As another NBA chapter nears, it’s time for our season previews. Time to check in on the Pacers…
Expected Conference Ranking: 13th
Best Move of the Offseason: Here are a list of things that the Pacers DIDN’T trade Paul George for:
- A blimp filled with hydrogen.
- A big wooden horse.
- Joakim Noah’s contract.
So kudos! It could have been worse!
Worst Move of the Offseason: You know a superstar trade is bad when the things a team got back, they could have acquired without actually including the superstar in the trade. Victor Oladipo quietly has one of the worst contracts in the NBA. If Paul George weren’t on the table, and Indiana had called the Thunder and said “hey, we’ll take Oladipo’s contract to get Sabonis,” Oklahoma City would have said yes. In a heartbeat. They weren’t paying the luxury tax for a No. 6 seed. They would’ve gladly accepted a cap dump.
Cap dumps should not get you the 14th-best player in the NBA. You should not be able to accidentally trade for Paul George.
But Kevin Pritchard didn’t want to reward Paul George’s disloyalty by sending him to the Lakers or Cavaliers. It’s like they left a flaming bag of dog poop on their own porch to spite their mailman.
Their Offense: Well, Cory Joseph can’t dribble. And Victor Oladipo can’t dribble. And that’s their backcourt! If opponents really wanted to keep them from crossing half court, they probably could. We have a team here that is not openly trying to tank, but might also not be able to score against the University of West Virginia. You have to try really hard to end up in that situation. Even the Pelicans accidentally signed Rajon Rondo.
If you have five players who can’t dribble, they’d better be great shooters. Here are the career three-point percentages of their projected starting five:
Cory Joseph: 31.7 percent.
Victor Oladipo: 34.6 percent.
Thaddeus Young: 32.7 percent.
Domantas Sabonis: 32.1 percent.
Myles Turner: 33.3 percent.
Post-ACL Rondo has shot 35.7 percent. Post-ACL Rondo would be the best shooter on this team.
Myles Turner might be good, though. That’s this team’s one ticket out of picking first. Turner is going to Elton Brand this team out of future contention by being bad enough not to lead them to the playoffs. But also ensuring they never have a really high pick. I’d rather be the Nets than the Pacers right now. I’d rather be the Sonics, and they won’t exist for another five years.
Their Defense: This team is going to take pride in their 19th-ranked defense. Oladipo is going to talk up a storm about how focused he is on becoming a true stopper. Turner will rack up some big block numbers. Joseph will try hard. Young is vaguely switchy. If the Pacers had the best offense in the NBA, this defense could get them to a No. 4 seed. They of course have the worst offense in the NBA, which means they’ll be picking seventh.
Their Bench: They brought Lance Stephenson back from the dead. They might as well have signed Kurt Rambis.
Best Case Scenario: Myles Turner becomes a superstar. That is literally the only positive thing that can come out of this season.
Worst Case Scenario: Anything else. But watch Pritchard trade for Evan Turner at some point. He used to work for Portland, he has relationships there. The Pacers need ball-handling. He’ll talk himself into it.