After signing 24-year-old forward Jarrod Uthoff to the team’s fifth one-year, non-guaranteed deal, Indiana’s training camp is set to open with the maximum of 20 players, but two roster spots will still be up for grabs.
“I want to see who proves themself on the court,” Kevin Pritchard told reporters at media day. “If you come out here, you work hard in the summer and prove you can belong, then we have two open roster spots. We can be flexible with that, if a guy catches our eye and is a Pacer with Pacers ethos--we're in.”
Before being called up by the Dallas Mavericks last season, Uthoff shot an impressive 50 percent from three (1.8 attempts) while averaging 9.1 rebounds over 11 games with the Mad Ants.
“I’m not ready to say that,” Pritchard responded when asked if the versatile 6-foot-9 stretch four along with 6-foot-8 point forward Ben Moore would be bound for Fort Wayne. “They’ve had a really good time here.”
Moore only averaged 3.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in five games with Indiana’s summer league team in Orlando, and he certainly isn’t going to spread the floor to the degree of Uthoff, given that he only attempted five total threes over the entirety of his four-year collegiate career. Still, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor pegged the senior out of Southern Methodist University as having the makings of a successful undrafted player due to his passing ability and stout defense.
“He's really impressed everybody in this gym,” Pritchard said of Moore. “We think he can be an NBA player, NBA defender first and then if he can improve his shooting he can be a Bruce Bowen-type.”
In that regard, it’s intriguing to consider the still-developing Swiss army knife as a low-risk foil to the more one-dimensional sharpshooting of Bojan Bogdanovic. Insomuch as the latter is representative of a much-needed space-creating stop-release, the former could perhaps better facilitate switch-everything lineups and thereby generate pace in small bursts.
As O’Connor points out, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston didn’t “come into the league as quality outside shooters, but they could defend, rebound, pass, and make the right play.”
Unfair comparisons aside, Moore’s sort of defensive versatility is clearly something the Pacers are interested in test driving, regardless.
“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 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.”
Moore may be more Solomon Hill than Bruce Bowen, or he may not even make the roster. Evens so, with lowered expectations in the absence of a treasure trove of picks and prospects, juicing training camp or potentially modernizing how they defend from afar is the worst possible outcome of the Pacers evaluating young talent with which they could possibly buy low.
“I want guys out there knowing that they can make the team if they impress us,” Pritchard said. “We're wide open on those last two.”