Countdown to NBA Tip-off: Indiana Pacers Season Preview

Indiana Pacers
NEW YORK, USA - JANUARY 11: Domantas Sabonis (11) of Indiana Pacers in action during the NBA match between Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York, United States on January 11, 2019. (Photo by Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Indiana Pacers have been one of the league’s better teams for the past few seasons. Although Paul George and his original nucleus are all gone, the Pacers have always reloaded. The Indiana Pacers’ season preview shows added to an already talented team in hopes of making a playoff run this year.

Indiana Pacers Season Preview

Recap of Last Season

The Pacers finished last season with a record of 48-34 and the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Their continued success, even after Victor Oladipo‘s season-ending injury, put the league on notice. Myles Turner continued to grow to look like a future All-Star, as did Domantas Sabonis. Veterans like Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic provided leadership and a scoring punch. Head coach Nate McMillan did a wonderful job with what he had available.

Losing Oladipo, however, proved to be very costly in the playoffs. The Pacers matched up versus the Boston Celtics in the first round, and simply did not have any offensive firepower to rely on throughout the one-sided series. The Pacers got swept, and only managed to score over triple digits in one game of the series. Bogdanovic typically kept games close and interesting, but it wasn’t enough.

Indiana Pacers’ Offseason Changes

Indiana played a significant role in one of the wildest free agency periods in NBA history. First off, many of the Pacers’ most significant contributors left the team. Bogdanovic opted to join the Utah Jazz‘s latest project, while Young was identified as the veteran leader the Chicago Bulls needed. Cory Joseph accepted a hefty offer from the Sacramento Kings, while Tyreke Evans faces a two-year NBA suspension for substance abuse and Darren Collison retired.

A handful of veteran contributors leaving would typically stifle a team’s progress, but the Pacers added younger and arguably better options. Malcolm Brogdon was brought in from the Milwaukee Bucks to take over the starting point guard role. Brogdon is a fantastic defender and borderline elite shooter. He has the tools necessary to develop into an All-Star and a terrific backcourt partner with Oladipo.

T.J. Warren replaces Bogdanovic. Although Bogdanovic is a better shooter and proven winner, Warren is a talented scorer typical of playing an essential role for any team. Jeremy Lamb was another stellar addition. Lamb is a reliable scorer and will ease the burden on Oladipo’s return. T.J. McConnell and Justin Holiday are substantial bench additions.

Indiana Pacers’ Season Expectations

The Pacer’s season relies on Oladipo’s return and production. Most reports have Oladipo returning before the All-Star break, perhaps as early as December or January.

The team’s core is strong enough to be in the thick of the East’s playoff race until then. Turner and Sabonis will form a strong frontcourt duo, while Warren will get to show off his scoring potential. A temporary backcourt of Brogdon and Lamb could produce elite shooting.

With the offense needing a new focal point, expect to see a breakout season from Turner. He became an elite shot-blocker last season but this year has all the tools necessary to average a double-double and scoring averages in the high teens.

Brogdon’s game will also elevate. He’ll be the primary ball-handler and can put up All-Star worthy numbers until his role slightly decreases with Oladipo’s return.

Season Prediction

Indiana will finish with a record similar to what they had last season. Expect them also to finish somewhere between the fourth and sixth seed. A healthy Oladipo will also mean the potential for a long playoff run. The Pacers have a team capable of advancing through the first round, but will likely fall to either the Bucks or Philadelphia 76ers in the second round.

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