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Column: Pacers preseason games bring out the highlights and Domantas Sabonis shines

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On this week’s column Adam discusses Aaron Holiday, Edmond Sumner and the Sabonis-Turner pairing.

NBA: Preseason-Indiana Pacers at Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets guard Michael Carter-Williams (1) dribbles the ball as Indiana Pacers guard Edmond Sumner (5) defends during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Credit: Troy Taormina
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Two non-consequential games in and the Pacers look poised to continue where they left off. Their starters, minus Thaddeus Young, only played in one game and none of them played more than 25 mins. During this small sample size there were no signs of players being out of shape. More importantly, there doesn’t seem to be any fraying in the chemistry.

There isn’t a ton to read into after both preseason games so instead I just wanted to talk about some of the best highlights from Edmond Sumner and Aaron Holiday.

Sumner was impressive in the first game, putting up 13 points on 6-8 shooting from the field. Those stats don’t really mean anything but his athleticism does, especially with him tearing his ACL two years ago. These were some of his best plays from both games.

Edmond Sumner Highlight show

Holiday didn’t do much in his first preseason game but in game two against Memphis he showed his potential by knocking down contested threes. There is a caveat since he mainly only played against other bench players but I think he -- at minimum -- showed he belonged in the NBA, which from a rookie is always nice ( look back to T.J. Leaf last year to see the opposite).

Aaron Holiday highlights

Now let’s move on to the mailbag. To submit a question click here.

When will Aaron Holiday start playing a major role in our offense? -Rick, Pittsburgh

2019.

I could definitely see Holiday playing minutes this year and contributing in a little role off the bench, especially if he can consistently knock down his three point shot. But of the last five Pacer first one round picks, only Myles Turner played more than eight minutes per game in his rookie year.

Taking Holiday’s draft position into consideration, it’s rare for players picked in the late 20’s to even start a game in their rookie season. The Pacers also have three points guards (Darren Collison, Cory Joseph and Tyreke Evans). I expect Holiday to have more of an offensive impact with the Mad Ants than the Pacers this season.

What will a successful Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis pairing look like? Is there any precedent in the recent NBA for having 2 young, potentially all-star level big men work out in the long run? Sam - Chicago, IL

The most recent history of two all-star centers playing together -- and working -- was Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins for the Pelicans last season. Combined, the two averaged 53.3 points, 24 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game. But unfortunately because of Cousins’ injury the two never played more than 48 games together.

The other pairing that comes to mind is the Spurs’ pairing of David Robinson and Tim Duncan from 1999-2003, where they won two championships together. But neither Sabonis or Turner is as good as any of these four players (at least right now).

For the pairing to work as well as the latter two did both Turner and Sabonis have to become better one-on-one defenders. Most teams will bring in five shooters when those guys are on the court and the only way for them to not get out-scored is to be both serviceable on defense and to dominate the boards.

On the offensive end of the floor it can work, but neither Turner and Sabonis are number one options, meaning their positive offensive impacts may never outweigh their defensive deficiencies. Instead they might have to rely on Victor Oladipo or Tyreke Evans a considerable amount to be good enough on offense to allow them to stay on the floor together.