Shayne Whittington didn’t play like the NBA’s 500th-best player in his pro debut.
Not that the Indiana Pacers undrafted rookie concerns himself much with the dubious ESPN.com ranking. He hadn’t heard about it until a few days before his Tuesday pro debut. He and his teammates laughed about it.
What’s impressive about Whittington, aside from being able to joke about such things, is how quickly he has come back from a serious injury. He broke his left fibula and tore a ligament inside his left foot during a May workout in Chicago.
About two months ahead of rehabilitation schedule, he didn’t miss a shot and scored 11 points in a 103-90 preseason victory over Minnesota at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
While Whittington played well, he was reminded that left leg isn’t close to 100 percent just yet. When he attacked the basket on one play, his inclination was to dunk. But the leg wouldn’t allow it, so he settled for a lay-up.
Whittington estimates he’s at about 70 percent: “I’m happy with my performance so far.”
Here’s a video of his postgame interview.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel liked what he saw from the reserve.
“He has a great feel for the game; he picks things up pretty well,” the coach said. “He’s a rookie, but we’re high on what he can be. For us to get him as an undrafted guy is a good pickup.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.