Indiana Pacers: 3 Reasons Why They Can Win the Eastern Conference

Tyreke Evans, Memphis Grizzlies, Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Reason #1: More Perimeter Playmaking

Teams can’t have enough players who can create for themselves and others. Last season, Indiana had some of that, but not enough consistently outside of Oladipo. According to Pacers.com’s Mark Montieth, Darren Collison led the league in three-point percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio, which was “a feat believed to be accomplished just once before in league history.”

Collison was very steady for Indy, as he had 12.4 points and 5.3 assists per game. Indiana also had solid contributions from energy combo guard Lance Stephenson, who was never shy with the ball. He was a solid driver to the rim and had good willingness to kick out to shooters. Nonetheless, Stephenson had his share of questionable moments with the ball. Evans is the prize of the Pacers’ summer, though.

He will enable Oladipo to play off the ball a bit more. With his strength and athleticism, he should also be able to get big Myles Turner and wings McDermott and Bojan Bogdanovic some easy baskets. Evans is a player who doesn’t need a ton of quality pieces around him to make things happen. He has improved his versatility as a scorer the last few seasons, too. Last year, he placed in the 83rd percentile as a scorer in isolation, in the 74th percentile in spot-ups, and in the 86th percentile in scoring situations as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, per Synergy Sports Technology.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv2lvtGYPPo

Against the best teams in the East, Evans should be able to carry the perimeter load more, both with Oladipo in or out. When Oladipo was off the floor last season, the Pacers’ net rating dropped to minus-7.3, per NBA.com. When he was on the floor, it was plus-6.4. It’s not as though Collison and backup point man Cory Joseph don’t make others around them better, they’re just not as capable as Evans’ offensively.

In the postseason, Oladipo was up-and-down. Cleveland often blitzed him in pick-and-roll situations and took the ball out of his hands. That bogged down Indiana’s offense, even against a lackluster defensive team like Cleveland.

Indiana’s offense should have more layers next season with potentially five legitimate pick-and-roll playmakers in Collison, Oladipo, Evans, Joseph and even first-round pick Aaron Holiday. With a team that projects to have multiple perimeter threats who can shoot it from all three levels (unlike Stephenson) off the bounce on the floor next year, the Pacers will be much harder to defend. As a result, Oladipo will have more room to get a burst of explosiveness.

Secondly, Indiana’s young frontcourt rotation is primed for a big leap.

Next Up: Frontcourt Development

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