Photo: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire

If you like watching high-octane NBA offense, the Indiana Pacers are your team. They find ways to bend the defense and constantly push the pace in transition. 

They led the league in points and assists per game and ranked first, first, and second in advantages inherited, maintained, and created throughout the regular season.

Tyrese Haliburton is the primary catalyst who sparked this offensive combustion and deserves all the credit. But I want to shine the spotlight on another name, Andrew Nembard, who took another leap through the first round of the playoffs. 

Nembhard is sustainably solid. Solid might be an understatement, but everything about his game feels sustainable. There is something very mature about how he operates on the floor, deliberate and consistent on offense, dogged on defense.

His controlled cadence with the ball, footwork, and change of pace has always been an enjoyable watch. Aesthetics aside, Nembhard also takes on thankless tasks. Most of these tasks come on defense.

Nembhard’s Defense

There is still room for the second-year guard to grow on this end. He gambles on a lot, but his willingness not only to guard the primary offensive engine, but also to defend up and down on the positional spectrum needs to be highlighted. 

Defensive versatility matters. Nembhard gets this. One night, he’s chasing Steph Curry off the ball; the next night, a Luka Doncic post-up, high ball screens from Darius Garland one game, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander iso’s the next. 

Maybe we could coin Nembhard as a high usage defender.  He was in the 89th percentile in opportunities defended, higher than Aaron Nesmith and Pascal Siakam and in the 83rd percentile in opponents’ points per chance, also leading Indiana in this department.

Again thankless tasks, but Nembhard takes them on willingly. 


Let’s pivot to offense and hone in on his steadiness and ability to generate offense for himself. 

Sure, it might play a little into small sample-size theater, but through round one, Nembhard turned the ball over five times in 208 total minutes. That’s 35 minutes a game, and remember, these are Pacers high-flying, high-cardio, style minutes. 

Was he just running out there? No. Are his turnovers so low because he didn’t touch the ball? No. He totaled 28 assists throughout these six games. He has the third-highest assist-to-turnover ratio throughout these playoffs and also ranked in the 94th percentile in playoff hockey assists and 76th percentile in playoff potential assists

* Hockey Assists: Number of shots or shooting fouls directly created for teammates one pass prior to the result.

** Potential Assists: Number of shots or shooting fouls directly created for teammates.

Yes, everything needs context. Despite the lack of home-court advantage, it was against the Giannis-less and sometimes Lillard-less Bucks. However, it is still an interesting data point for his development as a game manager. 

The second-year combo guard picks his spots and picks them well. They are within the flow of the offense, but when the offense breaks down, he has that extra late-clock off-the-dribble creation juice.

Let’s touch on the flow of the offense. We already mentioned his stellar playoff potential assists, and hockey assists numbers, which also ring true in the regular season. Still, Nembhard’s ability to bend the defense and create high-quality looks by himself has been a fun development.  

When Nembhard touches the ball, good things happen. He ranked in the 81st and 74th percentile in advantages created+ and advantages created throughout the regular season, and he’s kept this same consistency in round one.

*Advantage Created: Player creates an advantage for their team; an advantage is deemed to be created if the team can generate a high-value shot off of the player’s action.

**Advantage Created+: Ratio between Advantages Created and Advantages Lost

What about when the offense breaks down? 

Well, the Pacers trust him. Even with the midseason addition of Pascal Siakam, they trust him to explore this mid-range studio space. A trust teams give sparingly these days and Nembhard has shown improvement. 

Mid-range efficiency (TS%) Mid-range volume 
Regular Season (2022-23) 57th percentile 57th percentile
Regular Season (2023-24) 69th percentile 67th percentile

Still room for growth? Yes, but it’s a notable data point and a vital sign that Indiana trusts him when things break down.

The sky’s the limit for Nembhard, but right now, it’s playoff time. The focus shifts to the Knicks, the Eastern Conference semis and avoiding the Jalen Brunson foul-drawing tactics while helping keep Brunson’s scoring down. The challenge is there for him to take on.