The effect of the lottery results on the Indiana Pacers’ offseason strategy

Indiana Pacers, Rick Carlisle, Tyrese Haliburton (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Indiana Pacers, Rick Carlisle, Tyrese Haliburton (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Having entered the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery as holders of the fifth-best odds to land the first overall pick, the Indiana Pacers fell off a bit in the draw and will officially select sixth in the upcoming draft.

The news was met with relative disappointment among fans, as the Pacers remained the only franchise in the league to never be home to a first overall pick. Still, Indiana will have their own selection to kickstart what should be an eventful offseason as they go full throttle on a youth movement.

However, nabbing the sixth overall pick instead of a higher spot could have a significant impact on how the front office builds and improves the roster.

Landing the sixth overall selection could alter the Indiana Pacers’  offseason approach

For starters, had the Indiana Pacers been able to land at least a top-three selection, they will almost be assured of having a frontcourt prospect to fill in one of their most glaring weaknesses heading into the summer. After all, any of Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, or Paolo Banchero would immediately rise as the team’s best frontcourt player.

However, that changes now. With the sixth pick, the Pacers have to gun for clear talent instead of fit, unless fast riser Keegan Murray is skipped by the teams ahead of them. The next best available talents in Jaden Ivey and Shaedon Sharpe are inarguably more than just consolation prices, but Indiana picking one of them could have drastic effects on how the team handles its current roster.

First, drafting a guard or a wing makes trading Malcolm Brogdon and Buddy Hield even more logical and urgent. With Chris Duarte expected to log heavy minutes next season, the Pacers should trim the fat by cutting the veteran players clearly off-tangent from the roster’s timeline. Better yet, Indiana should be able to flip each of them for wonderful returns.

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Second, the Pacers will be forced to play with a bigger hand and be more aggressive in the trade market. The current crop of free agent forwards is not at all inspiring, but Indiana should be able to snag a forward who can help them immediately without compromising their youth movement through a trade (ahem, John Collins). As further collateral, the never-dim Myles Turner trade rumors should die pretty quickly, in view of their already-thin big man rotation.

Third, Indiana will not be incentivized anymore to sign or absorb massive contracts, especially with guards. Any iota of reason that illogical fans of other teams conjure, e.g. sending Russell Westbrook to the Pacers, should be dumped with blatant disregard for miracles and faint hopes. With a pressing need to address in free agency and in the trade market, taking on huge salaries, even with a good return hinged on draft capital, will limit their options to improve the roster.

The upcoming pool of rookies is yet another impressive one, but for the Indiana Pacers, even a slight decrease in the order of selection could swiftly alter how they could approach the offseason, as they seek to get back in the running in a tougher Eastern Conference.

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