The Indiana Pacers have exceeded expectations this season as they are already in the thick of the Eastern Conference postseason race after a brief rebuilding phase.
However, Indiana’s front office was clearly not satisfied with being a feel-good team and wanted even more out of this season. This led to the Pacers’ latest deal where they acquired two-time NBA All-Star Pascal Siakam from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Bruce Brown, Kira Lewis, Jordan Nwora, and three first round picks.
Siakam fills a definite need for an Indiana team whose biggest weakness was the power forward position. His ability to create his own shot on a consistent basis is another major plus as this was a skill that these Pacers sorely lacked beyond Tyrese Haliburton.
The 29-year-old forward is averaging 22.2 points per game on 52.2% field goal shooting this season and this number is expected to tick higher as he moves from a Toronto team that was ranked 15th in pace to this high octane Indiana side that is second in the entire league.
Furthermore, playing alongside Tyrese Haliburton will only make life easier for Siakam. It would not come as a surprise if Haliburton’s elite playmaking pushes Siakam’s scoring average beyond his career-high of 24.2 per game which he achieved last year by the end of this regular season.
On the other end, the combination of Siakam’s 6’8 frame and above average mobility make him a versatile defensive asset. He can cover multiple positions and this should allow him to pair well with the shot blocking ability of Myles Turner.
The 2019 NBA Most Improved Player not only gives them a solid two-way presence though. He also brings championship experience with him as he played an integral role on the Raptors’ 2019 NBA Championship-winning team.
This is especially crucial as the Pacers’ two featured players, Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner, do not have much meaningful postseason experience.
Indiana’s trade looks like a winner–at least on paper–as it gives them enough tools to make a deep playoff run this year. Now that they have a proven scorer to go along with their superstar point guard Haliburton, their supporting cast can now focus on their roles and they are likely to find themselves even more open now that Siakam is onboard.
The loss of Brown, their key offseason acquisition and starting shooting guard for most of this year so far, is no small matter, yet it also frees up more playing time for sophomore guard Andrew Nembhard, the emerging Aaron Nesmith, and veteran shooter Buddy Hield–that is if he is not traded by the February 8 NBA trade deadline.
This team’s journey back towards contention in the East has just begun though. It will be interesting to see if the Pacers’ front office will make one or two more moves to bolster this roster even more over the next two weeks. More crucially, everyone will be closely monitoring if they can figure things out on the fly in order to continue what has been the most electric season in several years for this proud franchise.
Siakam will be playing his first game with the Pacers against the Portland Trail Blazers and they have a bit of momentum after beating the Sacramento Kings.