Andrew Nembhard is proving to be quite the draft night steal for the Indiana Pacers, who conclude a seven-game road trip on Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The 6-foot-5 point guard continues to exceed expectations after being selected with the first pick of the 2022 NBA Draft’s second round.
Nembhard turned in the best performance of his young career on Monday, when he scored a season-high 31 points and added 13 assists and eight rebounds to lead the short-handed Pacers to a 112-104 victory over the Golden State Warriors.
“Nembhard, in particular, was just getting anywhere he wanted in the lane, and you saw his patience,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “He threw some brilliant passes, lob passes, drop passes and then when we tried to cover up the paint, he was out there knocking down 3s.”
Nembhard is averaging 15.6 points and 7.2 assists while shooting 53.4 percent from the floor and 46.4 percent from 3-point range over his past five games.
“I’ve been saying that down the line when Hoops Hype does their re-draft of the 2022 draft, he’d be a top-15 pick,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said of Nembhard. “I’m elevating that to top 10. He really is a special player. Our basketball people just hit it out of the park with him. This guy has got amazing poise. He’s strong. He’s old school but new school. He’s special.”
Indiana snapped a three-game losing streak with the unlikely win over Golden State despite missing six players, including Tyrese Haliburton (left groin), Myles Turner (sore right hamstring) and Chris Duarte (left ankle sprain).
Nembhard could be asked to carry another heavy workload against Minnesota, which has lost four of its last five games.
The Wolves have had three days to regroup following a 135-128 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday. The game featured eight technical fouls, including five on Minnesota.
Center Rudy Gobert was ejected early in the contest, leaving the Wolves vulnerable on the defensive end without Karl-Anthony Towns, who remains out with a calf strain.
Minnesota coach Chris Finch said his team’s lack of composure cost them against the Thunder.
“I think for sure, the frustrations boiled over,” Finch said. “It was not the most mature effort by us. We needed a way more mature effort than that.”
D’Angelo Russell scored 27 points against Oklahoma City, while Anthony Edwards continued his hot streak with 26. The third-year guard has scored more than 20 in eight of his last 10 games.
Minnesota’s defense has become a major source of concern after allowing at least 135 points in three of its last four games. With Towns sidelined, the Wolves’ margin of error is fairly slim.
“I kind of feel like we’re playing sloppy in some stints of the game,” center Naz Reid said. “Sometimes we might have bonehead turnovers that we’re better than. Things like that cost us the game. We just gotta be better moving forward.”
The Wolves have won their last three meetings against Indiana, including a 115-101 victory on Nov. 23.
–Field Level Media