The Indiana Pacers have been decimated by injuries during the early part of the season, but T.J. McConnell has been a saving grace for the team’s bench
The Indiana Pacers have been decimated by injuries during the early part of the season. The team knew that they would be going into the season without All-Star shooting guard Victor Oladipo, but no one knew what was going to happen once the season started.
Starting center Myles Turner has missed seven straight games with an ankle injury. The starting shooting guard, Jeremy Lamb, has missed six games with an ankle injury. Rookie center Goga Bitadze has had to sit out multiple games, first with an ankle injury and then with a concussion. Power forward Domantas Sabonis missed two games with a calf injury.
Finally, shooting guard Edmond Sumner has missed eight games with a fractured hand. All of these injuries have led the Pacers to the next man up mentality.
If there is one player who has taken that mentality to heart it is T.J. McConnell. A name which I did not think I would type very often this season. Even a name that I hoped not to type a lot this season. But here we are eleven games into the season and McConnell might be the most important player coming off of the bench for the Pacers.
The man who was signed to be the third-string point guard has been doing everything right for the Blue and Gold. On the season, he is averaging 6.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. Over the last three games, he has put the gas pedal all the way to the floor though.
During this span, he is averaging 11.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 6.6 assists. He has 20 assists and only four turnovers during these games. That is a 5:1 assist to turnover ratio. Not something you would expect from the third-string point guard.
He is also bringing much-needed energy to a bench that seemed to have none when the season started. He is developing good chemistry with different players, especially 3-point threat Doug McDermott. This chemistry was something the Pacers’ bench was never able to come up with last year.
The Pacers have needed someone to step-up and McConnell has done just that. It is a long season, but McConnell has played well when asked to step in. Do not be surprised if you see a year-long battle for the backup point guard position between McConnell and Aaron Holiday.
Long story short, so far this season there has been no man coming off the bench more important than T.J. McConnell.