Alex Poythress 2018 Season Review

Pacers forward Alex Poythress reflects on his season with the Pacers and shares his plans for the offseason.

Alex Poythress 2018 Player Review

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Alex Poythress 2018 Season Review

Pacers forward Alex Poythress reflects on his season with the Pacers and shares his plans for the offseason.
May 22, 2018  |  02:06

Alex Poythress 2017-18 Season Highlights

Check out some of the top plays from Pacers forward Alex Poythress' 2017-18 season.
May 22, 2018  |  01:08

Player Review 2018: Alex Poythress

by Mark Montieth Writer

Age: 24
Years Pro: 2
Status: Was on a two-way contract between the Pacers and Fort Wayne, but signed an NBA contract in December that runs through next season.
Key Stats: Played in 25 games for the Pacers, averaging 1 point in 4.2 minutes. Played in seven games for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants early in the season and averaged 20 points and 8.9 rebounds in 34 minutes per game.

Alex Poythress is stuck in basketball purgatory, giving him legitimate reason to be both frustrated and hopeful - frustrated by his lack of opportunity with the Pacers so far, but hopeful he's shown enough to warrant more extended opportunities next season.

Poythress is one of the more interesting Pacers, a player with pedigree and potential, but one who has yet to establish himself in the NBA. Time will tell if that's because he's lacked talent or the right set of circumstances.

Poythress, a 6-8 forward, was a five-star recruit in high school, ranked among the top 10 players in the country by some groups because of his exceptional strength and quickness. He signed with Kentucky and was expected by some to join their parade of one-and-dones who enter the NBA Draft after one season of college ball, but it didn't work out that way. Although he started 31 of 33 games as a freshman, his stats were modest amid all that talent. And then he tore his ACL in a freak practice accident eight games into his junior season. He returned for his senior season, got his degree and earned the respect of his coach, John Calipari, who called him "one of the greatest kids that I've ever coached."

Poythress was capable of dominating in college, such as in this game against Duke in 2012 that drew raves from Dick Vitale.

He went undrafted, largely because of concerns about his knee injury but also over his lack of consistency, but he's gradually worked his way into the fabric of the NBA. He's been an All-Star in the D-League and he's starred in the G League, so the next step is to shine at least a little in the league.

PHOTO GALLERY: Alex Poythress' 2017-18 Season in Photos »

His first big moment in the NBA came against the Pacers, the team that signed him to his first NBA contract. Playing the final six games of the 2016-17 season with Philadelphia in the era before two-way contracts, he scored 15 points in 23 1/2 minutes against them in the second-to-last game of the season while hitting 5-of-7 3-point shots. Two nights later, he scored 18 points at New York in 31 1/2 minutes.

The Sixers didn't sign him, though, and the Pacers got him back on a two-way contract this season. He played seven more games in Fort Wayne and averaged 20 points and 8.9 rebounds before the Pacers locked him up with an NBA contract that runs through next season. Opportunities were scarce, however, playing behind veteran forwards. He got into 25 games, almost exclusively in the closing minutes of decided games. He played double-figure minutes just once, a 22-minute appearance at Detroit when he scored four points. His season-high point total was six when he hit a couple of 3-point shots while playing the final 2:06 against Sacramento at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Oct. 31.

At the end of it all, however, he averaged just one point over 4.2 minutes per game.

One can't help but wonder how he would fare with rotation minutes over an extended period of time, like he got those final six games with Philadelphia in 2016-17, when he averaged 10.7 points over 26 minutes. But that kind of opportunity is often difficult to come by for an undrafted player. Drafted players and established veteran players tend to get in the way.

Hence, purgatory. Poythress has proven he's too good for the G League, but hasn't yet proven he's good enough for the NBA. He turns 25 in September, so the clock is ticking. The lease on NBA limbo tends to be short-term, and he'll need to find a way to earn an extension.

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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.