T.J. Warren was one of the Orlando bubble's breakout performers, but his follow-up performance has been put on hold for the time being. The Indiana Pacers forward is out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture to his left foot that will require surgery, the team announced Thursday.
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Warren has been playing through plantar fasciitis for the first four games of the season, and had acquitted himself fairly well under the circumstances. He averaged 15.5 points on 52.9 percent shooting in those games, and while that's a far cry from the 31 points he averaged in Indiana's seeding games in Orlando, they helped the Pacers start the season with an impressive 3-1 record.
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Now, that hot start will be put to the test as the Pacers try to overcome Warren's absence. Fortunately, they have been buoyed by Victor Oladipo's return to form. After two injury riddled seasons, Oladipo is leading the Pacers with 22.7 points per game on a hyper-efficient 61.4 percent shooting. The Pacers will need him to keep up that performance with Warren out, especially considering his history with foot injuries.
Warren had this same surgery in 2016, when he was a member of the Phoenix Suns, though it came on his right foot. He played in only an average of 54.6 games per season during his first six years in the NBA, so durability was already a concern. That will force the Pacers to approach his recovery cautiously. They need Warren to be healthy for the playoffs, not necessarily the games that lead into it, yet Oladipo's own precarious health makes it hard for them to lean too heavily on him as well. This is going to be a delicate situation for the Pacers as they try to maximize the momentum they've built early this season.