Preseason Preview #9: Indiana Pacers

Season Goal: Start Competing for ECF

After Victor Oladipo brought the Pacers their best regular season record in years, the Pacers should have big aspirations. Acquiring Oladipo in the Paul George trade many thought the Pacers would be a lottery team. Instead, they brought the eventual Eastern Conference champs to an exciting 7 game series. They had plenty of chances to win that series and acquisitions such as Tyreke Evans should help. With Lebron in the West, internal improvement, and solid offseason signings the Pacers should come close to the 3rd seed. They may not be able to beat Boston or Toronto to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but they should at least challenge them.

Storylines:

A Top 5 Backcourt?

If the Pacers allow Tyreke Evans to play point guard with Oladipo at the two they may have a top 5 backcourt. Despite garnering no major recognition as a future duo, they have a lot of promise. Evans and Oladipo are both extremely talented guards that can do almost everything on offense. They’re behind Steph and Klay, Paul and Harden, and Wall and Beal, but after that, it’s a serious debate. Last year Oladipo averaged 23.1 PPG on 54% eFG% and 4.3 APG while Evans averaged 19.4 PPG on 52% eFG% and 5.2 APG. Obviously, we will have to see how they play together, but those stats suggest they will be an incredible duo.

Two backcourts that could be argued over Evans and Oladipo are Dame and CJ and Kyrie and Jaylen. Dame and CJ combined for more PPG than the Pacers backcourt but were less efficient while dishing out the same amount of assists. Additionally, both Dame and CJ are well below average defenders while Oladipo is a borderline elite two-way guard. Nonetheless, there is definitely an argument for Dame and CJ to be #4. As for Kyrie and Jaylen, their role on the Celtics isn’t large enough for them to be top 5. Kyrie is obviously a star and arguably a top 10 player in the NBA, but Jaylen Brown just isn’t important enough to the organization for them to be considered a top 5 backcourt. Tyreke and Victor will carry so much responsibility for the Pacers’ that not only will their stats be better, they will also have a more direct effect on each games’ outcome.

Is Myles Turner a Future Star?

The former 11th overall pick has shown signs of being an elite player but hasn’t fully realized his potential. At his best Turner could be an athletic, shot-blocking, stretch five with a post game. But, so far, he has been reluctant to shoot a high volume of threes and has not improved as a shot blocker. Despite shooting a respectable 35.7% from three Turner only attempted 2.4 three-point shots a game. At that volume, he was making less than one three a game, which didn’t really improve Indiana’s scoring output. If he becomes more confident in his shot and is willing to increase his volume he could become a real threat as a floor spacer.

Another important area for improvement is defense. Turner blocked as many shots per game as he did his rookie season and had a better defensive rating. He’s only 22 and has shown so many flashes of defensive dominance it’s hard to think he won’t improve. Given that Indiana is such a small market Turner developing into a star is their best chance of becoming a true contender.

Depth Chart:

PG: Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, Aaron Holiday

SG: Victor Oladipo, Tyreke Evans

SF: Bojan Bogdanovic, Doug McDermott

PF: Thaddeus Young, Domantas Sabonis, TJ Leaf, Alize Johnson

C: Myles Turner, Kyle O’Quinn, Ike Anigbogu

Salary Cap Situation:

~103M of ~101M cap committed

Expiring Deals: Darren Collison, Myles Turner, Tyreke Evans, Cory Joseph, Bojan Bogdanovic, Kyle O’Quinn, Thaddeus Young

Bad Contracts: None

*All salary data via sportrac.com*

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