The annual conversation starter that is ESPN’s NBArank 2022, released players 100-26 of the WWL’s top 100 players in the league. The list is compiled by a stout panel of 200 NBA media types of all variations of content, which makes for a quality, broad consensus compared to other conversation starter player rankings.
So, the first task with any such list is to search for which Pacers made the list and this year it didn’t take long. Tyrese Haliburton checked in as the highest rated player at No. 59, followed by Myles Turner and No. 66 and Buddy Hield at No. 90. Recent former Pacers, Domas Sabonis at No. 47 and Malcolm Brogdon at No. 87, also made the list.
Haliburton continues to ascend the list, rising 14 spots compared to last season’s rankings. But as the Pacers highest rated player, No. 59 is a low mark even for a rebuilding squad. Last season, Sabonis was at No. 40a and Turner at No. 44 which admittedly was a bit high for the Turbonis pairing.
Here’s was the ESPN had to say about Haliburton:
One game to watch: Nov. 30 at Sacramento. Haliburton returns to Sac-Town looking to remind the Kings of what they traded away in the Sabonis deal. Haliburton played his old team once after the trade last season, recording 13 points and 15 assists but shooting 4-for-14 in a 110-109 loss in March.
As referenced above, Turner dropped 22 spots after spending the offseason on the trading block for the Pacers but not generating the desired market for the team to make a move. Now heading into a contract year, Turner should be desperate to show how valuable he is for a trade to a contender later in the year and/or his next contract.
One huge question for 2022-23: Ready for another round of Myles Turner trade speculation? As Indiana continues to part with key pieces of its former core, Turner’s name will almost certainly continue to bounce around in trade rumors.
Hield dropped 39 spots from last year’s ranking, but remains viable thanks to his perimeter shooting expertise.
Swing skill: 3-point shooting. Hield shot a career-worst 36.2% from 3 in his 26 games after joining the Pacers last season, but he is still one of the league’s best threats from deep, shooting at least 39% for four consecutive seasons from 2017-18 to 2020-21. Teams around the league are certain to still be attracted to his shooting ability if Indiana wants to deal him.
Nothing highlights the long rebuilding journey ahead for the Pacers more than an assessment of this list. Considering two of the three players listed for the Pacers are not considered long-term parts of the rebuild, and more likely will help fortify the change in direction in the near term, the player development component is critical starting this season.
Along with Haliburton, the Pacers surely expect Benedict Mathurin and Chris Duarte to make their way onto this type of list in the near future. If Isaiah Jackson and maybe, Jalen Smith can eventually join them, then the Pacers. This also doesn’t include the first-round picks to be named later after the 2023 draft, which again, should fetch at least one player with a future among the best in the league.
So while it seems bleak today, by this time next season, hopefully the Pacers potential will be filled with talent to carry the franchise forward to a new era of sustained success.