Indiana Pacers

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The Indiana Pacers were the NBA’s surprise team last year. When Paul George left the Pacers for OKC, and the team acquired Victor Oladipo as well as Domantas Sabonis, a lot of people thought that it was the start of the Pacers’ rebuilding era. Oladipo had other things in mind, however.

Oladipo became an All-Star for the first time, while averaging 23 ppg. He was also named the NBA’s Most Improved Player last year, and earned spots on the All-NBA and All-Defensive teams.

The Pacers’ supporting cast likewise dished out sterling performances. Myles Turner, Darren Collison, Thaddeus Young, and the rest of the bench helped Indiana finish as the 5th seed in the East. They extended King Lebron’s Cavaliers to 7 games before finally bowing out of the playoffs.

Although the Pacers have a lot of youngsters in Oladipo, Sabonis, and Turner, 3 of last year’s starters are now aged 29 years or older; and Oladipo will turn 26 this year. You can say that Indiana now has the maturity to win, and they initiated offseason movements with that in mind.

 

Noteworthy Offseason Moves

The Pacers drafted Aaron Holiday and Alize Johnson with the 23rd and 50th picks, respectively, and declined their option on Lance Stephenson. Thaddeus Young opted in to a contract while Kyle O’Quinn and Tyreke Evans were inked to 1-year contracts. Doug McDermott was given a multi-year deal, while Nate McMillan’s head coaching contract was given a multi-year extension.

At first glance, these may seem like insignificant moves. However, these are actually major changes that the Pacers needed badly. A lot of fans were initially shocked at the Stephenson option snub. However, signing up Tyreke Evans to replace Stephenson gave the Pacers an upgrade from all angles. The problem is that Evans seems to have trouble staying healthy, so the 1-year deal is a risk worth-taking.

Last season, Indiana suffered from a poor-shooting bench. Only Corey Joseph shot over 35% from beyond the arc, while taking at least 2 3-point attempts each game. This means the Pacers didn’t have any decent shooters other than Oladipo, Bogdanovic, and Collison.

The team hopes to improve in this department by giving McDermott a multi-year contract. McDermott can come off the bench to provide Bogdanovic some help in their perimeter offense.

O’Quinn will add defense and energy to the Pacers’ big man rotation with Sabonis and Turner. Although the latter two bigs will definitely take up most of the playing time, O’Quinn can come in to provide quality veteran presence, and defend against the opposing teams’ best big men.

 

Outlook for the 2018-2019 Season

Indiana was a decent team last season, and they come in this year with practically the same nucleus with a few crucial additions. The transfer of Lebron James to the Lakers has left a wide open race for the Eastern Conference title.

The Celtics, Sixers, and Raptors are the early favorites to top the East, but the Pacers are just quietly lurking behind them. With a cohesive and well-balanced line-up, the Pacers may just pull the rug from under the favorites.

 

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