The Indiana Pacers have not made the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, which include head coach Rick Carlisle’s first two years in his current stint with the team.
Since last season, the Pacers have gotten a lot younger. They increased their win total by 10 from 2021/22 to 2022/23 and based on their offseason moves and the improvement of their young players over the past couple seasons, they are in for another jump this season.
|2022/23 Indiana Pacers||Record: 35-47|
|Result: Missed playoffs|
|To win the NBA Championship:||+20000|
|To win Eastern Conference:||+10000|
Haliburton is one the most promising young guards in the NBA.
Traded from the Kings to the Pacers midway through the 2021/22 season, Haliburton has quickly found a home in Indy and played his best basketball last season, when he was named an East All-Star reserve.
The 23-year-old averaged career highs in points (20.7) and assists (10.4 – 2nd in NBA) per game in 2022/23, finishing sixth in Most Improved Player voting.
Hield has been one of the NBA’s premier three-point shooters since he entered the league back in 2016.
He ranks second in the NBA with 1,705 threes made since 2016/17, ranking behind only Steph Curry. During that span, he’s shot 40.2% from behind the arc, an incredible percentage given his volume.
Yet Hield has never made an All-Star team or played in the playoffs. Can 2023/24 be the year Buddy finally gets the recognition he deserves?
Bruce Brown (G) Denver
Obi Toppin (F) New York
Jarace Walker (F) Draft
Goga Bitadze (C) Washington
Chris Duarte (G) Sacramento
James Johnson (F) Free agent
The Indiana Pacers begin the season when they host the Washington Wizards – who finished with the same record as the Pacers last season – on Oct. 25.
The Pacers’ second game of the season is a Central Division matchup away against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 28. Their next game is against another divisional opponent, the Chicago Bulls.
The Cavs travel to Indiana for a Nov. 3 game. On Nov. 9, the Milwaukee Bucks visit the Pacers.
Indiana then has a home-and-home with the Philadelphia 76ers on Nov. 12 in Philly and Nov. 14 in Indianapolis.
The Pacers made solid additions over the summer, signing Bruce Brown as free agent, trading for Obi Toppin, and making a draft-day trade for Jarace Walker.
Brown joins from the reigning NBA Champions, the Denver Nuggets, and based on the salary he agreed to with Indiana, he’ll be a full-time starter for the first time in three seasons.
As a guard-wing combo, Brown fits in well with the Pacers’ roster that is full of versatile players.
Walker, a product of the University of Houston, was not a stat sheet stuffer in college with per-game averages of 11.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. But he showed in Summer League that he has quick hands on defense and can facilitate an offense, draw defenders away from teammates, and find an open man as well as grab rebounds.
At 6’8”, the rookie will likely fit into the team as a power forward or small-ball center, similar to fellow new addition Toppin. Walker is +3300 to win Rookie of the Year, the joint-eighth-shortest odds.
Add in potential improvements from Jalen Smith, Andrew Nembhard, and 2022/23 All-Rookie First Team member Bennedict Mathurin - who has the 11th-shortest odds for 6th Man of the Year at +2500 - and the Pacers should see an increase in wins for the third consecutive season.
The Pacers’ starting five projects to be Tyrese Haliburton at point guard, Buddy Hield at shooting guard, Bruce Brown at small forward, Walker at power forward, and Turner at center.
Only Haliburton and Turner started in every game they played, so expect Carlisle to rotate his lineup. The power forward spot will likely be contested with Walker, Toppin, Jalen Smith, and Isaiah Jackson all able to play there.
A playoff berth should be in the Pacers’ sights, especially with teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks – both of whom finished above Indiana last season – staying stagnant or getting worse.
The Pacers are +20000 to win the NBA Championship this season, the ninth-longest odds in that market. Their over/under for wins in 2023/24 is 37.5. The Pacers won 35 games in 2022/23.