Kevin Pritchard and the Indiana Pacers are feeling like major winners so far this offseason. After getting knocked out of the first round of the NBA Playoffs by the Boston Celtics last season, they knew major changes needed to happen. Those changed came very quickly in free agency.
Gone are Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, Tyreke Evans, Wesley Matthews, Darren Collison, and Cory Jopseh. All of those players were key pieces for the Pacers last season. They served their purpose, but Indiana needed more firepower at nearly every position around Victor Oladipo.
To replace them, the Pacers went out and acquired T.J. Warren on draft night to go along with Malcolm Brogdon in a free agency sign-and-trade. Indiana also brought in Jeremy Lamb, T.J. McConnell, and Goga Bitadze. A complete roster overhaul was not what many expected, but it happened.
Now, the pressure is on for the Pacers to take the next step. Oladipo will be out until at least December or January as he continues to rehab from a quad rupture. The team still has confidence that they can stay in contention in the Eastern Conference until he returns, then make a big-time push towards the playoffs.
All of that being said, let’s dive in and take a look at three players facing the most pressure for the Pacers this coming season.
3. Myles Turner
Myles Turner has to be on this list with the pressure that he has been facing for years now. Fans in Indiana have been very judgmental about his game and have given him a rough go of things. Now, the expectations for him are even higher to take the Pacers’ leadership role until Oladipo comes back.
Indiana needs their big man to step up on the offensive end of the court like he already does defensively. He has become one of the best shot blockers in the game, but his offensive game simply has not taken the leap they were hoping to see. This is the year that he has to put everything together for the Pacers.
2. Doug McDermott
Next up, Doug McDermott has become one of the most forgotten players on the roster for Indiana. While the Pacers may have signed players that will end up taking his minutes, specifically Justin Holiday, his shooting ability could still earn him a role within Nate McMillan’s offense.
McDermott didn’t have the best season in his first year with the team. He ended up averaging 7.3 points per game while shooting 40.8 percent from the three-point line. If he is unable to break into the rotation and shoot the ball consistently, McDermott could be on his way out of Indiana.
1. Domantas Sabonis
Finally, and perhaps most obviously, Domantas Sabonis is without question the player facing the most pressure for the Pacers. He is entering the starting lineup for the first time in Indiana and many don’t think he will fit well alongside of Turner. Sabonis is a bit slow for the power forward position and could have trouble matching up with opponents.
His offensive game is what makes the Pacers excited about putting him in the lineup. Sabonis was the main offensive focus off the bench over the last couple seasons and can score, rebound, and create for teammates. Indiana will be a dangerous team if Sabonis fits well alongside Turner in the front-court.