2015-16 NBA Record: 45-37
Additions: Jeff Teague (traded from Atlanta Hawks), Al Jefferson (Charlotte Hornets), Thaddeus Young (traded from Brooklyn Nets), Aaron Brooks (Chicago Bulls), Jeremy Evans (traded from Dallas Mavericks), Georges Niang (draft), Kevin Seraphin (New York Knicks)
Subtractions: Ty Lawson (Sacramento Kings), Solomon Hill (New Orleans Pelicans), Jordan Hill (Minnesota Timberwolves), Ian Mahinmi (Washington Wizards)
Projected Starting Line-up:
PG – Jeff Teague
SG – Monta Ellis
SF – Paul George
PF – Thaddeus Young
C – Myles Turner
Larry Bird wanted a change in direction for this side, asking for a more up-tempo offense. He added impact veterans Jeff Teague, Al Jefferson and Thaddeus Young, but hired Nate McMillan as head coach, who likes to run a slow offense like his predecessor Frank Vogel. Paul George is an elite player in the league and the addition of better players around him should allow Indiana to compete in the East once again.
Paul George is an elite two-way player coming off a very strong season, where he posted a career-high in points per game and was in the conversation for MVP. His versatility and athleticism on offense, as well as his long arms, huge hands and quick feet on defense should put him in the MVP conversation once again this year. Jeff Teague is an immediate upgrade over George Hill and was an All-Star two years ago. His play-making ability and quickness should help improve this offense. Myles Turner had a strong rookie campaign, where he worked his way into the starting lineup by the end of the season. He’s a rim protector with a bright future and the Pacers will be hoping he can make another leap this year. The addition of Al Jefferson will help Turner’s development, as Jefferson is one of the top low-post scorers in the league, even though he’s on the back end of his career at this point. Thaddeus Young is a stretch forward who can score like a small forward but can defend big men. He’s bounced around Minnesota and Brooklyn over the past few years, but last season he was one of only three players who averaged 15 points, nine rebounds and 1.5 steals last year. He’s a perfect fit for a team like the Pacers who needs versatility. CJ Miles is a great locker room presence and has his occasional big games off the bench, with the ability to start if needed. Aaron Brooks is a strong backup point guard to have behind Jeff Teague.
The loss of Frank Vogel will have a huge effect on Indiana’s defense, but they did this so they can have more scoring. The additions of Teague and Young will certainly help this, but is Nate McMillan the right coach for their offense? Many are expecting this side to compete in the East and I certainly think so as well. In fact, I would say that this side can grab a top-4 seed and Paul George will be in the MVP conversation all season long.
Prediction: 2nd in Central Division