillan opted to experiment with Thaddeus Young as stretch five in small bursts, which is something that was never broached last season in the playoffs when Cleveland’s spread lineups were laying waste to Kevin Seraphin’s lateral movement.
With the Mad Ants, Anigbogu will be only the second player taller than 6-foot-9 on the roster, which means he could potentially play a key role in what looks to become a testing ground for switch-everything lineups for the Pacers.
“Steve Gansy and Brian Levy and I were speaking the other day and we're bringing in a little bit different type of player,” Pritchard explained on media day, with regard to his team’s evolving relationship with their affiliate. “We're going to put a bunch of 6-foot-7, 6-foot-8 guys out there and with that, you can do a lot on defense. So we're still going through that process because we don't know exactly who's on the team but we feel there's an opportunity. We can experiment. We can do some unique things up there and then if it works, we can try to do it here.”
Fort Wayne will play host to the Delaware 87ers on Saturday, which is a night off for the Pacers.