Shayne Whittington 2016 Season Review

Pacers forward Shayne Whittington reflects on his 2015-16 season, and explains how spending time with the Mad Ants helped with his development as a player.

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Shayne Whittington 2016 Season Review

Pacers forward Shayne Whittington reflects on his 2015-16 season, and explains how spending time with the Mad Ants helped with his development as a player.
May 19, 2016  |  02:21

Shayne Whittington 2015-16 Season Highlights

Check out these top plays from Pacers forward Shayne Whittington from the 2015-16 season. Whittington spent the majority of his season playing with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
May 19, 2016  |  02:56

Player Review 2016: Shayne Whittington

by Mark Montieth Writer

Age: 25
Years pro: 2
Status: 2016-17 is a team option.
Key stats: Appeared in seven games for the Pacers and scored a total of 11 points. Played in 40 games for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League and averaged 12.1 points and 7.9 rebounds.

Nobody committed more traveling violations for the Pacers last season than Shayne Whittington. He burned up I-69 between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne countless times, driving back and forth between the Pacers and Mad Ants of the Development League. The cities were two hours from one another, but felt like worlds apart to him.

He didn't complain. Indianapolis had the NBA team, the accomplished teammates, the fancy arena and the larger fan base, but Fort Wayne had the playing time.

Whittington made just seven appearances for the Pacers. Combine them, and it made for a decent night for a good player. He played 41 minutes, scored 11 points on 5-of-11 field goals, grabbed 12 rebounds and committed three turnovers. That was a drop-off from his rookie season, when he got more opportunity on an injury-riddled roster: 20 games, 108 minutes, and 57 points.

Pacers owner Herb Simon bought the Mad Ants so the Pacers would have a legitimate farm team, and Whittington was Exhibit A of the purpose of that transaction. The Pacers had invested in him, and wanted him to get as much playing time as possible. So he appeared in 40 games with the Mad Ants, for an average of 31 minutes, and averaged 12.1 points on 43 percent shooting and 7.9 rebounds. The previous season, before the Pacers took over operations of the Mad Ants, he played in six games for an average of 15 minutes.

GALLERY: Shayne Whittington's Season in Photos »

So, while Whittington contributed less to the Pacers last season than he had as a rookie free agent, it's safe to assume he improved. Whether that's good enough to keep him on an NBA roster remains to be seen, but there's no doubt the Pacers like having him around. He's got a great outlook and work ethic, and has the ability to make contributions. He's 6-11, strong enough to scrap around the basket and agile enough to knock down jump shots and put the ball on the floor to drive to the basket.

He just hasn't had many opportunities to show what he can do in an NBA game, or to find a rhythm with his teammates. His best moment to this day stands as his first appearance as a rookie, in the Pacers' pre-season opener, when he hit all five of his field goal attempts along with a foul shot in 20 minutes.

PLAYER REVIEWS: Read More Season Recaps »

"He's a good young player," David West said after that game. "He's heady. He knows who he is."

Which is to say a versatile player with the potential to become a class "stretch four" who can be effective near and far from the basket.

"He's got a great feel for the game," former coach Frank Vogel said after that game. "He's a tough kid. He picks things up pretty well. He's going to play like a rookie, but we're very high on what he can be. He brings an element of toughness to the big position that falls in line with how we play."

DRAFT CENTRAL: The Latest Pacers News On The 2016 Draft »

What all this means for his future remains in doubt. The Pacers have an option on his contract next season, so they could let him go. But he comes relatively inexpensively, will maintain a great attitude and still has the ability to contribute.

He's in much the same situation as Rakeem Christmas, who also played extensively in Fort Wayne last season. He's a legit prospect, but more legit prospects will be entering the NBA next season. It won't be easy for him to hold his spot, but at the very least he's proven he can make a good living playing basketball somewhere.

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Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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