A quick learner with championship experience — Jordan Nwora wants to show Pacers that he's more than a scorer
"Whatever [Carlisle’s] gonna need me to do, I'll be ready to do it," said Nwora. The 24 year old fills a need at power forward.
In his third season as a pro, Jordan Nwora was averaging 15 minutes per game, fewer minutes than he played the season prior. His shooting percentages were up, he was growing to be more comfortable on the floor.
However, he was outside the rotation and thus he was expendable.
And so at the trade deadline, back on Feb. 9, the Milwaukee Bucks traded their 2020 second-round pick to Indy for a package that included George Hill, Serge Ibaka and three second-round picks.
For the Bucks, it allowed for them to add veteran Jae Crowder to their championship-contending roster via trade while offloading players and their salaries.
For the Pacers, they were the beneficiary of additional draft capital while adding an intriguing piece in Nwora at power forward, plus bringing back home Hill. Ibaka was waived.
Whereas Hill had been traded several times before, including by the Pacers in 2016, this was a first-time experience for Nwora. (Ignore the N, it’s pronounced WORE-uh).
“In the moment, definitely a little bit of shock,” he said of the trade. “First time going through it — but super, super excited. I told a bunch of people this, obviously I went to school in Louisville, so really close. Actually, my first NBA game was when I was at Louisville here. We watched Donovan [Mitchell] play. So yeah, it’s a little special coming back here, being able to play here now. So definitely excited.”
This deal, in many ways, feels like the Pacers’ offseason trade of Malcolm Brogdon to Boston for several pieces, plus a draft pick. One piece was veteran center Daniel Theis. And another was Aaron Nesmith, a lottery pick in Nwora’s 2020 class, whose role was minimal because of talented players ahead of him.
The Pacers had tracked Nesmith, they were interested to see what he could do with a permanent spot in the rotation, but the trade was completed to move off of Brogdon’s salary and receive a first-round pick in return.
Now in his third season, on a new team and counted on, he’s starting and playing nearly 25 minutes per game.
“I do think there is a similarity situationally,” head coach Rick Carlisle said after the trade. “Jordan just got limited opportunities because of their veterans and a lot of the guys that were in front of him just didn’t get injured that much.
“He just gets the ball in the basket. The guy is a gifted scorer. This will be a great opportunity for him. … We feel that he can play both the 3 and the 4 positions. He’s bigger and taller than most people think and he’s been in a great system with great coaching in Milwaukee.”
The 2020 draft class was a unique one in that it was the Covid year, so that class didn’t have a draft combine, it didn’t have pre-draft workouts and draft night was not normal. Nwora becomes the fourth player from his draft class to join the Pacers, all via trade, along with lottery picks Tyrese Haliburton, Jalen Smith and Nesmith.
The 24 year old didn’t have a relationship with those new teammates previously, but he’s “excited to learn and grow with them.”
However, Nwora is already comfortable with Hill. He’s known Oshae Brissett for a while because Brissett played at Syracuse and Nwora is from Buffalo. And he played against Andrew Nembhard back in high school.