2018-19 Season Preview - Indiana Pacers
With King James no longer in the Eastern Conference for the first time in many years, the East is wide open and up for grabs. Who will be the new beasts of the East? A popular opinion seems to be a three horse race between the Celtics, Sixers and the Kawhi-boosted Raptors. But, one team that has slowly yet steadily improved in the shadow are the Pacers.
The rise of Victor Oladipo as an All-Star last season led many critics of the Dipo-PG13 trade to retract their initial judgment of the deal as lopsided. The budding R&B talent led the Pacers to 5th place in the Eastern Conference last season. In the playoffs, the Pacers came close to dethroning the Cavs in the first round but fell short in game 7. Victor ended picking up the Most Improved Player award along with All NBA third team and All-Defensive first team honors.
With the NBA regular season just days away, this is the perfect time to preview the sort of season one of the potential dark horses in the east - the Indiana Pacers might have.
The Pacers were one of the more intriguing teams heading into the offseason blessed with both adequate cap space and untapped potential. They had a very solid draft, picking Aaron Holiday, who many people expected to go much earlier. Being the third Holiday brother to play in the Association, the former UCLA Bruin has the ability to become a capable rotation guard or even more, given the right opportunities. The Pacers then went on and signed sharp shooting Doug McDermott to supplement Bojan Bogdanovic.
Veteran center Kyle O'Quinn soon followed him but arguably one of the steals of the entire offseason was the coup of Tyreke Evans. The once Rookie of the year had a stellar season with the Grizzlies, shooting threes at a high volume combined with excellent playmaking. He should be a potent backup for Oladipo, maybe even partner him in the backcourt when Darren Collison needs some rest.
Another move that went under the radar was the extension of Thaddeus Young, one of the most underrated players in the league. The moves made by Pritchard and the Pacers not only equipped them well with a deep roster but also saved up a lot of cap space to shell out in the next offseason, with more stars entering free agency.