As we all know now, the Indiana Pacers exceeded everyones expectations and were just a couple plays away from clipping LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers from the Playoff picture in a hard-fought seven game series. During the offseason, Indiana has its sights set on getting better and adding pieces to the roster to create more depth than they already have. Thaddeus Young and Cory Joseph both have player-options in which they are both fully expected to pick up for the 2018-19 season.
Before we dig into the specific players, lets look at where Indiana needs to improve as a group. Offensively, the blue and gold were solid as a whole shooting 47.2% from the field (6th), 36.9% from deep (9th), and 77.9% from the charity stripe (11th) while only committing 13.3 turnovers per game (5th). The two areas of play were they are sluggish were in the assist column, where the Pacers only averaged 22 assists per contest, and the number of three-pointers they shoot per game, a slim 24.5 by todays standards.
Defensively, the Pacers need another rim protector or big body in the lane other than Myles Turner. Clearly he is a great shot blocker, but he cannot do it all by himself, there has to be someone off the bench, or someone who co-exists with Myles to help defend the point and wings when they drive to the bucket. Indiana ranked 25th in blocks per game with only 4.1 and roughly half of those could be attributable to Turner himself. An additional big man would also increase the number of rebounds that the Pacers are grabbing off the glass after only posting 42 per game, good for 22nd in the association.
But if they truly want to compete for a championship, Indiana needs another “guy”. Someone who can take the scoring burden off of Victor Oladipo and create shots not only for himself, but the shooters around him. With the current landscape of the NBA, having a number of shooters is a dire need.
Indiana’s Top 5 Free Agent Prospects:
1. Isaiah Thomas – PG
After a circus show in Cleveland and a rebuilding effort in Los Angelas, the 2017-18 season did not go as planned for the mighty Isaiah Thomas. He posted a career year in 2016-17 and led his team to the Eastern Conference Finals as a Celtic. A resurgent year could be in store for him next season after a frustrating campaign this year. Thomas would take a lot of that ball-handling/scoring burden off of Oladipo as I mentioned and he may come at a discounted rate while some see him as used goods already.
2. Julius Randle – PF
Probably the best power forward available unless you would like to argue about Aaron Gordon. Randle proved to front offices his value this year averaging 16.1 PPG and 8 RPG in his fourth NBA season. Many describe him as a “bull in a China shop” when he penetrates to the basket. Tough offensively and defensively is the type of players that Indiana likes. The problem here is that I think he very similar to Sabonis in their style of play, but he will likely garner a hefty pay day.
3. Clint Capela – C
Many forget about Capela due to the fact that he is on the Houston Rockets with so many shooters and headline frontrunners that he gets lost in the mix. He has been the glue to this puzzle this year and has gave James Harden some boosted assist numbers simply from The Beard driving and throwing it up to him last second. He is an exceptional rebounder averaging 10.8 per contest this year. In addition, he is one of the most efficient players in all of the NBA.
4. Jabari Parker – SF
After suffering a tough ACL injury, Parker worked his way back into the lineup but did not fully agree with the amount of playing time he was receiving in Milwaukee. Parker could be an ideal fit for Indiana with his plus defense, big body, and shooting touch. Some forget that he average 20 PPG over 51 games last year before getting injured.
5. Avery Bradley – SG
Just a gamer, that is what Avery Bradley is. A guy who goes out and competes night in, night out. He is a tough-nosed, strong defender with solid 3-point shooting capabilities. Bradley could be a solid scorer coming off the bench behind Victor which would give him a great opportunity to have the ball in his hands a lot. His time is Boston is where he developed that strong will for the game and anyone who played for Brad Stevens is a great add in my opinion.
What free agents do you see coming to Indiana during the offseason? Would you like a Paul George return? Kevin Pritchard has already answered questions regarding Paul, saying that he has to fit us and not the other way around. Paul found out this year that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and might find himself clawing his way back to Indiana.
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