It’s been years since the three-point revolution in the NBA began, much to the chagrin of the basketball purists – most of them, at least. There’s a sudden rise in on-court value among players who can shoot and stretch the floor, which, of course, is accompanied by a drop in on-court value among those who couldn’t, mostly big men.
Don’t get it wrong. Bigs who are good enough can still get minutes even if he can’t shoot a jumper to save his life. It’s just that they are few and far between. Indiana Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis is in that short list, and he’s continuing to boost his stock.
The one-time All-Star, who should earn his second selection this season, is steadily climbing the ranks of the top big men in the league. He’s been quite the surprise ever since coming over in that Paul George trade in 2017, and has consistently improved his inside presence at every step. Once regarded as a decent-at-best utility forward, he has now established himself as his team’s go-to weapon, certainly not too shabby for someone who was thought of as a mere throw-in in that trade.
What’s also commendable is how he has stepped up to fill the gap left by the injury of TJ Warren, as well as the ever-improving partnership with the team’s floor general, Malcolm Brogdon.
In 29 games this season, Sabonis is tallying all-around numbers 21.5 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game on an efficient 52.8% percent shooting. In between ALL that are 23 double-doubles and three triple-doubles thus far, with the latest being a record-setting stat line.
Sabonis is still behind elite scoring big men Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetkounmpo, and Nikola Jokic, but he’s definitely alongside Bam Adebayo and Nikola Vucevic in the next tier. Also, there’s no denying that he’s arguably the best and/or most efficient passer among all of them.
The Pacers currently hold a 15-14 record on the season and they rank fourth in the Eastern Conference standings. Though it’s been a hot-and-cold campaign, they are 3-1 in their last four games and are looking confident with all the growing momentum and Sabonis co-powering the charge.
Let’s see how Sabonis will further his All-Star play against a row of good challenges over the next couple of days.
The Pacers will take on the Golden State Warriors next. They’ll meet this Thursday, February 25th, at 8:30 AM, Manila time.