The evolution of the Indiana Pacers: From no direction to bright future

With the Pacers making the playoffs, now is as good a time as ever to see how they got here.
Sacramento Kings v Indiana Pacers
Sacramento Kings v Indiana Pacers / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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Indiana's overall progress

This leads us to the current day. Indiana finished the 2023-24 season with an impressive 47-35 record, an incredible 20-win improvement over two seasons ago, and a 12-win improvement over the prior season.

The Pacers are set to face the Bucks in the first round, a team they have history with this season dating back to the In-Season Tournament, the infamous game ball incident of December, and the two Indiana revenge wins in January. The Bucks will most likely be missing Giannis Antetokounmpo for the first few games of the series and the Pacers have as good an opportunity as any to pull off a monumental upset.

None of this would have been possible all those years ago. If we rewind back only three years, the Pacers were a directionless group of talented players who did not fit together whatsoever. The front office attempted to keep the team competitive after the Oladipo injury only for plans to fall apart due to other injuries and poor play altogether. After finally pulling the plug, Indiana lucked into one of the best young point guards in the game today, and the rest is history.

Comparing the current Pacers roster to the pre-deadline 2022 Pacers is like night and day. Only three players from that ill-fated 'attempt' at competition remain. TJ McConnell, Isaiah Jackson, and Myles Turner, the current longest-tenured Pacer, surviving years of criticism and constant trade rumors to most likely be a Pacer for life.

Going back to find a certain period where the front office decided to change takes us to the 2022 trade deadline and offseason, where all the building blocks were set to create the team we have now. All in all, seven of Indiana's current rotation players were brought to Indiana in 2022, with some of them translating later on as future draft picks.

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It's hard to gauge where Indiana would be right now if they didn't make the move for Haliburton at the 2022 trade deadline. Perhaps they'd still be stuck in purgatory, perhaps they'd find another player to trade for. One thing's for sure though, it would be hard to do better than how they're doing right now, a playoff berth only two years in, and a serious chance to make a good playoff run.