Season Preview: Indiana Pacers

As a site, we ranked all the NBA teams from worst to best for our release of season previews. Day fourteen’s release of a season preview ends up being the new faced Indiana Pacers. I will provide a recap of their past season, an offseason recap, and then finally the season preview all of us fans are eager for.

Indiana Pacers:

Last Season’s Record: 38-44

Playoff Status: Missed Playoffs

Last season brought an end to the dominate reign Indiana had in the Eastern Conference. Paul George was lost for a majority of the season due to breaking his leg prior to the season. Even though most teams would have given up after losing their star player, Indiana played tough, defensive basketball, and was never an easy win for their opponents. Paul George returned with a about a month of play left, but coming off such a devastating injury, George was unable to help the team make the playoffs. Although the season was not very entertaining, Indiana was looking towards a lottery selection, and potential cap space to reconstruct their roster in a new image.

Heading into the 2015 NBA Draft, Indiana had no idea who would be available for them, but their sights were mainly on Myles Turner, a center from the University of Texas. Turner was seen as having the biggest boom or bust potential of any player, and although his skill set usually warrants a top ten selection, Turner fell into the laps of the Indiana Pacers at pick eleven. Turner will be able to help stretch the floor, as he is seen as a stretch five prospect. Turner also possesses an uncanny ability to time and block shots, giving Indiana a younger, higher potential replacement for Roy Hibbert Turner will need to add some weight to be a reliable starting center for the Pacers, as one of his biggest weaknesses heading into the draft was his inability to play in the low-post. With the signing of Jordan Hill this offseason, these two will likely have a fierce competition for the starting center position. Indiana did not have another draft pick, but were able to sign Rakeem Christmas, a rookie out of Syracuse, who they hope can bring explosion and depth to their power forward position.

The 2015 NBA offseason started off with a bang for the Indiana Pacers. As soon as Indiana selected Myles Turner, Roy Hibbert, their current center, asked for a trade. This may have been a blessing in disguise for Indiana, as they shed his salary, attitude, and overall regressed game. Indiana traded Hibbert to the Los Angeles Lakers for a future second round pick. Another member of their frontcourt, David West opted out of his contract to go sign with the San Antonio Spurs, as he felt they were more fit for championship contention. The loss of West will be huge for Indiana, as now they have to replace two starters, and one of their most vocal leaders. In free agency, Indiana made some quality signings. The biggest name being Monta Ellis, who will help take some of the scoring duties away from Paul George, and should free him up to be even more devastating for opposing defenses. As mentioned above, Indiana also signed center Jordan Hill. Hill was arrested earlier this offseason, and Indiana talked about voiding his contract, but they ended up keeping him on their roster. Hill will now compete for the starting position, and will likely win it, as Turner needs more development, and Indiana wanting to make the playoffs. Chase Budinger was acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves, in an effort to shore up their perimeter offense. Although Indiana lost their two frontcourt starters, they are ushering in a new era, and had a rather successful offseason, improving their overall scoring and depth.

Going into the 2015-2016 season, Indiana is a hot pick to make the playoffs again, after missing out last season. This is understandable, considering Paul George is back for the entire season. Cutting to conclusion could be a very poor decision, as the Eastern Conference is constantly improving, and there is about ten teams, who will be battling for the final playoff spots. The secure a final spot in the playoffs, Indiana will need Paul George to play like a MVP candidate. Indiana has said they intend to play George more at the power forward position, and his unique skill set will let him dominate down-low, as he stretches the defense, as well as slices through the interior defense. I fully expect George to be a lead candidate for MVP this year, as this team will be on his back. Ellis will need to keep up his Maverick’s days production, as he was a consistent offensive threat from anywhere on the court. Solomon Hill will be leaned up at the small forward position to stretch the floor, and be an efficient two-way player. The point is lead by veteran, George Hill. Hill knows his role in the offense, and will help stretch the floor, pace the team, and provide vital veteran leadership. The center position is going to be a battle between Hill and Turner, but I expect Hill to win the job, but by the end of the season, Turner’s upside and defensive presence should allow for him to get the starting position. The bench will be full of veterans, who know how to space the floor. Stuckey, Miles, Budinger, Allen, Douglas, and Turner all have the ability to stretch the floor, while back-up center Ian Mahinmi will provide a hard nosed veteran, capable of teaching Turner how to be physical down-low. This blend of starters, lead by George, and a bench full of shooters, will help Indiana make the playoffs again in 2016, and possibly have a MVP on their roster in George.

By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17

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