The Indiana Pacers went through a lot of change this summer and are hoping that they can get back to being elite contenders in the Eastern Conference. While there are a lot of new players on the roster, the biggest improvement could actually come from a couple of players from last year’s roster.
During the 2018-19 NBA season with the Pacers, Sabonis ended up averaging 14.1 points per game to go along with 9.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He shot 59 percent from the floor overall as well. Those numbers show a lot of improvement from Sabonis from the previous season.
Now, it’s time for him to become a full-time starter. Kevin Pritchard and Nate McMillan are in agreement that Sabonis will start at the power forward position for the Pacers alongside Myles Turner. It is a move that Indiana fans have been waiting a long time to see, but there are some that don’t think it will work.
All of that being said, let’s dive in and take a look at three improvements Sabonis must make this offseason.
3. He Has To Become a Better Free-Throw Shooter
A big man like Sabonis will get to the foul line a lot throughout the course of the season. He has shown the ability to be a dangerous offensive rebounder and is a great pick-and-roll big as well. Both of those areas usually lead to foul shots.
Sabonis only shot 71.5 percent from the foul line last season for the Pacers, which simply is not going to cut it. He has to get that number up to around 80 percent in order to be the most lethal offensive weapon that he can be.
2. Improve on the Defensive End of the Court
Sabonis has become a great offensive threat, but the Pacers need him to improve on the defensive end as well. Indiana loves what Turner brings defensively, but the two may not fit well alongside each other. With Sabonis likely to play at the power forward position, he could have his hands full.
He isn’t the most athletic big man and has shown some issues defensively. Taking the next step as a defender would take him to the next level as a player. Indiana prides themselves on being a great defensive team, but Sabonis’ development is pivotal for the upcoming season.
1. Extend His Range to Beyond the Three-Point Arc
Finally, the Pacers would love to see Sabonis become a better stretch option. Turner is already capable of stepping out and knocking down the three at a high level. If Sabonis can get to that point, their front-court duo will be very difficult to defend for opposing teams.
Sabonis has shown range throughout his career, but only attempted 0.2 threes per game last year. Indiana won’t want him to fall in love with the three, but being able to pick-and-pop in addition to rolling will give them another wrinkle to their offense.