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Vegas Win Total Projection: 35.5 (VegasInsider.com)
2014 Record: 38-44
One of the NBA's most changed teams in the offseason, the Indiana Pacers. They go from having a front-court with David West and Roy Hibbert to getting a rookie center in Myles Turner and guards Monta Ellis and Joseph Young. I expect this team to work out the kinks of having potentially 3 new starters and perform in the middle of the pack of the Eastern Conference. I would like to see the Pacers hit 40 wins, but I think that's optimistic, without knowing when Paul George will be back to 100% and the new young players trying to gel.
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Paul George is most likely going to be the go-to-guy on this team. Although he's coming off a broken leg, we saw spurts of him getting back to his old self in the latter stages of last season. In 6 games last season, his minutes increased, play continued to get more polished. I expect to see a rejuvenated Paul George get him into an everyday play.
Monta Ellis gets this crown. Ellis, 29, has continued to go down hill in his shooting from inside and outside the arc. Once a near 50 percent field goal shooter, he's gradually moved down to below 45 percent, and with the Pacers has a lot to prove. Even with that, I think the Pacers will try and use him in more of a veteran role, where he is moving the younger players along. I don't expect him to be a good fantasy play in most settings because of the Indiana Pacers outlook this season and beyond (going younger).
Joseph Young out of the University of Oregon is one of two gems on this team. Joe was a prolific scorer in one of the nation's most underrated basketball schools. He came into Summer league as one of the high-point men and someone who I think has huge potential in this league. Mostly a scorer, but Joe can hold his own on the defensive end of the court. His recent performances in preseason, made the Pacers give him a 4-year contract for the 2nd-round pick. Along with this, he was ranked as the “Steal of the Draft" in the annual rookie survey with most of the votes.
The other gem is another guy out of this most recent NBA Draft. Myles Turner, a guy from Texas, averaged almost a double-double in college, he looks to be a great steal. He was another player who had a good Summer League showing and proved some of his doubters wrong. I expect him to be a starter, someone who can be relied on as a formidable, cheap, option in the front-court.I've heard comparisons to LaMarcus Aldridge and while I think that may be farfetched, it gives you an idea of what some experts think.
The Pacers will most likely be in a similar situation as last year, but certainly not because they have the same team. Last season, it was about P.G. being injured and other role guys being hurt. This season its about getting their young players to gel and grow, so I wouldn't be surprised if they take a step back to move two steps forward.Team defense may end up going down without David West or Hibbert, although I don't think Myles Turner is much of a drop off from Roy Hibbert. But without a guy like David West, they may lose a little grit and toughness on the court. I expect to see this team on the outside looking in. Somewhere in the 8-10 seed range, but it wouldn't surprise me to see them hit an 7, 8 seed in the East.
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