The rookie that outplayed the vets: Who is Andrew Nembhard?
Updated: Dec 12, 2022
Anchor Staff Writer
It wouldn’t be surprising if you had no idea who Canadian-born Indiana Pacers’ guard Andrew Nembhard is. A member of the 2022 NBA draft, Nembhard is still brand new to the league, and still needs to put his best foot forward. He was selected by the Pacers as the first pick in the second round. On July 22, 2022, Nembhard signed a four-year, $8.6 million contract, making him the first-ever second round pick to sign a rookie contract that high.
Prior to upstaging a currently hot Stephen Curry and Golden State Warriors, or even before hitting a game-winner against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, he's already been showing off his skills. Dubbed a "pleasant surprise" for the Pacers, Nembhard has so far been useful in not just three-point range shots, but also as a good defender and is reliable during crunch time. This especially showed in his most recent performance, which saw Nembhard score 31 points against the reigning NBA champs, without the help of injured teammates Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner.
Nembhard’s sudden electric performance turned heads due to his stats prior to the NBA. This is especially since during a total of 131 collegiate games played in his college career, he never scored more than 25 points.
Fans have witnessed how just a few outstanding games by a player could turn them from an unknown to a household name overnight. Jeremy Lin did it during his “Lin-sanity” run, and Jordan Poole did it during the 2022 NBA finals. An unexpected streak of big performances can also put a player in a position to earn big money, sign lucrative brand partnerships such as a shoe deal and so much more. So is Nembhard capable of that? Absolutely.
Though every new player needs time to thaw, you can tell early on, through characteristics such as hustle and discipline, who may be a star, if not already rising, and who seemingly won’t be.
If a player has a bad game, will he stick around for an hour or two putting up shots? If he’s injured, is he going to do his best to stay in shape so that he can come back as fast as possible? If he gets demoted to the G-league, will he ball out every game? Or put in his all on every play? The answers to those questions can clarify a lot about an individual’s future in the league. Furthermore, it's crucial to look at team around the player that's being evaluated. Are they a super team? Are they a bunch of average players? Do they rely on only one star player?
Due to Nembhard being a fresh face in the league, it’s actually really hard to answer those questions. Yes, he's balled out a few times, but he could also do an out-of-no-where 360 and go through an offensive drought. Whichever way you look at the rookie, he’s shown that he is clearly capable of doing what’s needed to succeed in the league. Plus, he isn’t in a super team like the Warriors or the Lakers, both of which he beat with a lot of the pressure on him.
In the game against the Warriors, Nembhard guarding Curry, and managed to hold him to only 12 points. Aside from what the fans and critics see, it seems that Nembhard’s coaches see something as well. But like most rookies who are second round picks, Nembhard didn’t start off in the G-league. In fact, Nembhard is actually part of the Pacers’ starting rotation.
It’s pretty clear that Nembhard is a great pick for the Pacers and he can make a name for himself with this team the best. Due to the Pacers being a relatively young squad, many of them are still in that “proving themselves” stage and there isn’t a set leader. For example, when fans think of the Boston Celtics, some of the first names that come to mind are Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
That being said, if Nembhard continues down this path, he could very well, and rather quickly, make himself one of the faces of the Pacers.