The new look Pacers are gearing up for the 2017-2018 NBA Regular Season. The Indiana Pacers are moving on without All-Star guard/forward, Paul George. The Pacers were able to get Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo in the trade with the Oklahoma City this summer that sent Paul George out of town. They also lost former All-Star point guard Jeff Teague. Teague was a disappointment last season, so the Pacers decided to move on and bring back Darren Collison. The Pacers still have some talent on this team, but they lack a star now. The good news is the Eastern Conference truly got worse this offseason, so the Pacers may not be completely irrelevant this season like many expected after the Paul George trade.
Gaining young big man Domantas Sabonis is a nice addition, but he is still pretty raw for the NBA at the moment. He showed some glimpses of great fundamentals and defense last year in OKC, and I anticipate an even better sophomore campaign for the young big out of Gonzaga. Victor Oladipo was underwhelming last year in OKC, but I think he will find more success this season in the East. The East will be primarily slower than the West was and he will face lesser opposition more often. He was always guarding the opposing team’s best player last season, but this season it will not always be the case. He will be asked to be one of the top 2 scorers and I think he has a legit chance to be an All-Star this season because of the role he will be asked to take in Indiana.
While adding Oladipo and Sabonis were good moves, adding Cory Joseph, Darren Collison, and Bojan Bogdanovic also will benefit the team. Joseph and Bogdanovic will bring some playoff experience from last season and Collison will be a great distributor and scorer for Indiana. Drafting T.J. Leaf was also a nice pick and I believe he will be a nice stretch four for several years.
The Pacers return some key players including Glenn Robinson III, Myles Turner, Thaddeus Young and Lance Stephenson. Lance Stephenson is truly a character and I do not know what to expect for the veteran guard. The guy is so inconsistent, but he truly does play hard. His energy is undeniable, but he can sometimes be too much to handle out there. Robinson III will see an increase in minutes this season and his athleticism will be more of an asset this year. He will average probably closer to 10 points per night and will start a decent amount of games. Thaddeus Young is an undersized four man, but he can really rebound and defend. He also finds ways to get into the scoring column and he is another great energy player that Indiana can hang their hats on. The Pacers also return Myles Turner. He is becoming one of the best young big men in the NBA and he could be an All-Star this season as well. He is also my early pick to win the Most Improved Player and I believe he will average around a double-double for the season.
The Pacers lost a top 10 player, but thankfully the Eastern Conference lost a lot of talent this summer. The Pacers squeaked into the playoffs last season, but I do not predict a playoff berth this season. The Pacers will not be completely miserable, but the lack of a star will haunt them. They have no true go-to player and they will rely on a lot of team basketball this season. Realistically, I foresee the Pacers finishing between 10th and 11th in the Eastern Conference. They will win between 30 and 36 games, and I expect them to be one of the best defensive teams, especially in the half-court. This team will win games with great defense. They lack on the offensive side, but they have good defenders who start as well as some who can come in off the bench.
The Pacers do not need to rebuild necessarily, but they better hope for a star in the near future. This team has a lot of young and inexperienced talent. They will struggle to score and also struggle to get easy buckets, but the defense will win them some games. Indiana Pacers fans, there are better days ahead. Indiana is one player away from the playoffs, but several away from contending again for a ring again.