Indiana Pacers: The good, bad and ugly from the 2020-21 season

Indiana Pacers - Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers - Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
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Caris LeVert, Indiana Pacers
Caris LeVert, Indiana Pacers – Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite a turbulent year, the Indiana Pacers find some saving graces this season

The Good No. 1: Caris LeVert’s one of a kind rise

Swapping the disgruntled Victor Oladipo for Caris LeVert will easily go down as one the franchise’s best trades ever. The 26-year-old was due for a breakout campaign after basically lying under the shadow of Brooklyn’s marquee stars. In Indiana, he was slated to be that guy as he arrived with All-Star expectations upon him.

But things rarely go as planned. Horror suddenly creeped in after his medical revealed a mass in his kidney. The health scare, which sidelined him for a good chunk of the season, instantly put a hold on the star’s future.

However, he made a triumphant return after the All-Star break, immediately leaving his mark on the team as a franchise cornerstone. While COVID sidelined him in the play-in, he finished the campaign tallying a career-high 20.2 points and 5.2 assists per game, giving the Indiana Pacers a potent cog for the future.

The Good No. 2: Ahh, finally some imperfectly good offense

The main rationale for firing Nate McMillan and bringing in Nate Bjorkgren was the across-the-board desire to have a better offense as the lack of which has proven to be a detriment to the team’s playoff success.

After ranking 18th and 19th in offensive rating in the past two seasons, the Indiana Pacers made a slight jump to 14th, but more than the modest surge is the good habits that have the offense a lot smoother despite the injury-brought instability to the roster.

Most impressive is the improvement of the team in the half-court, with the team generating the second-most assists in the league. The Blue and Gold has also veered away from plodding basketball, now ranking 4th in pace. Though they are still below average in three-point attempts and accuracy, all these have culminated into an attack that produces the fifth-most points per game.

The Good No. 3: Mr. Oshae Brissett brought subtle fireworks

Late-season signings are rarely monumental, yet the Indiana Pacers managed to find a jewel in the desert with sophomore Oshae Brissett, whom they initially signed on a 10-day contract before impressing in spot starts to secure a long-term bag from the front office.

The second-year forward was not a name that rang bells in Indianapolis when he first arrived, but he easily turned out to be a revelation. Ending the year averaging 10.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and a block per game on a remarkable 42.3 clip on triples, the Syracuse product figures to don the Blue and Gold for a long time.

Brissett is a quintessential 3-and-D player in the league who will certainly improve in future seasons. It remains interesting, however, to see how he impacts the way the front office will maneuver in the summer given the roster overlaps with T.J. Warren and Myles Turner’s return.