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Chris Duarte
Chris Duarte
Position: G
Born: 06/13/97
Height: 6-6 / 1.98
Weight:180 lbs. / 81.6 kg.
Salary: $3,749,400
At your introductory press conference, you talked quite a bit about restoring the Pacers’ historic commitment to defense, which kind of went by the wayside last year. How do you do that? Rick Carlisle: Work. A lot of work. The number one thing is to get them in great condition, develop chemistry and implement an offensive and defensive system that makes sense for this group. It’s pretty clear from our draft, we’ve brought in two guys (Chris Duarte and Isaiah Jackson), who were high-level college defenders. And then adding Torrey Craig, who’s a defensive-minded guy, so the offseason moves have all been in the direction of adding competitive defensive players. (Assistant coach) Lloyd (Pierce) is essentially going to be the defensive coordinator and Ron (Nored) will work with him on defense. Our big emphasis will be on ball movement and defense. I should say defense and ball movement. The defensive side of the ball is something we’re really going to concentrate on. We’ve got to do better there.
The disparity was evident in Monday’s game with the Pacers as Duarte played his first summer league game. He showed why the Knicks lusted after him. Duarte scored 14 points in 26 minutes, making 3 of 7 3-pointers, and registering two blocks. Afterward, Duarte said he was aware the Knicks were trying to move up but was just happy to be picked so high. Duarte blocked Grimes’ shot on a fast break, then demonstrated his jumping ability by leaping to reject with two hands an Obi Toppin runner. According to a source, Knicks senior vice president William Wesley was Duarte’s biggest fan and sat courtside in watching Duarte’s polish Monday.
The Pacers see Duarte as an immediate contributor; there will be growing pains, as there are with all rookies, but he’s as close to a finished product as there was in a draft dominated by teenagers. “The league has become much less about play-calling and more about free-flowing action on the offensive end, and you need players who can shoot the ball, handle the ball, can pass, have a high IQ, and Chris checks a lot of those boxes,” Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan said. “You watch the NBA playoffs, you see players his size and skill level who are succeeding. He can do a lot of things that help in a playoff setting when things break down. The ability to create a shot … that’s super critical in our league. The more guys you have who can do that, the better.”