Part and parcel of what makes the future so bright for the Indiana Pacers is their awe-inspiring flock of young talent. Led by Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin, among others, they are arguably set up much better than most teams that are currently ahead of them this season in the aspect of win-loss cards.
That being said, having a plethora of talented players does not preclude the front office from venturing out in hopes of refining the team around the edges. While a blockbuster signing may not be a realistic path for the franchise in the upcoming summer, they do have more than sufficient cap space to throw at free agents who can immediately help them in the following campaigns.
The Indiana Pacers should keep an eye on this microwave scorer as a potential target in free agency
Despite the Pacers’ boatload of offensive firepower on the roster, their team offense is far from a polished product — more than halfway through the season, Indiana ranks 21st in offensive rating and just 17th in effective field goal percentage despite them hoisting up the sixth-most three-point attempts per game.
Hoping for those numbers to improve next season is imbued with credence due to the sheer talent and lofty ceiling of the team’s core. However, the Pacers have been downright terrible sans Haliburton, their leading scorer and assist-man, raising the need for the team to bolster its scoring armory to keep up with the across-the-board offensive explosion in the league.
One upcoming free agent that can help them in this regard is Hornets swingman Kelly Oubre Jr., who is quietly turning in his most productive season yet. Logging a career-high 20.1 points per outing, the 27-year-old has taken it upon himself to carry Charlotte on its back scoring-wise due to injuries to LaMelo Ball, their best player.
Oubre is miscast as a primary option — his below-average shooting splits seem to corroborate just that. However, in a more ancillary role, it’s easy to see why he can thrive, especially with the Blue and Gold.
The Pacers bench leads the league in points per game, clocking in at 42.8 per game, yet that is certainly going to diminish once sixth man Bennedict Mathurin earns an overdue promotion to the starting unit. Buddy Hield could step down in his stead, but his shooting is too valuable for the opening group’s lineup to just sequester for a role shift.
If so, then Indiana should aim for a consistent sparkplug off the bench who can also address the team’s size woes on the wings and occasionally start games. With Chris Duarte having shown inconsistent tendencies, Oubre could slide in as a lethal option for Rick Carlisle to turn to if he needs a scoring jolt or length on D.
Oubre’s asking price could be higher than expected, but the Indiana Pacers should definitely have him on their free agency whiteboard. He may be far from the piece that takes them nearer to contention, but he can definitely aid them in current areas of need.