Last season, Las Vegas put the Indiana Pacers over/under wins total at 31.5 games. They exceeded everyone’s expectations after critics spent the summer questioning the swap of disgruntled star Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. The Pacers finished with 48-34, and general manager Kevin Pritchard disproved all of his skeptics (there were a lot of them.) This season, expectations are a bit loftier. The Las Vegas over/under this season is 47.5. I don’t think the Pacers meet this number or exceed last season’s win total.
During the 2018 season, the Pacers were unsustainably good in the clutch. In games decided by three points or less, Indiana went a staggering 11-2, and went 3-0 in overtime games. It’s hard to believe the Pacers got worse this off-season, they are better on paper, but I doubt they will be as lucky.
The Pacers added sharpshooter Doug McDermott and play-maker Tyreke Evans, who is coming off his best season as a pro since his rookie season, in July. I question whether Evans is able to sustain his play this coming season. Evans was Rookie of the Year in 2010, but got worse each season thereafter until last season. Evans’ Player Efficiency Rating for his career is 17.6 and last season his PER was 21.1. His three-point field goal percentage last season was 40% despite being a 32% career shooter behind the arc. Sorry Pacer fans, but regression is imminent.
Veteran center Kyle O’Quinn was also picked up this offseason, who is a nice player. With that said, the acquisition is curious considering Sabonis was already slotted as the back-up center where was solid last season. Unless O’Quinn is not going to see much playing time this year, Sabonis will slide over to play more as the back-up power forward. Sabonis played at the four with the Oklahoma City Thunder during his rookie season in 2017 and struggled mightily. He is not fleet of foot and is not suited to play on the perimeter. He stumbled around trying to guard more modern power forwards like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Tobias Harris. Sabonis’ decent production from 2018 will not translate to the 2019 season if he plays more at the power forward.
My final concern is Victor Oladipo. Is Oladipo really this good? He was a top 20 player last season after several seasons of playing as merely a quality starter. Does the rest of the league adapt their defensive schemes to slow down Oladipo like the Cleveland Cavaliers were able to do in the playoffs? I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he comes back even better than last season, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if he is not able to be a top 20 player again this year.
There are several questions surrounding the Pacers this season. And I didn’t even touch on how unsustainable Darren Collison’s 47% three-point shooting is or Myles Turner’s lack of improvement last season. On top of the issues I already addressed, I am ready to take the under on the Indiana Pacers this season.