Daydo day of the week, SI’s Chris Mannix will check in with the Bubble Bits, a quick kick to something visible from within the NBA campus.
BUENA VISTA Lake, Fla. – Cash considerations. The words grip TJ Warren. Still do Getting to market is one thing, as Warren was last July, moving from Phoenix to Indiana. The handshake – which the Suns did, moving Warren to the NBA equivalent of pocket change – is another matter. Warren stated that Phoenix made a mistake. He vowed to prove that the Sun was wrong.
He has – or at least Indiana thinks so. Warren has been the NBA’s biggest resumption story. He scored 53 points in the Pacers̵7;s night win over Philadelphia. He followed with 34 and 32 against Washington and Orlando, respectively, who tied the Jermaine O’Neal franchise record for points over a three-game space. He added 16 more on Thursday against Phoenix, a revenge game of the kind Indiana lost.
Warren’s offensive outbursts are impressive, though not exactly shocking. Warren has always been a goal scorer. He was averaging 25 points his sophisticated year at NC State, enough to make it a lottery choice. He was on average double figures from his second year at Phoenix. He scored 18 points per game this season before the Suns traded him, becoming one of the NBA’s most effective shooters. In his first year in Indiana, Warren averaged his career-best points (19.7) and field goal percentage (53.9%).
“If you know TJ Warren,” said Pacers keeper Aaron Holiday, “you know he’s a bucket.”
The explanation is not complicated. Warren works – constantly. Teams say he only thinks about the game. His mentor, former Pacer David West, was just as dedicated. “I play a lot of basketball,” Warren said. “Whether I’m at home or with my friends, I just want to be a hooper.”
This season, with Victor Oladipo still recovering from a leg injury, Warren had more chances. He capitalized, posting All-Star level numbers. In defense, Warren took significant steps. In the absence of Oladipo, Warren took the top wing of the opposition and was effective.
Indiana needs Warren now. But the Pacific should be excited to have it in the future, too, when its ceiling could be even higher. A non-threat from the three-point range his first four seasons, Warren shot 42.8% in 2018-19. In Indiana four games since the resumption, Warren has been launching. He shot 12 triples against Philadelphia – half of what he tried all over February. He shot 16 others during the next three games.
Warren did not work on his three-point shot during the pandemic. Like many, he could not find a gym. In the parks where he went, the clothes were not ten feet high. The work, Warren says, came mentally. He watched a lot of movie. He “closed” in on his weaknesses. Pacers coach Nate McMillan has encouraged Warren to be aggressive, and Warren has embraced him.
“I have always been a signatory,” Warren said. “I’m happy with that. I just have to keep improving day by day.”
If Warren does, Indiana will benefit. The Suns demanded that three years and $ 34 million remain in Warren’s contract. Indiana considers it a bargain. Oladipo, Myles Turner, Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis are 28 years old or younger. Warren, 26, fits into that mix. No matter what happens after the season, the Pacific has a bright future. Warren is a big reason why.