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2018 Offseason Team Needs/Roster Breakdown: Indiana Pacers

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After a surprising 2017-2018 season, the Indiana Pacers found themselves one game shy of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. The likely Most Improved Player, Victor Oladipo, proved this year he’s an All Star and that he’s ready to lead a team. Oladipo is another product of the great drafting by the Oklahoma City Thunder. With proven power forward Thaddeus Young contemplating opting out of his player option, this could lead the Pacers to focus their draft around replacing Young.

Team Needs/Roster Breakdown

Center

Myles Turner has proven he’s a defensive force thus far into his two-year career. Domantas Sabonis has been everything the Pacers had hoped he would be after acquiring him from Oklahoma City. Turner and Sabonis are a great one-two punch, which was noticed in the highly entertaining first round versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. With veteran Al Jefferson owed $10 million this season, this could prevent the Pacers from bringing in additional help elsewhere. Keep in mind Jefferson didn’t play at all in their playoff series against the Cavaliers. After this season, expect the Pacers to extend the contract of Turner or look to add depth to other positions in the lineup.

Power Forward

The Pacers are lacking serious depth at the Power Forward position, especially if Thaddeus Young chooses to opt out of the final year of his contract. Other than Young, T.J. Leaf and Alex Poythress haven’t contributed as expected early into their careers. Leaf (UCLA), and Poythress (Kentucky), were expected to have similar careers to their college days. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet, though they’re both early into their careers with plenty of time to improve. If the Pacers are unable to intrigue Young enough to exercise his player option, they need to replace him for sure. Potential replacement options the Pacers could look into include high flyer Aaron Gordon, or Julius Randle, more on him later. Gordon would be great alongside Oladipo and would add energy to this resilient lineup. Pending the Lakers’ offseason moves, which could consist of adding LeBron, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard, who recently requested a trade, they may not have room for Randle financially. Randle would arguably be a step up from Young, but the scenario in which he’s added is unlikely. The Pacers should hope Young decides to stay after a promising season.

Small Forward

Other than Bojan Bogdanovic, who at times lit up LeBron James in that first round series, the Pacers lack serious depth here. Bogdanovic’s backup, Glenn Robinson III, showed minimal signs that he’s worth re-signing. This is another area in which the Pacers lack reliability, a good reason as to why they couldn’t overcome the weak Cavaliers. Former Pacer, Paul George, could potentially look into making a return after witnessing what Oladipo did to this Pacers team. Don’t rely on that, as it’s beyond unlikely. Wing players like Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood would fit nicely with this team, but are both restricted free agents, meaning they can be retained by the Bucks and Jazz respectively if Indiana is able to ink either to an offer sheet. Hood’s defensive play and ability to create shots would fit better than Parker, whose knees are a risk I’m sure the Pacers don’t want to gamble on. This position needs a serious boost to help the Pacers contend for a high seed in the Eastern Conference.

Shooting Guard

This is where the Pacers truly have reliability and stability at a position within the lineup. Starting guard Victor Oladipo has shown he has all the qualities to be an all-star, which was rightly proven by taking LeBron James and the Cavaliers to seven games. Oladipo will look to build off this previous season and build a stronger campaign to lead his Pacers to a deep playoff run. Backup Lance Stephenson is a complete character, who can also back up his antics through his play. Stephenson is most notable for constantly toying with James throughout numerous playoff series. The combination of Oladipo and Stephenson will continue to be a threat against any team they will encounter this upcoming season.

Point Guard

The duo of Darren Collison and Cory Joseph had their ups and down throughout the year, but seemed to both vanish in the playoffs, especially Joseph. Collison provides a nice touch of scoring and ball distribution, which helps take weight off of Oladipo’s shoulders. Joseph, who has one year left on his contract, will likely not be brought back afterwards, and the Pacers should start looking for a replacement soon. Unrestricted free agent Rajon Rondo would be a phenomenal backup guard, using his veteran leadership and ability to create would be a great sigh of relief for Oladipo if the Pacers are able to bring him along.

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About Conor Flynn

Conor is a Sports Management Major at Niagara University. Living in Buffalo, New York, Conor hopes to pursue a career in Media Relations in the near future.

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