The Indiana Pacers are heading into the playoffs with a six-game winning streak that has them back in top spot of the Eastern Conference. The team is doing it without their starting point guard, who suffered an injury during training camp. Their other star player, Victor Oladipo, stepped up to fill his role and helped lead them to victory after victory until they finally fell two weeks ago. Now Chris Duarte comes off the bench for this final stretch run before reaching his first NBA Finals.
The “indiana pacers players” is a story that Chris Duarte, the shooting stroke of the Indiana Pacers, experienced. This story will help the Pacers back to top of the Eastern Conference.
Note: This is the third installment in a five-part series on how five different rookies may win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
Northwest Florida State was where Chris Duarte began his collegiate basketball career. He transferred to Oregon for his last two seasons before being picked by the Indiana Pacers with the 13th overall choice in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Like many NBA lottery choices, he wasn’t a 5-star prospect coming out of high school. He wasn’t going to be a one-and-done player. He lacks Cade Cunningham’s, Jalen Green’s, or Jalen Suggs’ pedigree.
Duarte adds experience, size, athleticism, defense, and shooting to the NBA. Those characteristics indicate to his becoming a long-term NBA player.
He may not be the most showy candidate for Debut of the Year, but there’s a high possibility his talents will transfer to the league right away in his rookie season, making him an underappreciated candidate.
Chris Duarte was selected 13th overall by the Indiana Pacers.
Indiana Pacers rookie Chris Duarte takes a shot against the Memphis Grizzlies. | Getty Images/Andy Lyons
In Eugene, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard played two seasons. He started every game for the Ducks during his senior season, leading them to the Pac-12 Conference Championship and a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
In 2020-21, Duarte averaged 17.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.9 blocks on 53.2/42.4/81.0 shooting splits.
He was awarded to the Pac-12 All-Defense First Team and First-Team All-Pac-12 First-Team.
He also took up the Jerry West Award for best shooting guard in the league.
In the 2021 NCAA Tournament, Oregon made it to the Sweet 16. Duarte scored 23 points and contributed seven assists in a second-round upset of second-seeded Iowa. He recorded 21 points, six assists, and five rebounds in the Ducks’ defeat against USC.
Rookie of the Year Case of Duarte: Shooting and Maturity
The argument for the lanky shooting guard hinges on his exceptional shooting ability. Duarte is a fantastic spot-up shooter, but he can also run off screens, relocate, and hit jumpers while on the move. He won’t blow anybody away with his shot creation, but he’s long enough and has a strong enough stroke to make shots off the dribble.
In traffic, his 6-6 stature and intelligence enable him to weave around the paint and finish near the hoop.
Last year’s Pac-12 steals leader does have some deceptive athleticism, and combined with his length, he was one of the finest defenders in college basketball. With the way he analyzes and snuffs out throws, he’s almost like an NFL defensive back – that’s how he averaged nearly two thefts per game in college last year.
Duarte has the potential to be a good, reliable NBA role player with excellent shooting talent.
The 23-year-age, old’s dubious potential, and playmaking abilities are all strikes against him. However, on an Indiana team that is virtually always a postseason contender, those flaws will be overlooked.
What would Duarte’s Rookie of the Year campaign entail?
Chris Duarte wowed the crowd one again tonight. The #Pacers have a good one on their hands. He has the ability to shoot, defend, get to the basket, and create on and off the ball, and he plays with a confidence that is much above that of a rookie. This youngster is going to be a force to be reckoned with. #NBA
— Evan Massey (@massey evan) on the 14th of October, 2021
Duarte will play a significant number of minutes in 2021-22 as a result of his experience, IQ, and skill set.
Justin Holiday is a comparable player, having appeared in 72 games last season and averaging 10.5 points on 38.2 percent three-point shooting. The Pacers’ Malcolm Brogdon is also a reliable starter. The dynamic guard averaged 21.2 points and almost six assists per game while shooting 38.8% from three-point range.
Early in the season, injuries decimated the rest of Indiana’s guard rotation, giving Duarte an opportunity.
Caris LeVert, the team’s starting shooting guard and main offensive player, will be out for the first several games. During his stint in the league, he has also had a long list of injuries. Brogdon, Holiday, and TJ Warren, the team’s leading scorer, will all be out at the start of the season.
For the time being, Duarte remains one of the better (and healthiest) shooting guard alternatives. For at least the first couple weeks, he should be on the floor a lot, enabling incoming Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle to assess what the youngster has to offer.
During the exhibition season, Duarte played the second-most minutes on the squad and led the team in scoring with 13.8 points per game.
Duarte’s Rookie of the Year season wouldn’t have to be flamboyant or explosive — he’s comparable to Brogdon in that he earned the honor as a second-round selection with the Milwaukee Bucks. Around 15 points per game, along with solid 3-point shooting stats, which the former Duck has shown he is capable of, will put him in the mix.
Duarte isn’t going to be dazzling. Cunningham and Green will have the highlight-reel plays, but he won’t. Despite the NBA’s aversion to older players, he’s in a great position to contribute to the team’s success and show off the qualities that earned him a lottery choice.
Cade Cunningham’s Defense
Jalen Green’s Argument
The Case of James Bouknight (Monday)
The Case of Josh Giddey (Tuesday)
Sports Reference provided all statistics.
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