Indiana Pacers

Oshae Brissett: Canadian forward making his presence felt with Indiana Pacers

It's been quite the week for Indiana Pacers forward Oshae Brissett.

On Monday, April 19, Brissett made the first start of his NBA career while on a 10-day contract, finishing with 13 points and six rebounds against the San Antonio Spurs. On Tuesday, April 20, it seemed as though Brissett's performance would be rewarded as reports surfaced that Indiana was going to sign the Mississauga native to a three-year deal.

On the morning of Wednesday, April 21, the Pacers made Brissett's signing official just hours ahead of an important meeting with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

And on Wednesday, he was nothing short of impressive

Playing in a career-high 42 minutes, the 22-year-old finished with career-highs of 23 points and 12 rebounds (four offensive) to go with three blocks and two steals to help lead the Pacers to a 122-116 win over the Thunder, snapping a three-game losing streak in the process. The 6-foot-7 Brissett's performance was especially impressive considering the fact that he started at a centre due to injuries to Goga Bitadze, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner.

Malcolm Brogdon, who finished with game-highs of 29 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, was one of the players most impressed by the performance of Brissett.

"I think he's the best late signing of the season," Brogdon told reporters, per Tony East of the West Side Community News . "Maybe in the history of the game."

Turner and Jeremy Lamb each took to their Instagram stories to praise Brissett, with Turner saying "(Brissett) came out of the trenches and held it down."

Head coach Nate Bjorkgren, who worked with Brissett last season while both were with the Toronto Raptors organization, also beamed about the newest long-term Pacer , saying "he knows how to play. He has a good instinct to play the game of basketball, he has a good feel out there."

During his walk-off interview, Brissett spoke on how far he's come in one month's time, saying "I came in here with high hopes, I knew the work that I put in was going to pay off but to this extent, it's crazy. I just want to give a shoutout to coach and (general manager Chad Buchanan) for believing in me - the whole team honestly."

Undrafted out of Syracuse in 2019, Brissett landed a two-way deal with the Raptors for the 2019-20 season, appearing in 19 games with Toronto, highlighted by a 12-point performance in a narrow loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in January of 2020.

Ahead of the 2020-21 season, Brissett was hindered by a nagging knee issue and was one of the Raptors' final roster cuts following training camp. Due to rules surrounding salary cap circumvention, Brissett could not return to the Raptors 905 for the 2021 G League season.

As a result, Brissett landed with the Pacers organization after being selected with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2020 NBA G League draft by the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Indiana's G League affiliate. After standing out with the Mad Ants, Brissett inked his first 10-day contract with the Pacers on April 1.

With the ups and downs of the past year on his mind, Brissett reflected on what it took to get to this point.

"I really kept my head down and I really worked hard, ever since what happened with my last team, I told myself that's never going to happen to me again. And every day I work out, that's the mentality I take. And every time I step on the court, I know this is where I need to be and this is where I belong - in the NBA - and I'm gonna be here for a long time."

Brissett's performance came in a win that moved the Pacers to 27-31 on the season, giving them a two-game cushion over the East's 10th seed and bringing them within two games of the East's ninth seed. As Indiana looks to get healthy ahead of the 2021 Play-In Tournament, seeding will be an important aspect of its postseason prospects, a fact Brissett echoed during his postgame presser .

"I just gotta keep going, I can't really dwell on one game," the 22-year-old told reporters. "We have a whole bunch left and we gotta make this little playoff run."

With 14 games remaining until the Play-In Tournament, Indiana has one of the league's lightest schedules in terms of opponent's win percentage, per Tankathon . As Brissett continues to grow in his role this year, he will only continue to solidify his place in the franchise's future.

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