With the NBA Preseason officially underway, we will be previewing all 30 teams. In 2023-24 the Indiana Pacers will be looking to build off the success they had last year. After going 35-47 and finishing as the 11 seed in the Eastern Conference, the combination of Tyrese Haliburton and Rick Carlisle has this team back on the rise. The upside is that they finished the season on a 26-22 run with both Haliburton and Myles Turner playing. It was a step in the right direction, finishing 10 wins better than the year before. With Haliburton leading the offense, the Pacers finished No. 21 in offensive rating (113.8)–nearly two points better than its mark in 2021-22, which ranked No. 18–though finished with a minus-3.3 NET Rating.
They entered the offseason with the intent to build a better roster around Haliburton and Turner. They want a roster that can get them back to the playoffs. The moves they made were actually good. They drafted Jarace Walker No. 8 overall, who is the perfect fit alongside Turner. They also drafted Ben Sheppard with the No. 26 overall pick.
The former IMG prospect is the perfect fit for the Pacers. Not only will he complement the playmaking and spacing, but he can defend upwards of 3-4 positions as well as hold down the fort in the paint if needed. After his performance in the Pacers first pre-season game, there’s reason to believe that he’ll be a good fit for years to come.
The 27-year-old is going to be extremely versatile for the Indiana Pacers and could be the missing piece to help propel them back to the playoffs in 2023-24. After spending one season with the Denver Nuggets, he signed with Indiana on a two-year deal. Brown can play the 1-3 and some nights be able to stretch to the 4.
After being stuck behind Julius Randle, Toppin was not given the chance to show what he’s fully capable of with Indiana. Last year he averaged 7.4 points and 2.8 rebounds. Add him to the pick-and-roll with Haliburton and it could be a thing of beauty with Toppins hops. His above-the-rim threat is something that the team has been missing.
Although, the Pacers have enough to now fill what Duarte brought. Losing him for depth might hurt down the stretch. A proven scorer that can play the 2 and 3. Though they didn’t lose him for nothing, they got some future second-round picks out of the deal.
The combination of Walker, Brown and Toppin will fill the role and provide more than Brissett did. No matter how he did on the court, Brissett brought energy and was a fun guy to be around.
Starting lineup: Haliburton, Buddy Hield (for now), Brown, Toppin, Turner
Hield has been thrown around in trade rumors and at some point might not be in Indiana, but as long he’s there he’ll be a starter. He’s also coming off a career-best season, efficiency-wise. Hield is one of the best shooters in the NBA, some team will come and pay big for him. Likewise, the Pacers have a very balanced starting unit to surround him for now.
As of now, this bench unit will feature two potential starters. Both Maturin and Nesmith could be X-factors for this second unit. The latter could be in line for an extension once Hield gets moved. While the former ranked fourth in Rookie of the Year voting. Both are potential building blocks.
The Indiana Pacers have a good future in 2023-24 and beyond. The building blocks and group of guys that they should build around are there. I would expect the Pacers to finish with 42-40 record, making the play-in but losing out there due to the lack of playoff experience.
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