With the offseason complete and the NBA regular season rapidly approaching, it is time to preview each team and set our expectations. Next up, we take a look at the Indiana Pacers.
Regular Season: 45-28
Eastern Conference: 4th
Playoffs: Lost to Miami Heat in First Round 4-0
- Cassius Stanley (54th Overall Pick)
- Jalen Lecque
- Amida Brimah
- Rayshaun Hammonds
- Kelan Martin
- TJ Leaf
- Alize Johnson
Three Key Questions
Will Sabonis and Turner work together?
Last season, Sabonis managed to wedge his way into the starting lineup for the Pacers and even earn himself an all-star selection but this move opened up more questions than it answered. In theory, Sabonis and Turner should work together. Sabonis works best at center with his effective pick and roll play and elite rebounding but he does not block shots. Turner is could work as a four but the problem is that his shooting is not quite threatening enough to spread the floor and he is an elite shot blocker so he should be in the interior. The other thing putting pressure on a roster change is that Warren threatens to work best at the power forward position. This leaves the Pacers with three starting level players to fill two spots. If they cannot work it out, the Pacers may have to look at moving Turner for a true wing player.
Can TJ Warren stay at his bubble level?
TJ Warren exploded in the bubble, averaging 31 points per game on incredible shooting splits throughout the seeding games and becoming the lead player on the Pacers. The questions now turn to next season and whether he can sustain or build on this level of play. Once the playoffs started, Warren was faced with impressive defense from Jimmy Butler and his shooting took a big hit, but he still managed increased production in comparison with the regular season. Going into next season, will we see the seeding games version of Warren of will teams come up with defensive game plans now that the Heat have slowed him?
What will come of the Oladipo situation?
Oladipo will be talked about all season long with the former all-star trying to re-establish his value as he nears unrestricted free agency. Indiana are unable to offer him an extension and to make matters worse, they can only offer him about $30 million less than other teams on a four-year deal. So, what do the Pacers do with him? The best-case scenario is that Oladipo is playing near all-star level by the trade deadline and they are able to move him for depth pieces to place around their main stars. On the other hand, if Oladipo cannot get enough interest by the trade deadline, the Pacers will risk losing him for nothing in the offseason as it is looking less and less likely that he will be a Pacer after this season.
While the Indiana Pacers do not look like a vastly different team on paper from last season, I expect them to fall down the rankings quite a bit. The Eastern Conference looks much improved and there is no way they are in the same bracket as the top 6 teams. Additionally, they were an overperforming team in the regular season last year and their defense in particular is not projected to hold up. The Oladipo situation could be a cloud over their head and hinder them and their new first-time head coach may take some time to develop an identity for the team. In the end, you can look for the Pacers to at worst make the play-in tournament with the ceiling of a seventh seed.
Regular Season Record: 33-39
Eastern Conference: 9th