The Indiana Pacers signed Croatian forward Damjan Rudez officially yesterday afternoon, and they are very excited with what he will bring to the table for them this season. Many analysts and fans are looking at this move thinking that the Pacers signed him to be a bench piece and not as much of a major fixture into the rotation, but that line of thinking will likely turn out to be wrong. Indiana’s three-point shooting woes were very obvious last season, and that was the main motive behind this signing.
At 6’10” and just 201 pounds, he is a very difficult player to figure out. He has the size to be a power forward, but there is absolutely no way that he would fit in as a power forward against bigger players. After looking closer at his game film, it comes extremely obvious how the Pacers view him.
Rudez will come into Indiana as a small forward, who is more than capable of handing the ball, passing, and shooting the ball at a very high level. He was one of the best shooters overseas, and that is something that every single team in the NBA can use on their roster. There have been quite a few comparisons to Hedo Turkoglu, and that is exactly the role that he will end up playing with the Pacers.
He may not come into the 2014-15 season immediately and carve out a spot in the rotation, but by the end of the season he will be one of the key pieces off of the bench. Larry Bird did not sign Rudez to sit on the bench and not play, and he does everything that the Pacers desperately needed to have last season. Assuming his shooting ability doesn’t leave him with his move to the NBA, he will find minutes on the court without any problem.
This may not be one of the most talked about free agency moves this offseason, but it could end up being one of the most important. With LeBron James re-signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Central Division just got a lot more difficult for the Pacers to win. Having a player who can spread the court and knock down the deep ball like Rudez can is going to be something that will improve Indiana’s offense from last season.
Overall, it will be extremely interesting to see how head coach Frank Vogel uses Rudez in his rotations. He will find playing time for him, and Rudez is ready to contribute to an NBA team. There were quite a few teams trying to sign him this offseason, but he chose Indiana because he feels that he can contribute to the team and help them reach their goal of winning a championship. Expect to see a very good first season from Rudez this coming year.