The Indiana Pacers won 56 games in route to the number one seed in the East last season.
The Indiana Pacers will not win 56 games this season, and they will certainly not be competing for the number one seed.
It is impossible to forget the late-season collapse from the Pacers last season, but any goodwill regained by their deep playoff run evaporated during an off-season that can only be described as a disaster. First, Indiana inexplicably allowed Lance Stephenson to walk away for what many describe as a “bargain” deal in Charlotte, leaving their offense in need of assistance after a year in which it was already sub-par. Then, the real catastrophe took place, as Paul George went down in a heap during USA Basketball, and as a result, he is expected to miss the entirety of the 2014-2015 season.
Well, this Pacers team isn’t going to be very good. Indiana finished last season as the 22nd-ranked offense in the NBA, scoring just 101.5 points per 100 possessions, and that was with both George and Stephenson in the lineup. Now, the offense is void of any semblance of play-making on the perimeter, as the Pacers acquired only C.J. Miles and Rodney Stuckey to “replace” George and Stephenson. In a vacuum, I actually like the contributions of a player like Miles, but he should be a role player and nothing more, and in Indiana, he is the best wing option on the roster.
Frank Vogel is a very good coach, and the Pacers should still be solid defensively as long as Roy Hibbert is upright and the system is in place. However, Paul George is an elite defender as well, and that cannot be ignored, especially when some of his minutes will be replaced by defensive liabilities like Stuckey and Chris Copeland.
It is tough to envision a scenario where this team can score enough points to compete, and even if they can simply maintain last season’s offensive numbers (which is a stretch), they will almost certainly take a giant leap backwards on the defensive end. It is a lost year for the Pacers, and things could spiral in a hurry.
Projected Record: 27-55, 12th in East