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The new bench should be better than the last

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Replacing Lance Stephenson and Glenn Robinson with Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott should improve Indiana’s bench.

NBA: New York Knicks at Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans (12) handles the ball against New York Knicks forward Doug McDermott (20) during the first half at FedExForum. Credit: Justin Ford
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

With just three simple moves the Pacers improved one of the league’s worst bench units into one of the best. They posted a -2.6 net rating last season, the 17th best rating in the league.

At first glance its not terrible, but the Pacers’ net rating was 1.5 points lower than the 16th-best Pelicans. If you look at the list of 10-20th ranked bench units in the NBA year the Pacers are a lot closer to 20th than they are 16th.

Based on all the offseason moves Kevin Pritchard made, it seems obvious that the singular goal was to increase the Pacers’ depth. Outside of Kyle O’Quinn, the Pacers signed bench players Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott, both of whom play a similar style to the players in front of them on the depth chart.

McDermott and Bojan Bogdanovic both shot above 40 percent from three last year. They’re both essentially interchangeable in any lineup because they both play a similar offensive role: spread the floor, hit threes in transition and use off-ball screens to get open.

McDermott’s biggest flaw will be whether he can play in lineups with Bogdanovic if Indiana goes small and puts either player at power forward playing stretch-four. Both players are sub-par defensively and despite the added offense, they would be too much of a liability.

But in small stretches with the bench unit that could work. McDermott is essentially replacing a combination of Lance Stephenson and Glen Robinson III on the bench.

Evans is replacing a combination of the Stephenson and Cory Joseph’s minutes. Joseph had to play at shooting guard when Robinson was hurt.

Also, Evans is similar to Victor Oladipo because he can create offense on his own, knock down three-pointers and finish with contact around the rim.

Evans will be even more valuable because he can play next to Oladipo as a combo guard or even in small lineups as a small forward. He shot 40 percent from three which is 11 percent higher than Stephenson.

In lineups with Oladipo, Bogdanovic, Darren Collison and Myles Turner the Pacers have five quality three-point shooter. Three of the five shot 40 percent or better from three in 2017-18 and the other two, Oladipo and Turner, provide a different type of offensive threat that could make these lineups effective.

The last player the Pacers signed was O’Quinn. For the $4.49 million room exception he’s a solid pickup because he adds depth to Indiana’s center position. Last season centers Domantas Sabonis and Turner missed eight and 17 games, respectively. O’Quinn can also fill the now-vacant roles of Al Jefferson and Trevor Booker.

Booker played situationally and Jefferson only in case of emergency. O’Quinn won’t get a ton of minutes unless he’s filling in for a major injury.

O’Quinn is younger and a better passer than both Booker and Jefferson. He’s also a decent rebounder, having posted higher rebouding rates at 18.8 percent than Sabonis (17.8), Turner (12.8) or Booker (16.8) did last season.