Preview of the NBA 2021-22 season over the Indiana Pacers. Data, results from the previous season, a look at their squad and future free agents, the objectives of the course, the player to watch and a forecast on the franchise.
- Market movements: Signing of Torrey Craig and renewal of TJ McConnell (all movements here).
- Backcourt: Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. McConnell, Duane Washington, DeJon Jarreau, Caris LeVert, Jeremy Lamb, Chris Duarte y Nate Hinton.
- Frontcourt: T.J. Warren, Justin Holiday, Edmon Sumner, Torrey Craig, Domantas Sabonis, Oshae Brissett, Kelan Martin, Myles Turner, Goga Bitadze e Isaiah Jackson.
This is how they face the season
With a breath of illusion from the bench. After a single season by Nate Bjorkgren, whose lack of understanding with the squad ended up costing him the job, an old acquaintance arrives in Indiana: Rick Carlisle. The veteran coach (champion with Dallas Mavericks in 2011) has raised high expectations among fans; And the thing is that after a course that meant something like tossing a coin, now a prestigious and proven NBA coach is at the helm.
Carlisle had very good years in Indiana, and just as he remembers it. To be exact, he was in charge of the Pacers between 2003 and 2007. Those were the times of Reggie Miller, Jermaine O’Neal and Ron Artest, who even got to be named Defender of the Year in the 2003-04 season. It was precisely that season that saw Indiana reach the best balance in its history (61-21), to later fall in the Eastern Conference finals 4-2 against the Detroit Pistons (they finished champions).
That is Carlisle’s cover letter, one with which the objective will be to return to the playoffs. Indiana is one of those teams that runs away from the tanking and that they always try to compete with what they have; so much so that of the last 11 seasons they have been in the postseason in up to nine of them. It has not given them to get closer to the ring, but it has given them so that rivals understand that it is never easy to beat them; and it is that in their court they tend to dominate even in their worst moments.
We have the goal, but … do you have what it takes to achieve it? Following the measured line of previous courses, the Pacers have gone through the market this summer without making a sound. Understanding that they have a roster balanced, they have practically not moved to maintain the same references. Malcolm Brogdon will take the lead and Domantas Sabonis will be the boss in the paint. They are perhaps the basis of an ensemble in which Caris LeVert is expected to put the final note. The guard arrived last season transferred from Brooklyn and quickly (after overcoming a kidney problem) he emerged as one of the team leaders to average 20.7 points, 4.9 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 32.9 minutes per night.
The three of them will be the ones who carry the weight of a group in which the situation of TJ Warren is particularly worrying. Plantar fasciitis weighed him down at the end of the 2019-20 season – it wasn’t enough to prevent him from becoming one of the stars of the Orlando Bubble during the seeding games– and allowed him to play only four games in 2020-21. It was expected that he was fully recovered by this time, but the Pacers announced in early September that everything was slower than expected and that it remains as an indefinite loss … It is a blow for planning, especially since those of Indianapolis do not have many important scorer-level pieces.
If everyone were healthy at some point in the season, we could see a starting five made up of Brogdon, LeVert, Warren, Sabonis and Turner, although the latter has been listed as available for trade in more than a few reports. The case of Myles Turner is peculiar. By numbers, 12.6 points (33.5% in triples), 6.5 rebounds and 3.4 blocks in 2020-21, it seems that his position should not be in danger, but equally there are doubts about whether it would be better. leave the painting occupied solely by Sabonis. Carlisle will answer this, although everything indicates that Indiana will start one more season with both on track.
The props have been elucidated, what does raise doubts is the bottom of the wardrobe. Indiana, a team that has historically based its strength on defense, has guys like TJ McConnell or newcomer Torrey Craig, but they are not players who a priori are going to solve a game for you from the bench. Following that line of seriousness they have been made since the draft with Chris Duarte. The 24-year-old arrives with the vitola of a good defender and intelligence on the court, qualities that are highly valued in Indianapolis. According to information from journalist J. Michael de Indianapolis Star, in the organization they have the impression that he will be important in Carlisle’s rotation and that he could even emerge as one of the leaders of the locker room.
Will we see these Pacers to their full potential? That is perhaps the big question. Last year we couldn’t have them all on the floor, and the next year they start without Warren — we don’t know for how long. Little can be said about work in the offices – it has been almost non-existent – so we have to look at the bench, a Rick Carlisle on whom they have bet everything so that the turbulent previous season is in a slip.
The player to watch
Caris LeVert. Much of the good (or bad) that happens in these Pacers will depend on him. Leaving Brooklyn behind and staying in shape after his kidney ailment, they will undoubtedly give him the keys to the attack to make and break against rival defenses. Indiana is a team that tends to play together, but if you have someone like LeVert who can create his points, you can’t miss it. We will not launch the bells to the flight assuring that he will be All-Star in 2021-22 – it depends on many factors -, but he is in the right context to fight it. Seeing him averaging over 25 points a night wouldn’t be a surprise. At 27 he is in full mental and physical maturity. This must be your moment. It is time for LeVert to show if he can take another step in his basketball or if he has already peaked.
NBA preview 2021-22 Indiana Pacers, prediction
Elio Martínez, director of Trends Wide, leaves a personal and subjective forecast on what he thinks each franchise will do during the season in the NBA 2021-22 preview.
The main reason I can’t bet against Indiana is Carlisle. With such a coach, a franchise that does not get used to being carried away cannot end with a bad balance. There are quality players, there is a prestigious coach and there is a serious board, so what we all hope is that the Pacers are around a positive mark after 82 games. Ninth East is my prediction.
Previous team analyzed: Golden State Warriors. Next Team: Memphis Grizzlies.
(Cover photo: Andy Lyons / Getty Images)