Apparently the third-string point guard battle from training camp, which saw Keifer Sykes waived in favor of Brad Wanamaker, wasn’t quite over yet, as the Pacers have now reversed course, releasing Wanamaker in favor of Sykes, who currently leads the G League in assists per game (8.0) while shooting 35 percent from deep.
Roster Update: We have waived Brad Wanamaker and signed Keifer Sykes.https://t.co/bQd8UmSaQc— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) December 27, 2021
Despite missing time due to an ankle injury and underwhelming while committing several errors during the team’s preseason finale, the small but mighty guard played a valuable role for the Pacers in Las Vegas, allowing Chris Duarte to play on ball as well as off. For the week, Sykes’ per game numbers didn’t exactly jump off the page (8.0 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists while shooting 54 percent overall and 43 percent from three), but he was +84 in 110 minutes of action. Given that the Pacers currently rank dead-last in three-point percentage for the month of December and have lacked in organization without Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. McConnell, there’s probably no harm in making a change.
After all, this is a possession that exists.
Someone should diagram this on FastModel. pic.twitter.com/YAkQdseIj4— Caitlin Cooper (@C2_Cooper) December 16, 2021
And so did a lineup featuring Wanamaker, Oshae Brissett, Torrey Craig, Myles Turner, and Duane Washington Jr., with arguably the least amount of playmaking possible, during Sunday’s 113-105 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Sykes, 6-foot-0, gives up size defensively and around the rim, but if he can somewhat reliably get the ball to where it needs to go without oscillating between kamikaze drives and treating the paint like lava, as was so often the case for his predecessor, than perhaps Duarte will be able to function more often and naturally from the second side of the floor and groups without one of LeVert or Sabonis will appear slightly less scattered.
Overall, while Sykes shouldn’t be expected to replace what the team is missing without Brogdon and McConnell, he also would be hard pressed to be a downgrade over that which the Pacers have been attempting to make do.