The Indiana Pacers are looking strong during the early part of the new NBA season, but unfortunately, star forward T.J. Warren will be out for the foreseeable future with a stress fracture in his foot.
Warren is set to undergo surgery on his left foot soon, with the hopes of returning for the playoffs or thereabouts if the Pacers secure a berth in the Eastern Conference.
T.J. Warren injury: Indiana Pacers start will be without forward for multiple months
An official announcement on the Pacers’ website confirmed Warren’s injury status, specifying that his injury is a “small left navicular stress fracture.”
It just doesn’t seem like this Indiana core of players can manage to stay on the court at the same time. All-Star Victor Oladipo missed most of last season due to injury, and big man Domantas Sabonis also was out down the stretch leading into the playoffs.
Some of those circumstances actually set the stage for Warren to rise to further prominence in the NBA, though. The 27-year-old led the Pacers in scoring at 19.8 points per game in 2019-20, shooting 53.6% from the field and 40.3% from 3-point range.
What really put Warren on the map was his performance in the Orlando bubble. He came storming out of the gates as a versatile, unstoppable scoring machine, netting 53 points in a victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. He’d go on to put up three more 30-plus point performances in the next five seeding contests.
Now, Indiana must move forward without Warren and make it work with the players in place.
How will Indiana Pacers adjust to T.J. Warren injury?
The only solace most Pacers fans should take in this awful injury situation is that they’re accustomed to missing star players for long stretches. Oladipo is back and playing brilliantly in the early going of the 2020-21 campaign, while Sabonis is a legitimate double-double machine with outstanding passing ability who made his first All-Star team last season.
Between Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana not only has one of the most talented defensive backcourts in the NBA, but also multiple playmakers who can create off the dribble, manufacture their own shot and hit jumpers proficiently from beyond the arc. In other words, Indiana doesn’t lack for offensive firepower despite Warren’s prolonged absence.
Without Warren, though, it’s difficult to classify the Pacers as a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference. It’ll be a difficult situation to not rush him back, especially with the time crunch of a shortened 72-game season. However, if Warren is healthy and Indiana can manage to sneak into the playoffs without facing Milwaukee in the opening round, there’s a chance for this team to be a pesky postseason adversary.
Jeremy Lamb is still recovering from a torn ACL, so Indy is hurting for wing depth at the minute. It’ll take some creative rotation reshuffling for new head coach Nate Bjorkgren to find a good chemistry fit.
The presumption is that Justin Holiday will take on the majority of Warren’s minutes, while Doug McDermott also helps fill the void. McDermott scored 18 points and had nine rebounds in 25 minutes during the Pacers’ 119-99 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.