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What are the best and worst case scenarios for the Pacers this season?

Where we alter the definition of ‘best’ and ‘worst’ for the Pacers.

NBA: Preseason-New York Knicks at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

What is the ‘Best Case’ scenario for the Pacers this season?

It seems strange to consider any best case scenario for the Pacers involving more losses than wins, but here we are. In fact, if we’re being honest the best, best, best scenario would be no wins and 82 losses, just to give the team their best chance to draft Victor Wembanyama next summer. However, since the top, er, bottom three teams all have the same chance, there’s room for winning one in every four games, but if the Pacers are going to lose, the best case would be to finish 30th in the league, just in case. Oh, and in doing so, give loads of minutes to their young players, including top rookie Bennedict Mathurin who will be a first-team All-Rookie selection. Also, no major injuries to Tyrese Haliburton, Mathurin or any of the young players starting to form the teams go-forward core.

Also, if we’re maxing out the best case here, all of those losses will likely need a trade or two among the veterans including Myles Turner, Buddy Hield, even TJ McConnell if the future return is right. After gutting the roster, the Pacers can call in Lance Stephenson, who has been working out across town at Jeff Teague’s place to keep the masses entertained for the remainder of the year.

What is the ‘Worst Case’ scenario for the Pacers this season?

The worst case scenario this year would see the Pacers get off to a strong start with Myles Turner and Buddy Hield not only playing well but playing heavy minutes. The surprising short-term start would have the Fieldhouse rocking, but may also have Herb Simon reconsidering the full rebuild right before it gets real. Based on the current roster with the veterans on the roster, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton ran a statistical prediction for the Pacers can came up with 38 wins. Sniffing that number of wins and a play-in spot in the process would be a huge log in the road for any rebuild effort. The upcoming draft has loads of talent at the top and additional quality players throughout, where the Pacers will have an additional two picks. But they need that one top five (OR ONE!) pick to fill a talent need in the same way Bennedict Mathurin has so far in preseason.

So, worst case would be a 38 win season, with vets playing heavy rotation minutes while Mathurin and other young players maintain a reserve rotation role with limited minutes. Oof, that sounds awful.

What is the ‘Most Likely’ scenario for the Pacers this season?

OK, let’s get real. I think it is most likely that the Pacers can be an entertaining team to watch this year while also not winning much more than their worst case scenario. But as their preseason win over the Knicks showed, the young talent can be extremely entertaining regardless of the scoreboard. They just happened to end up on top after a wild fourth quarter, but those types of runs won’t be the regular. Still, it seems reasonable that they will win games that aren’t expected just through effort against teams that may think they have a night off (or are resting players).

So a team finishing with around 25 wins is most likely. A trade at some point before the trade deadline, swapping veteran players for youth and/or picks is also most likely. Tyrese Haliburton learning to lead this team and make other players like Bennedict Mathurin, Chris Duarte and Jalen Smith shine is also most likely. Mathurin becoming a legit Rookie of the Year candidate, is also most likely. The kid is a dog and has plenty of NBA game in him already. He will continue to learn and grow from his experience and it will be a pleasure to watch.

What are you most excited about going into the season?

As referenced above, the most exciting thing to look forward to for the Pacers is the development of Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin. I like the idea of Mathurin starting the season coming off the bench to give him a primary scoring role among the reserve unit. Whether he starts or not eventually this season, I’m excited to see his minutes increase which should have him teaming up with Haliburton more and more this year. On paper, it appears they will complement each other quite well on the court. Can’t wait to see that theory put to the test in actual games this season.

Roster Additions: Bennedict Mathurin, Andrew Nembhard, Kendall Brown, Daniel Theis, James Johnson

Roster Losses: Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, Lance Stephenson, T.J. Warren, Duane Wshington Jr.

Last season record: 25-57 Last season conference ranking: 13th

Last season offensive rating: 113.6

Last season defensive rating: 117.1

Pacers won/loss record prediction: 24-58

Pacers conference seeding prediction: 16th