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What Pacers Need in NBA Offseason

Indiana Not Far From Contending

While the Indiana Pacers finished the 2022-23 season tied for the seventh-worst record in the NBA at 35-47, that is not an accurate representation. Sportsbooks had the Pacers win total line set at 24.5 in the preseason, with expectations extremely low. Indiana would dramatically over-perform that, even spending time in fourth place in the Eastern Conference the early months of the season.

For the early part of the season, the Pacers were a solid team to include in NBA picks, because they kept winning, to most people’s surprise. Tyrese Haliburton would lead the way, becoming a first-time All-Star, elevating both his game and the others around him.

What Pacers Need in NBA Offseason
Tyrese Haliburton #0 of the Indiana Pacers | Tim nwachukwu/getty images/afp

However, the NBA betting lines quickly shifted when Haliburton got hurt. The rest of the team could not hold up, especially when Myles Turner also missed some time.

The success of the Pacers last season makes NBA predictions for their 2023 off-season a little easier. The core is set up, so the players Indiana will pursue have to fit right into the already set hierarchy.

2022-23 Season Record: 35-47

Status of Coach: Rick Carlisle. His job is safe after last season.

Positions Of Need For the Pacers

  • Power Forward
  • Defensive Forward
  • Secondary Creator

Possible Free Agency Plan

In the last offseason, there were many concerns about Turner possibly leaving the team after contract extension talks didn’t get anywhere. As the season progressed, it was clear that Haliburton and Turner were a great pairing. The Pacers broke NBA news in the middle of the season, officially extending the center.

That signing of Turner cleared up a massive hole that could have been a problem in the 2023 off-season. Instead, Indiana has the luxury of looking at the edges of its team in free agency. The two biggest needs are size in the frontcourt, solid wing defenders, and a secondary creator. The Pacers already have enough shooting on the roster, especially with Buddy Hield on the team. But while the other guards on the roster can shoot, they lack the size and defensive versatility.

The Pacers have some cap space to work with, but seeing how Haliburton might want an extension soon makes it a little more complicated. Still, they want to have legit NBA playoff odds for 2023-24. Indiana might sign veterans that can anchor the perimeter defense and lead a young team.

A player who fits that mold almost too well is Jae Crowder, but he may have a lot of teams calling him that could offer better chances of reaching the NBA Finals. Jeff Green is another name, but he might not sign with the Pacers for the same reason.

Sneakily, Georges Niang could be a perfect match. He is a solid defender, a decent 3-point shooter, and will likely be cheap. Furthermore, the Boston Celtics seem fine with letting Grant Williams walk. This would be a more costly solution but probably the best fit.

First-Round Lottery Odds

  • Odds For First Overall Pick – 6.8%
  • Odds For A Top Four Pick – 29.4%
  • The Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics First-Round Picks

Possible Draft Plan

While cap space might put the Pacer’s possible free-agent acquisitions in a bind, the draft is where the team can boost the roster. While Victor Wembanyama is the prize of the draft lottery, which will take place on May 16, there are many options for the Pacers.

If the Pacers find themselves within the top three after the draft lottery, Wembanyama is the obvious target, with most analysts seeing him as a generational talent. However, Brandon Miller is not a bad option. His size may not be ready to play the four in the NBA, but his shooting and playmaking ability could fit perfectly into the team.

Next, the Thompson twins, Amen and Ausar, would fit well too. Like Miller, they don’t have the size to play down low but offer a second ball handler and playmaker to help Haliburton. They are also solid defenders, using their length and incredible athleticism. They aren’t the best shooters, but the Pacers’ current roster can make up for that.

Outside of Wembanyama, who is the perfect fit for every team in the lottery, Jarace Walker may be the best option for the Pacers. He is a versatile defender and is a lot more physically ready to play power forward in the NBA. Walker could work well with Turner on defense while also being a great pick-and-roll partner for Haliburton.

Taylor Hendricks could be the final option if the lottery does not favor Indiana. Like Walker, Hendricks has the size to play alongside Turner, plus he is a bigger threat from behind the arc. He is also an active defender but has minimal playmaking upside, which would be his weakness.

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