Barring surprises, the Indiana Pacers roster is built to tank this season

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 23: Myles Turner /

SportsLine projects the Indiana Pacers to finish with 31.3 wins, but is that too optimistic for this team that’s in a state of transition?

While asking a burning question of the Indiana Pacers and Victor Oladipo, CBS SportsLine predicts that the Pacers will win 31.3 games this season, giving them only a 4.1% chance of making the playoffs. Their prediction puts Indiana at 13th in the Eastern Conference.

So for the tanking crowd, this prediction must be pleasing — that’s a lottery pick — but it got me thinking about that is expected of this Pacers this season.

Not to harp on the tanking advocates, but there seems to be a real fear from them that this team will compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference despite losing 3/5th of their starters from last season. Poor team building led to a talented but ill-fitting roster, but this group doesn’t look better than last season’s 42-40 squad.

You have the expected mainstays in Myles Turner, Thad Young, Glenn Robinson III, Lance Stephenson, and Victor Oladipo, but the rest of the roster in a volatile mix of different classes of players.

Darren Collison, Al Jefferson, and Kevin Seraphin are transitional pieces I’d be surprised to still be with Indiana in two years. They could stick around, but they aren’t the cornerstones of what Kevin Pritchard is building.

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Cory Joseph and Bojan Bogdanovic should have futures with the Pacers, but that is entirely dependent on how they fit in with the mainstays — and if they want to stay. Joseph has a shot at being Indiana’s starting point guard and at worst could lead the second unit. Bogdanovic is a shooter and scorer, something Indiana needed last season but will need going forward as well.

The rest of the roster is young players that we’re going to find out if they have futures in the NBA, and that included Joe Young. Joe only has seen garbage time in his NBA career with a few exceptions, so he deserves one more shot with real minutes before the Pacers move on. Domantas Sabonis also need to prove what he’s worth as well.  The rookies — T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, and Edmond Sumner — are all first round talents, but whether that means Tyler Hansbrough or Danny Granger won’t be known for some time.

All of that is to say, the roster isn’t built to win this season, as the prediction reflects. It is build to put Indiana in the position to bring in free agents next season while taking fliers on Joseph and Bogdanovic. The younger players, which could include Robinson III, will have plenty of chances this season to develop their game and carve out a spot with the Pacers going forward.

31 wins seem possible, but as much as last year’s roster didn’t fit together, this one seems just as likely to struggle as a whole while certain players thrive.

The only way Indiana might get in the playoffs is if Turner breaks out while Oladipo finds himself again in Indiana. Thad will push the Pacers to win a few games as well, but even then, they’ll need a few surprises from the rest of the roster.

Next: Podcast: 8p9s writer Tony East joins Locked On Pacers

Don’t worry tanking advocates, you might just get your wish.