Predicting the Indiana Pacers Starting Lineup in 2017/18


The 2017 summer saw one of the most hectic NBA offseasons the league has seen in its entire existence, and the Indiana Pacers were no mere spectators to the frenzy. After trading superstar forward Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana committed to center Myles Turner as the new franchise player, hoping they could supplement him with new teammates to possibly sneak into a playoff spot in the ever-weakening Eastern Conference.

Having previously worked together in Portland, team President Kevin Pritchard and new General Manager Chad Buchanan brought in several new players and one familiar face to the Pacers. With the top half of the roster mostly set in stone, let's take a look at what Indiana's most likely starting lineup should be and how the new pieces will fare in the new system.

PG: Darren Collison

Collison was signed to a 2-year, $20 million deal on July 7 to replace one-year Pacer Jeff Teague, who now is the presumptive starting point guard for the Minnesota Timberwolves. This is Collison's second stint with Indiana, having previously played for the team from 2010-2012. Now 30 years old, the veteran looks to be the primary ball handler for the starting lineup, and will most likely be a supplementary scorer for Indiana's first unit. Despite never being a primary scorer, Collison has always been remarkably consistent in his 8-year career. He has averaged between 10 and 16 points per game every season, and his lowest average was the result of him slowly losing minutes to George Hill in his second season in Indiana.

The Pacers must be able to rely upon Collison for 3-point shooting this year. Last season in Sacramento, Collison had his finest year from behind the arc, averaging a solid .417 3-point shooting percentage, which could be an instant upgrade over Teague's .357 percentage.

SG: Victor Oladipo

The prodigal son returns. The former Indiana Hoosiers star returns to the state where his meteoric rise to the number 2 overall pick began. Oladipo was one of the two pieces acquired from Oklahoma City in exchange for Paul George (the other being Domantas Sabonis), and the guard instantly becomes Indiana's highest-paid player at just over $21 million a season. The Pacers hope he can be the answer to their revolving door of 2-guards, which featured an aging Monta Ellis and an out-of-position C.J. Miles.

While 2016-17 did not see Oladipo's highest scoring output (15.9 ppg), last season was easily the most efficient of his career. His .510 effective field goal percentage was the highest of his career, and his true shooting percentage of .534 matched his personal best. It's likely that Oladipo might also share some ball-handling duties with Collison, though not to the extent of him being a full-blown point guard like Orlando once tried. It's entirely likely that by season's end, Oladipo could be Indiana's second-leading scorer.

SF: Glenn Robinson III

After two years of him being teased as a starter, Robinson should (should) see himself as the full-time starter this year with Paul George gone. Due to a jump in nine more minutes played per game, Robinson saw an increase in every single major statistical category, including a rise from 3.8 ppg to 6.1. Last season was also Robinson's most efficient season, setting new career-highs in effective field goal percentage (.540), true shooting percentage (.564) and PER (11.5). This season, Robinson's minutes should increase even more than last year, and the Pacers are relying on him to show that he is more than just an athletic specimen and can be relied on for a consistent scoring output.

PF: Thaddeus Young

Pacers fans should all hope there are no changes from here. Young's first season in Indiana was far from his most effective scoring-wise, but Young's presence immensely improved the Pacers from an energy standpoint. When Young missed 8 games with an injury, the Pacers saw their already abysmal total rebound rate drop from 48.7% (25th in the league) to 46.6% (would be 29th in the league). Young was also surprisingly effective from deep, averaging a career-best .381 3-point percentage.

For now, Young seems firmly entrenched in his role from the previous season. However, analysts and fans have been speculating that Young has been on the trading block due to the apparent rebuild that George's trade brought. Still, training camp starts soon, and I'm inclined to believe that Young would have been traded by now if he were to be traded at all during the offseason. There's still a possibility that a big-needy team makes an offer during the season, but for now, Young will continue providing the muscle for Indiana's starters.

C: Myles Turner

With George gone, the team now clearly belongs to the 21-year-old Turner. Indiana's new franchise player has all the physical attributes to be a top-tier center in the years to come. Last season, Turner displayed a wide variety of offensive abilities, including a near-automatic mid-range jump-shot and an improved three-point percentage. Where Turner does most of his damage, though, is close to the basket, where he converted 64% of his attempts on non-post-up shots near the hoop, per Synergy. The close-range effectiveness is a welcomed sight to the Pacers, as those shots were not always automatic in previous years with Roy Hibbert at center. Where Turner needs to most improve this coming season is his post-up game, where he made just 37.8% when single-covered. As he continues to age and build strength, Turner should be more comfortable in the post and continue to build on his multi-dimensional offensive capabilities.

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