photo via flickr
Indiana was the surprise team of the year last season with an emerging star found in Victor Oladipo, head coach Nate McMillan proving himself once again, and an ensemble of role players that gave LeBron and the Cavs a run for their money in the playoffs. Coming off of a 48-34 season they were able to snag the five seed at the end of the regular season. Indiana is poised for more success and should be in the middle of the playoff hunt yet again.
Victor Oladipo finally found a system that works for him as he had a breakout season for this third team in five years. Oladipo was an All-Star, won Most Improved Player of the Year, and was selected to both the All-Defense First Team and the All-NBA Third Team. At age 26, he's in the prime of his career and should be able to play at this level for the next 3-5 seasons. With more tape on him as the number one option on a team, he most likely will see some tougher defensive schemes this year so we shouldn't expect a jump in his statistics, but you shouldn't see a decline either and that will be enough for the Pacers.
Indiana had a relatively quiet off-season but made moves that can impact their team in a positive manner. Former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans was signed to the Pacers on a one-year $12 million deal. Evans will most likely come off the bench and can give solid minutes at the one through three positions. Evans a jack-of-all-trades type player who can give you a little of everything on the court. The Pacers were also able to sign Doug McDermott and Kyle O'Quinn who will improve their bench and depth as well.
This Pacers team isn't going to bring in a large national audience, and they aren't "exciting" by modern NBA standards. However, if you love to see a group of guys giving their all on the court and battling for a full 48 minutes and grinding out wins? Look no further. The Pacers will give you all that and more through all 82 games and should be able to get 45-50 wins in the East.