The Indiana Pacers were projected to be one of the worst teams at the start of the 2022-23 season. To a lot of people's surprise, they were in play-in contention for the majority of the season and fell just short, finishing with a record of 35-47.
For a team that was supposed to be young and rebuilding, they had a very good season compared to their expectations. A few factors that led to this are their up-incoming star point guard, Tyrese Haliburton, electric rookie Benedict Mathurin, along with the veteran presence of Myles Turner and Buddy Hield.
The Pacers organization saw a new opportunity with their young star and realized if they made a couple of good moves they could get better and really challenge for the playoffs. The Pacers quietly had a very good offseason and added really good pieces that should put them in a position to compete for a playoff spot. Let's take a look at their new and improved roster.
Indiana Pacers starting point guard: Tyrese Haliburton
The Pacers acquired Tyrese Haliburton in a midseason trade in 2022 that could possibly change their franchise around. Haliburton had immediately broken through in his first 26 games with the Pacers. Then last season he had a career year averaging 20.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists and 1.6 steals, on 49/40/87 shooting splits.
Haliburton is one of the most talented young guards in the NBA. Standing at 6-foot-5 allows him to read the defense much easier and to use his incredible playing ability, and quickness for his size to gain an edge over his defender.
He is the perfect point guard to have in today's NBA. He can score at all three levels very efficiently, he has become one of the best playmakers in the league, finishing second in assists per game, and he is a very solid defender.
The beauty of Haliburton's game is his ability to make his teammates around him better. With some of their new acquisitions, Haliburton's playmaking ability will make everyone on the court a threat and have one of his teammates be a great second option.
Primary backup point guard: TJ McConnell
TJ McConnell has been a primary backup point guard for his whole career and is the Pacers' only other true point guard outside of Tyrese Haliburton. Last season he averaged 8.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.1 steals on 54/44/85 splits while averaging 20.3 minutes per game.
McConnell is perfect for this Pacers team because he is just a smaller version of Tyrese Haliburton. When McConnell plays when Haliburton is off the court, he'll have a similar impact to Haliburton where the Pacers can still be successful without their star player.
Since Haliburton is versatile enough to play with TJ McConnell, this allows McConnell to become the primary playmaker and Haliburton a scorer which will draw more attention to Haliburton and McConnell can find anyone else who is left open.