Another summer has come and gone and in two weeks another NBA season and the Indiana Pacers 50th anniversary season begin. The Pacers had an active offseason and are ready to chase down their 2nd NBA Finals appearance and possible 1st championship. What are the expectations of the Pacers this year. What follows will be a outlook from my prespective on the 2016-17 Indiana Pacers.
This season will be the 50th year anniversary of the Pacers being established in 1967. The Pacers will wear a commemorative patch on the their jerseys this year and will have several promotional nights during the season that will draw fans from all ages to Indianapolis.
Outlook : 51-21 2nd place in Central Division and Eastern Conference
There is alot of hope and promise in this Pacers team. With the continual success of superstar Paul George, the growth of Myles Turner, the addition of Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young, and Al Jefferson, this Pacers team will be fun to watch and expect several national television games throughout this year and the years to follow.
One interesting factor this season will be how new coach Nate McMillan leads this team and his style of play. The Pacers fired Frank Vogel back in June and went with a in house pick of Nate McMillan.
Where this team will have to growth and look for scoring is the 2nd unit. There are going to be moments where this 2nd unit WILL have to find scores. The Pacers signed Al Jefferson to lead that charge on the 2nd unit and be that low post presence. The Pacers have several veterans on this 2nd unit which is a first in several years. Aaron Brooks, Rodney Stuckey, Al Jefferson, CJ Miles.
The Pacers will go as far as superstar Paul George leads them. George said he wants to be the NBA MVP and will have to play that way if he wants Indiana in the NBA Finals. I believe PG will continue to grow and only get better. I believe he will mature more (which lacked at times late in games) and be that last second go to player and not pass up that last second shot.
How will rookie draft pick George Niang fit in to this Pacers roster? I think it will be a slow growth for George Niang and expect him to work his way into the rotation for more minutes in January and February when key players need extra rest before the playoffs start.
Monta Ellis will be the wildcard on this team. He can be that go to scorer when PG is double teamed, but it’s his decision making that will test the Pacers. There were several key plays where Monta didn’t take care of the ball in the playoff matchup against Toronto. Monta hasn’t always been known as a shooter but will have to hit the open shot when it comes open.
The new addition of hometown kid Jeff Teague will add finally a true point guard that the Pacers have missed since Jamal Tinsley. Teague is a proven scorer and can break down a defense and lead a fast break. I expect big thing from Teague and a contract extension at the end of the season to keep him around.
CJ Miles is one player where if he doesn’t get it together and hit his shot, he could be on the move around the trade deadline. CJ didn’t play well last year and had a rough shooting year averaging 36% from 3 point range.
Joe Young is raw and has looked good in the preseason. I see him and Brooks doing the backup duties from Teague and if Young grows and develop, he will dig into Aaron Brooks minutes.
Overall – I expect this Pacers team to battle and be the 2nd best Eastern Conference team this year and head to Eastern Conference Finals. Will they beat Cleveland ?? Not likely but compete yes. That is something for them to build on and would be a successful season.
Thank God Basketball is Back !!
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