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Looking ahead to Pacers vs. Wizards and what others are saying

The Pacers season opener matches two teams looking to build, but on different timelines.

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Washington Wizards v Indiana Pacers Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Is it just me, or are the Pacers getting more preseason recognition than they have in years? Maybe not since the season prior to Paul George’s injury? Even the preseason expectations for that team were not real strong.

This year, the winning expectations are nowhere near strong, but the interest in the team is the young talent the Pacers are assembling. Rookie Bennedict Mathurin has been a revelation playing on the court with other NBA player, so the intrigue of his play, along with Tyrese Haliburton and the idea that these guys are a great start to a rebuild, has many NBA experts taking notice.

Mathurin’s play and narratives surrounding his upcoming season have seen the rook jump up the odds boards for Rookie of the Year betting. DraftKings has Mathurin at +550 to win ROY, equal to Keegan Murray and behind Paolo Banchero who is favored at +180. Prior to preseason, Mathurin’s odds were double that number.

All the hype for the young guys proves that you have to be great or rebuilding to be interesting in the NBA. Scrappy bunch in the middle of the pack with a low ceiling? Yawn.

The Pacers face the Washington Wizards on opening night, a team that appears closer to that deadly middle than not, which may depend on the long-term status of Bradley Beal. The team’s leader and top threat signed a 5-year, $250ish million extension this summer which on the surface seems like a solid commitment from both sides. But as we are well too aware of here in Indiana, the fun just begins when a player gets his big bag.

Regardless, right now Beal gives the Wiz a threat who has lit up the Pacers in the past to lead a lineup with Kirstaps Porzingis, Kyle Kuzma and Daniel Gafford off the bench that will challenge the young front court of the Pacers. Rookie Johnny Davis has struggled offensively which seems strange for any locals that saw his act in Mackey Arena last year, but for now he remains a reserve option at best for the Wiz.

So here we are, waiting to see the young Pacers begin their journey and just wondering how high a ceiling the team can develop over the next year or three. To get fully prepped for the season opener we present a special links post today with season previews from around the media landscape along with some audio of interest over the past few days.

Before running practice, Rick Carlisle spent part of his last morning before the season opener talking with Kevin Bowen and Jake Query. They hit on all the pressing issues heading into the season along with Carlisle’s musical interests.

Kevin O’Connor on The Mismatch had Bennedict Mathurin winning Rookie of the Year as his first semi-bold predictions. Verno made a good case against it due to the team’s projected record, so we shall see. Regardless, KOC held strong that Mathurin’s preseason was ‘incredibly encouraging’ for how he can play in the NBA. Check it out below starting around the 45 minute mark.

A recent Lowe Post podcast with guest John Hollinger also spent the opening ten minutes bantering about the Pacers which also had Hollinger touting Mathurin for ROY. Of course, the caveat to the argument was what the Pacers might be doing in February with regard to ‘injuries’ and pushing to win games. Here’s a link: The Lowe Post w/ John Hollinger

Check out the preview links:

NBA Central Division 2022-23 preview: Storylines, players to watch, biggest questions, predictions - The Athletic

2022-23 Season Preview: Indiana Pacers | NBA.com

NBA Season Preview 2022-23: Excitement builds in some unlikely places - SBNation.com

The 2022-23 NBA Entrance Survey - The Ringer

2022-23 NBA Season Preview: A Team-by-Team Breakdown - Stadium

Team previews, odds, best bets for all 30 NBA teams - VSiN Exclusive News - News | VSiN

NBA 2022-23 season preview: Pacers outlook, biggest questions - Sports Illustrated

NBA season preview 2022-23 - Contenders, stars and big questions - ESPN

NBA betting preview: Our favorite win total bets as teams tank for Victor Wembanyama - Yahoo! Sports

2022-23 NBA Season Preview: Central Division - Basketball News

NBA betting preview: Paolo Banchero Rookie of the Year chances and other award picks

NBA Betting Preview: A look ahead at the Central Division

Semi-Bold NBA Predictions, Extension Talks, and the Philadelphia 76ers - The Ringer

The Lowe Post - Award Predictions with John Hollinger | ESPN