CSN is looking around the league as we prepare for the 2017-18 NBA season. Today, we break down the Indiana Pacers' outlook...
2016-17 record: 42-40, 7th in East
Coach: Nate McMillan
Key additions: SG Victor Oladipo, PG Darren Collison, SF Bojan Bogdanovic, PF T.J. Leaf, PF Domantas Sabonis
Key losses: SF Paul George, PG Jeff Teague
Projected lineup: PG Darren Collison, SG Victor Oladipo, SF Bojan Bogdanovic, PF Thaddeus Young, C Myles Turner
1. How will life without PG-13 be?
The Pacers made a major, franchise-changing trade this summer by sending George, a superstar, to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In comes Oladipo and Sabonis and that's it. They didn't get any draft picks. Instead, they brought in two players who can help them compete now.
Oladipo is a promising young guard who can score, albeit not very efficiently. Sabonis was a 2016 first round pick and projects to be a capable stretch-4. The Pacers will build around them and Turner, a budding star. It won't be easy moving on without George and it will be interesting to see if their young players mesh early or if this turns into a lengthy rebuild.
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2. Is Turner ready for more responsiblity?
Turner, just 21, has proven to be one of the more intriguing young players in the NBA through two seasons. He averaged 14.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks while shooting 51.1 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from three in 2016-17. Another step from there could put him in the All-Star game.
Without George in Indiana, more pressure will be put on Turner to lead the way. Oladipo can be included in that mix, but Turner is clearly the future and with that more focus will be put not only on his play but actions as a leader.
3. Are they playoff or lottery bound?
The pieces are there for Indiana to still compete, especially in a weakened Eastern Conference. The idea of them snagging a lower playoff seed in an East that could see a sub-.500 team make the postseason does not seem far-fetched. But just because they have some talent, doesn't mean they will put it altogether immediately. And one could argue they would be best off losing a little bit early to acquire more pieces to build around. As constituted, they don't have a whole lot unless Oladipo or Turner makes a significant leap. The Pacers could be one of the toughest teams to predict for 2017-18. They could be pretty good or not very good at all and it wouldn't be surprising.
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