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Pacers Preview: McMillan should stagger Turner and Oladipo’s minutes

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The Pacers tore down and rebuilt their entire team this offseason. Indiana added three new starters and 10 new players to their roster.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Indiana Pacers
Nate McMillan is entering his second season as the Indiana Pacers head coach. The Pacers only have two starters returning from last year’s lineup.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The hardest part of being an NBA coach isn’t dealing with diva superstars or eccentric owners, it’s designing a lineup that doesn’t expose their team’s weakness or piss off star players.

Lineup building won’t be new to Pacers head coach Nate McMillan, who is entering his ­­ 13 season as head coach of the . But with one of the most dramatic roster turnovers (three new starters and 8 new additions, if you include Lance Stephenson) the Pacers will have to play a new style of basketball and create new chemistry.

While fans don’t know how player minutes will be divided until the seasons starts, here’s a preview of how much time each player could get in a quarter­ by quarter breakdown.

Indiana Pacers 1st Quarter

1st Quarter Q1: 6:00 left Q2 3:00 left
1st Quarter Q1: 6:00 left Q2 3:00 left
PG Darren Collison PG Cory Joseph PG Cory Joseph
SG Victor Oladipo SG Victor Oladipo SG Lance Stephenson
SF Bojan Bogdanovic SF Glenn Robinson SF Glenn Robinson
PF Thaddeus Young PF Thaddeus Young PF Domantas Sabonis
C Myles Turner C Myles Turner C Myles Turner

If you listened to McMillan at Collison and Bogdanovic’s introductory press conferences, the starting lineup has already been decided. Collison is by far the most experienced guard on Indiana’s roster. However, Bogdanovic only has one season where he was a starting small forward and has never averaged more than 27 minutes per game.

Joseph and Robinson will be the first players to come off the bench. They can provide the other three starters with some much needed size and athleticism on the defensive side.

McMillan will wrap up the quarter by giving Young a much needed breather. He will sub out Oladipo in an attempt to stagger his minutes with Turner. When both Oladipo and Turner are off the floor Indiana will struggle to put points on the board.

Indiana Pacers 2nd Quarter

2nd Quarter Q2: 9:00 left Q2: 6:00 Left
2nd Quarter Q2: 9:00 left Q2: 6:00 Left
PG Cory Joseph PG Darren Collison PG Darren Collison
SG Lance Stephenson SG Victor Oladipo SG Victor Oladipo
SF Bojan Bogdanovic SF Bojan Bogdanovic SF Glenn Robinson
PF Domantas Sabonis PF Domantas Sabonis PF Thaddeus Young
C Al Jefferson C Al Jefferson C Myles Turner

Al Jefferson, despite last season’s poor performance, will play significant minutes this season until T.J. Leaf or Ike Anigbogu can develop into rotation players. If Leaf wins a rotation spot by the end of the season, expect him to receive 8-10 minutes a game at power forward and Domantas Sabonis to shift to the center position.

Bogdanovic will be the only starter to begin the second quarter. He will provide the team with the ability to stretch the floor. The Pacers will struggle to do so both Stephenson and Jefferson on the court. The two bench players should be able to provide a decent pick and roll.

Indiana Pacers 3rd Quarter

3rd Quarter Q3: 6:00 left Q3 3:00 left
3rd Quarter Q3: 6:00 left Q3 3:00 left
PG Darren Collison PG Cory Joseph PG Corey Joseph
SG Victor Oladipo SG Lance Stephenson SG Lance Stephenson
SF Bojan Bogdanovic SF Glenn Robinson SF Glenn Robinson
PF Thaddeus Young PF Thaddeus Young PF Domantas Sabonis
C Myles Turner C Myles Turner C Al Jefferson

The third quarter is where thing’s might get a little wonky. If McMillan is committed to staggering minutes he’ll want to get Oladipo out in the early third quarter on in order to play him the entire fourth quarter.

McMillan’s plan will also be based on his faith in Stephenson. If he looks anything like the 2013 Stephenson we saw his minutes should only increase throughout the season with the opportunity to take over some of the small forward minutes.

Indiana Pacers 4th Quarter

Q4 Q4: 8:00 left
Q4 Q4: 8:00 left
PG Cory Joseph PG Darren Collison
SG Victor Oladipo SG Victor Oladipo
SF Glenn Robinson SF Bojan Bogdanovic
PF Domantas Sabonis PF Thaddeus Young
C Al Jefferson C Myles Turner

Oladipo has to play the entire fourth quarter for Indiana to remain competitive without their bench being annihilated at the start of the fourth. Oladipo’s fourth quarter minutes could vary based on the score of the game.

The speed of Oladipo and Robinson should provide some spark to start the fourth quarter and could be critical in close games. Right now McMillan has Bogdanovic slotted to end the game, but if Robinson develops throughout the season he can earn a spot with the starters to finish out.

Indiana Pacers Overall Minutes

PG SG SF PF C
PG SG SF PF C
Darren Collison -29 Victor Oladipo- 35 Bojan Bogdanovic - 26 Thaddeus Young - 32 Myles Turner - 35
Cory Joseph - 18 Lance Stephenson - 13 Glenn Robinson - 22 Domantas Sabonis - 16 Al Jefferson -13

A couple of Notes to end my article:

Hopefully one of the rookies will take over Jefferson’s minutes by the 50 game mark in season. I think Leaf is the more likely candidate to win rotation minutes.

Stephenson’s minutes will be the most interesting to watch. He probably thinks he deserves more than 13 minutes a game but he hasn’t earned them. Stephenson play over the last two season suggest he’s a below average bench player.

Damien Wilkins, Joe Young, and whoever the Pacers sign into their 15th spot could get garbage time minutes but in most games this is how I think the minutes will be divided up.