Say there, folks—do the summer blahs have you feeling down? Did you catch a stray bullet in the clavicle at the dog park today, for freedom? Have heat poisoning in your lungs, perhaps? Well turn those rescinded Constitutional rights upside down, because it’s time again for Indiana’s newest and favorite-est July tradition: watching insignificant NBA Summer League games in an attempt to numb the hopelessness and rage, briefly!! The Pacers’ first game tips off tonight at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.
So what should Pacers fans be on the lookout for (you know, aside from the increasing threat of domestic terrorism, obviously, or the coming Water Wars)? Which Summer League plotlines might provide fleeting moments of distraction from our dystopian reality? Let’s dig in and find out!
BENNEDICT MATHURIN. The Pacers’ highest draft pick since 1988 makes his debut tonight in Las Vegas, and certainly all eyes will be him. Will his unique mix of strength and explosiveness translate to the NBA game? As the sixth overall pick, it had BETTER! This is important! Not as important as six SCOTUS justices recently deciding that an inanimate rifle is far more important than a human woman as America slides further into a 19th-century Christian nationalist oligarchy, but still. Mathurin’s perimeter shooting could really open up the spacing of the Pacers’ offense!
THE YOUTH BRIGADE. In addition to Mathurin, the Pacers are bringing last year’s first two picks—Chris Duarte and Isaiah Jackson—to Las Vegas as well. These three (along with Jalen Smith and Tyrese Haliburton) represent a vast reservoir of young talent and potential, FAR deeper than, say, the reservoir that fuels the bright lights of Las Vegas itself: Lake Mead. Decades-long mega droughts have brought the water down to its lowest level since the lake was filled in 1936, possibly preventing the Hoover Dam’s turbines from generating power in the very near future. Let’s hope we see the intriguing Duarte/Jackson/Mathurin group get some minutes together before the power grid for the western United States goes offline for good. Fingers crossed!!
NEW (TEMPORARY) HEAD COACH. Pacers assistant coach Ronald Nored will be taking over the coaching reins for the week, which will no doubt stir up nostalgic emotions for Butler fans. Remember how ferocious Nored was defensively on those back-to-back NCAA Championship Game teams? Remember him getting his teeth knocked out against Detroit Mercy?! Remember when trying to overthrow the United States government would be universally frowned upon by Americans? Time marches on, I suppose, like sands through the makeshift guillotine. Go get ’em, Coach Nored! We’re rooting for you.
NO MALCOLM BROGDON. The Pacers traded the 6’5” orthopedic walking boot last month to the Celtics, for various office supplies and a favor. Not that “WebMB” would have played in these games anyway. (He would have been sidelined with turf groin or some such before publicly accusing Coach Nored of being a Russian asset.) The point is, this is Haliburton’s team now, which is GREAT! What’s not so great is that getting murdered in the face with a gun is now the leading cause of death for kids in this country. But there’s an easy solution to the massacres, according to those who profit financially from the sale of guns, as well as to the various legislative bodies they’ve purchased: Sell MORE guns to MORE people. (The “profit financially” thing is just a coincidence, I think, and not to be considered.) Be that as it may, Brogdon’s departure is addition by subtraction. Look for multiple Pacers to thrive in his absence.
So there it is, your incomplete guide to the Pacers’ Summer League team. Pointless basketball in July is not a fix to what ails us as a society, and it hardly soothes the worried soul—but at least it’s not actively trying to kill us physically or financially, which is a goddamn blessing in 2022. The Pacers remaining schedule is as follows:
Sunday, July 10 vs. Sacramento—3 p.m. (ESPN)
Tuesday, July 12 vs. Detroit—9 p.m. (NBA TV)
Friday, July 15 vs. Washington—9 p.m. (ESPN2)