This season’s conclusion is still very much up in the air for the NBA and Indiana Pacers. Regardless of how this year concludes, the Indiana Pacers will be primed for success.
This season is undetermined in many ways for the Indiana Pacers and the entire NBA. With the season suspended, and possibly slated to get canceled, there are a number of ways the league could finish.
While this year could finish in a number of different ways, each possible outcome impacting the Pacers in one way or another, next season is going to be a big one for the Pacers. It’s the last year before Victor Oladipo heads to unrestricted free agency, and falling flat on their face in the playoffs could lead to seismic franchise change.
That’s unlikely, though, because the Pacers are primed for success in 2020-21. Let’s look at some key ways how.
Indiana Pacers development path is clear
A cursory look at the Pacers draft picks in the 2020 NBA Draft might make you think the Pacers developmental prospects aren’t all that great at the moment, but this might be the only year where not having a draft pick is somewhat advantageous.
Coming into the draft prior to the unexpected season suspension, there were already a lot of unknowns about this year’s draft class, particularly at the top of the draft. The Pacers weren’t positioned to select there anyway, and the Bucks own their pick in the first round this year anyway, so that was never much of an impact.
With the league suspended, there are many questions yet to be answered about how the NBA will handle the draft, when it will be, and how things such as the draft lottery, draft combine, and prospect interviews/workouts will run.
The draft is often a challenge for front offices. Properly projecting a player’s career in their early 20s is a difficult task as it is, but with confusion on how the draft will be handled this year and a barrier to even get in touch with players in-person for the foreseeable future due to travel restrictions and cautions over COVID-19, this year will be a murky, blindfolded dartboard draft.
The Pacers had no business in the first round of the draft this year, having sent their first rounder to the Bucks before the season started in a sign-and-trade that landed them Malcolm Brogdon. They could have traded in, but with all things considered that feels unlikely.
The team may still make a selection in the second round, but the second round always has been a relative unknown for teams.
What the Pacers do know is that they have Goga Bitadze, who only saw X minutes of play time this year. It’s not clear if that might increase next year and if Nate McMillan will need to work him into the rotation more, but the team is familiar with him, how he learns, and what he needs to work on. He’s like a seed the team has already planted, and they can continue to focus their developmental efforts on him for the time being.
While other teams may not even be able to assess their developmental needs until close to the season start for next year depending on how the league calendar gets adjusted due to this year’s suspension, the Pacers have some assurances with this part of their program.