The Indiana Pacers ranked sixth overall last year in assists, averaging 27.0 per game. This was thanks in part to the excellent play of starting point guard Tyrese Haliburton.
In his first full season at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Haliburton averaged just under 21 points per game while shooting 40% from behind the arc and averaging almost 10.5 assists a game.
Two players who experienced their names being brought up in trade talks for the majority of the season were Myles Turner and Buddy Hield. Turner averaged 18 points and 7.5 rebounds per game; Hield averaged 16.8 points while shooting 45.8% from the field and 42.5% from three-point land.
Based on last season and the current preseason, could the Indiana Pacers take a jump?
The Indiana Pacers were aggressive at the trade deadline for a second season in a row. They acquired forward Jordan Nwora, in addition to big man Serge Ibaka, who was waived, and saw the return of point guard George Hill in a transaction with Milwaukee.
Over the summer, Indiana swapped picks with Washington in the 2023 NBA Draft to pick up forward Jarace Walker. Their greatest signing in the offseason, however, was perhaps 6-foot-4 guard Bruce Brown, who is fresh off winning a ring with the Denver Nuggets.
With the loss of Chris Duarte, the Pacers are expecting more production out of Bennedict Mathurin. The former Arizona Wildcat was able to put up more than 16 points and four rebounds a game in his rookie campaign in just 28.5 minutes per game. The bench saw decent contributions, too, from guards TJ McConnell and Aaron Nembhard.
At the time of writing this, the Pacers currently are 0-2 in the preseason. They allowed opponents to score over 120 points in both games.
While being outscored by an average of 12 points a game in these losses, Indiana needs to find a way to do a better job scoring efficiently and cut down on turnovers. Furthermore, they need to prevent their opponents from scoring at will.
For the first time in four years, Indianapolis has a legitimate shot at appearing in the playoffs. Given the coaching caliber of Carlisle, the recent additions (from over the past eighteen months through this summer), and the potential growth & development from Haliburton, Mathurin, Nwora, and more, the pieces are there for the Pacers.