Matthes Manifesto II: Where do the Indiana Pacers stack up in the East?

Indiana Pacers (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
Indiana Pacers (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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INDIANAPOLIS, IN – JANUARY 06: Victor Oladipo #4 of the Indiana Pacers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – JANUARY 06: Victor Oladipo #4 of the Indiana Pacers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Indiana Pacers

Save for Golden State, no team gave the Eastern Champion Cavaliers a tougher playoff series than the Indiana Pacers, and Indiana improved everything that needed improvement over the summer.

A secondary ballhandler: enter Tyreke Evans, who averaged 19.5 points and 5.2 assists last season. More accurate bench shooting: enter Doug McDermott who saw only ten men shoot better than his 42.6% from three. More rebounding: enter Kyle O’Quinn who averaged 12.5 rebounds per 36 minutes the last two years. More athleticism: how about that Edmond Sumner? Those additions only enhance a team that returns it’s top seven from last year, who were pretty good in their own right.

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Grade the trade: Bucks land reputable backup guard in swap with Pacers
Grade the trade: Bucks land reputable backup guard in swap with Pacers /

Behind the Buck Pass

  • NBA Trades: The Lakers bolster their frontcourt in this deal with the Pacers Hoops Habit
  • NBA Power Rankings: Re-seeding the East after the NBA Draft, Free Agency Sir Charles In Charge
  • Pacers projected lineup and rotations heading into 2023-24 season FanSided
  • Bruce Brown sends message to Denver Nuggets after joining Pacers Nugg Love
  • NBA: Predicting the next jersey number to be retired by all 30 teams Sir Charles In Charge
  • The strength of the Pacers is their depth (if Toronto’s not the deepest team than Indiana is). Few teams can bring the waves of skill (positions one through thirteen) that Indiana can, especially if Sumner, the 12th or 13th man on the roster, can translate his preseason success into regular season bursts.

    The depth is the reason the Pacers have a very high “floor”, Indiana can replace (albeit temporarily) any injured player. The 2018-19 Pacers won’t be 0-7 without Victor Oladipo, unlike the 2017-18 version.

    How high Indiana’s ceiling depends on the strides that Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner took over the summer. Oladipo vowed to improve upon last year. His baseline is high he’s already an all-NBA and all-defense player. He shot well from three during the preseason (making 10 of 21).

    The question for him is if he can remain an accurate three-point shooter. Last year his percentages fell as the season progressed (Pre-all star slash: 48.4-38.1-81, Post: 46-34.2-76.6). Myles Turner needs to take a star turn. He might forever be a player who can get you 18-9 inconsistently. Consistency is the key for him, and so far it’s been elusive.

    The new rule emphasis on freedom of movement will only benefit a high basketball IQ player like Domantas Sabonis. He moves around the floor at an advanced level, if the preseason is any indication he’ll produce as well (15.3 pts, 46.4 FG%, 11.8 reb). Sabonis had a breakout year last year, expect another.

    Whether the Pacers leading trio takes a further step forward or stays the same, their supporting cast should be pretty similar to last year. Darren Collison will probably not lead the league in 3-point percentage this year, but he’s shot over 40% for three years now. It’s a trend. Him slipping even 2% still makes him an elite three-point shooter in the league. Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young should be able to maintain their consistent balancing act for the rest of the lineup; rising when needed, receding when others are hot.

    Indiana will be good once again, even very good, if the Pacers can take any other steps forward, they might even be great.