Tim Warner | Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS – In a way, what the Pacers are getting in T.J. Warren is the opposite of what Thaddeus Young gave them over the last three years.
When talking about Warren’s strengths, you have a gifted scorer, who can fill it up in a variety of ways, including showing off a three-point shot last year north of 40 percent.
When talking about Warren’s weaknesses, you point to health issues and not having a prowess on the defensive end of the floor, or in the rebounding department.
But the Pacers have stated time and time again that they wanted to improve their offensive playmaking this offseason.
That is why they were so attracted to Warren.
“He’s a unique scorer, in that he can post up, he can make plays off the bounce and he’s really improved his shooting,” Kevin Pritchard says of Warren.
“He’s a really polished scorer and we are happy to have him.”
Since his college days at North Carolina State, the 6-8 Warren has shown a knack for scoring inside the arc. But establishing himself as a long-distance shooter was not part of his game until last season.
After struggling from behind the arc in his first four seasons with Phoenix (28.3 percent from three), Warren connected on 43 percent of his threes last year, on 4.2 attempts per game.
In Indiana, Warren is likely to be the starting small forward until Victor Oladipo returns. Once Oladipo does get back to full health, the Pacers could keep Warren at small forward, or put him at the 4 in smaller lineups.
“You look at T.J. and what he can do, you can put a 3 on him, and he’s a strong matchup in the post against 3s,” Pritchard says. “On the perimeter, he creates a lot of matchups. We really feel like he’s going to be able to step in there, give us offensive firepower at both the 3 and the 4.”
Warren has a career scoring average of 14.4 points per game and 4.1 rebounds.
Something Warren has not come close to experiencing in his five NBA seasons is playoff basketball.
Phoenix was under .500 in all 5 of Warren’s years in the league, including winning less than 25 games in each of the last 4 seasons.
If Warren, 25, can maintain such a scoring punch on a better team, he should very well get a chance to take part in the postseason.
“I feel like every day matters here,” the forward says. “Every day is taken seriously. And I’m ready to contribute too that.
“It makes me feel great.”
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