Every NBA team’s biggest question mark for the 2021-22 season

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images /
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Rick Carlisle, Indiana Pacers
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Indiana Pacers: How many wins is Rick Carlisle worth?

The Pacers’ roster remains mostly intact heading into the 2021-22 campaign. Indiana’s largest offseason acquisition is actually on the sidelines. Bringing in Rick Carlisle to coach the team could transform Indiana’s short-term prospects.

Carlisle may not have been able to push Luka Doncic deep into the postseason, but he’s a clear floor raiser for the Pacers. Expect Indiana’s defense to quickly shoot up the NBA rankings next season. Carlisle’s innovative offensive schemes should also allow this veteran group more open looks than they’ve enjoyed in recent seasons.

The question isn’t whether or not Carlisle is an improvement. Instead, the right query is just how many wins the well-respected sideline man is worth. It’s safe to assume he’ll boost Indiana’s win total by a couple of games, but there’s a cogent argument to be made that he could be worth at least five victories to the Pacers during the regular season.

That’s a massive swing in what should be a highly competitive Eastern Conference playoff race. The Pacers don’t have the star power to be a top-3 seed, but they could at least threaten for homecourt advantage if things break right under their new coach.