Pacers coach Rick Carlisle explains how G League has helped Jarace Walker

ORLANDO, Fla. — Indiana Pacers forward Jarace Walker has spent most of the season in the G League, and coach Rick Carlisle believes that time has helped him become better on and off the court.

Walker is averaging 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals on 37.7% shooting from 3-point range in 19 games this season with the Indiana Mad Ants. He has registered three 30-point games, including a season-high 38 points, six rebounds and six assists on Dec. 29.

The organization believed it was important for Walker to be with the Mad Ants to receive consistent playing time. He has had the chance to develop and continue his transition to the next level.

Carlisle said that has been an important step for him.

(He has) never been in a situation where he wasn’t one of the main players, so that is a big adjustment. It is humbling, but it is a part of becoming a pro, and the steps that you need to take to learn about it, experience it and embrace things like playing with the G League team, going on extended trips with the G League team (to gain) the greatest appreciation for what it means to be on an NBA team and earn your way to being a contributor, regular rotation guy and maybe someday a starter.

Walker has logged only 23 appearances with the Pacers this season. However, Carlisle and the team have leaned on him a bit more recently following the season-ending shoulder injury to second-year guard Bennedict Mathurin.

The team likes the physicality Walker can provide in spurts off the bench and will likely rely on him in different situations over the remainder of the season. They believe he is more ready to contribute and will remain in the NBA for the rest of the season.

Those minutes in the G League provided Walker with valuable experience, helping him learn the ropes and understand what it takes to be a rotation player in the league.

“There is no substitute for going through these experiences,” Carlisle said. “One of the real valuable aspects of the G League is that you get to see firsthand the difference between being with the NBA team and flying private and then traveling commercial into smaller cities with multiple connections, longer bus rides and no police escorts. You learn pretty quickly that it is special to be an NBA player. What you know and realize several years in, as opposed to what you knew when you walked in the door, is humbling.”

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire