As is, the Pacers could be looking at another low playoff seed

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 15: Myles Turner /

The Pacers have an almost entirely different rotation than they did during their first-round playoff series against the Cavs last April. However, the weak nature of the East could put them right back where they were for next year’s playoffs.

After Paul George’s agent infamously declared that George would not be re-signing with Indiana, most of the NBA media labeled the Pacers as a bottom-of-the-barrel team next season, with the playoffs being little more than a pipe dream.

I wouldn’t be so sure.

The 2017-2018 Pacers will be monumentally different than the 2016-17 team. Paul George, Jeff Teague, CJ Miles, Monta Ellis, Aaron Brooks and Lavoy Allen are all gone. In their place is Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Darren Collison, Cory Joseph and, reprising his role, Lance Stephenson. Yes, Lance was on the roster last year, but he played in 12 percent of the games.

There are a lot of fit issues with the new roster, and it will take everyone, including us, a while to fully understand what they’re capable of. They will almost undoubtedly be worse, if only because Paul George is better than no Paul George. However, they’ll be subjected to a significantly easier test this season. The bottom of the East got abysmally bad over the last few weeks. Let’s take a little tour.

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The Bulls lost Jimmy Butler, arguably the only one of their players besides Robin Lopez who wasn’t outrageously flawed. They’ll be serious contenders for worst in the league.

The Hawks lost Paul Millsap and will be trotting out a roster with Dennis Schroder as its best player. They’re still not entirely out of the running.

The Pistons lost Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who was without question their best player last season, as well as key contributors Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes. They got Avery Bradley in the KCP deal, who’s basically the same player, but they’ll still have an adjustment period.

The Hornets were a huge disappointment last season, they added Dwight Howard and “has yet to display an NBA skill” Michael Carter-Williams and they just might be favorites for the seventh seed.

The Sixers are generating a lot of hype, but their playoff hopes are still dependent on better injury luck than they’ve ever experienced to date.

The Nets had a nice summer, but no one besides Jeremy Lin thinks they’re playoff contenders.

The Magic will try their best to not turn Jonathan Simmons into Jeff Green, but forgive me for being skeptical.

The New York Knicks are a professional basketball franchise in New York, NY. Their head coach is Jeff Hornacek. They play in Madison Square Garden.

SACRAMENTO, CA – JANUARY 15: Victor Oladipo
SACRAMENTO, CA – JANUARY 15: Victor Oladipo /

That is all of the Pacers competition for the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The point I’m trying to make is: it almost doesn’t matter how good they are. As long as their not a total and complete dumpster fire, they have a shot.

And I don’t think they’ll be a complete dumpster fire. They’ve got a legit, two-way center in Myles Turner, the makings of a (maybe) two-way guard in Oladipo and a solid vet in Thad Young (provided he stays).

They’ve got lots of ball-handling with Collison, Joseph and Stephenson and maybe some front court scoring with T.J. Leaf and Sabonis. Do we really think that squad is going to be worse than three of those teams above? I’m not convinced.

Next: Summer League recap

It very well might be a long season next year, but it’s very possible there could be light at the end of the tunnel.