Indiana Pacers: What is the team’s ceiling next season?

Indiana Pacers - Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers - Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

With their poor 2020-21 season now behind them, what should the Indiana Pacers expect next season? Whether Nate Bjorkgren returns as head coach or not, the Pacers have a lot of other questions that need to be addressed.

Doug McDermott and T.J. McConnell are both set to be free agents, leaving Indiana with glaring holes in the second unit. The experiment of two bigs in the starting lineup may very well be coming to an end as Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner have not shown enough to be worth keeping both.

What is the ceiling for the 2021-22 Indiana Pacers?

The Pacers enter the offseason with a lot of important questions to answer within the roster. They have to decide if continuing with injury-riddled players is worth the investment after yet another year that was ruined by numerous ailments. Indiana also has to make a decision on its head coach, front office, and a handful of rotation players.

Aaron Holiday could very well be on his way out of Indiana after a down season despite the team picking up his option prior to last season. If he does not return to the rotation next season, Indiana may be in a bad spot behind Malcolm Brogdon at point guard with McConnell also being free to leave if he wishes.

After injuries derailed his season, Jeremy Lamb is also looking like a candidate to leave the roster this summer, whether through a trade or another move. His absence may be a bit easier to overcome with Oshae Brissett and Edmond Sumner stepping up last season but losing a veteran with a knack for scoring will not be completely smooth.

That also means that the Pacers would have to expect quite a bit from Sumner and Brissett if they believe they are capable of turning things around as part of the rotation next season. Brissett had an excellent first season with the Pacers and his expectations moving forward should be high but Indiana should not solely rely on his growth to uplift the team.

If Myles Turner is gone, there will be work to do on the defensive end to clean things up but if he stays, that may suggest Sabonis’ offensive impact will be missed. While I do think it is easier to make up for Domas’ offense through Caris LeVert, Malcolm Brogdon, and others, it still will not be an easy transition.

It’s tough to predict exactly how the roster will look once next season begins, especially before the NBA Draft is even here, but based on who the Pacers do have and what we have seen in recent years, we can make an educated guess.

So, what is their ceiling next season? It comes down to health first and foremost. If they are healthy, this roster can hang with some of the best teams in the Eastern Conference but not enough to really do any damage.

Verdict: 5th seed with one playoff series win

This is not a prediction of what will happen but rather how good the Pacers can be next season. They are still going to be a few steps behind the Nets, Bucks, and 76ers but sneaking into the 5th seed and winning a playoff series is not out of the realm of possibility. Of course, Indiana would have to break the trend of injuries if they want that to happen.

Season-ending injuries to key players will just crush any dreams for this team again next season. But getting another 20 points per game scorer in T.J. Warren to add to LeVert, Brogdon, and Sabonis, who all reached that threshold in 2020-21, would be huge for Indiana.

If the Pacers decide to shake up the roster completely, then this will certainly change. But as things sit, the Pacers are not looking to contend any time soon.

Next. Grading Indiana's last 4 drafts. dark