The Indiana Pacers are a small-market team, but a massively underrated organization. They are at it again, building a solid core right before our eyes.
After just two seasons in the lottery, they have assembled a talented young nucleus alongside their seasoned and established players, creating a solid foundation for a quick rebuild. With veteran head coach Rick Carlisle also at the helm, the Pacers could be easily poised for an exciting future.
Through his commendable 20-year coaching career, Carlisle brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table. Having coached numerous Hall-of-Famers and tough-contending teams throughout his tenure, highlighted by a championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, his presence on the sideline is sure to instil confidence on the guys.
Note that this is his second stint in Indiana, and that he stirred the franchise to its winningest season back in 2003-04, where they went 61-21 and reached the Eastern Conference Finals. He’s in his third year back in Indy, and there was considerable improvement last season.
The Pacers’ roster boasts an array of established players who play vital roles in the team’s growth. There’s Myles Turner in the middle, a stretch big man who also one of the league’s premier shot-blockers – 2.8 blocks per game since 2020, fifth in blocks this past season.
Swingman Buddy Hield, renowned for his sharpshooting prowess, adds a scoring punch to the team’s offense – his 288 threes last season was second in the league and broke the Pacers’ single-season record for made threes, surpassing Reggie Miller’s mark.
Off-season signee Bruce Brown will add hustle and energy. He’s a traditional three-point and defensive specialist fresh off a championship win with the Denver Nuggets.
The young core
The Pacers’ young core is the heart of their rebuild and holds immense promise for the future:
Tyrese Haliburton (23 years old) has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Equipped with long arms and versatility, he excels in scoring, playmaking, and defense while also proving to be a reliable three-point shooter, making him one of the most intriguing rising stars in the NBA. His recent All-Star selection in 2023 underscores his path as the franchise cornerstone moving forward.
Bennedict Mathurin (21 years old) is a dazzling talent blessed with elite athleticism. He can score from inside the paint and beyond the arc, making him a valuable asset on the offensive end. That fearless and relentless approach in attacking the opposition can make anyone a fan.
Jarace Walker, the Pacers’ lottery pick in the 2023 draft, is an exciting prospect with a bright future. At just 20 years old, he brings size, strength, and mobility as a forward, further complemented by his impressive 7’2 wingspan.
He flexed his talents well during the Summer League, especially in these blocks:
Despite the lack of similar media hype, the Pacers’ talented young trio – Haliburton, Mathurin, and Walker – hold immense potential to rival even the most celebrated cores in the NBA, such as those of the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.
The second-tier of youngsters are pretty underrated too, with point guard Andrew Nembhard, bruising forward Isaiah Jackson, Jalen Smith, and other off-season acquisition Obi Toppin, who will bolster Indy’s size and athleticism even further.
The Pacers are in the midst of a remarkable transformation. They have plenty of tools to catapult themselves into contention for years to come. The careful cultivation of their young core alongside their established players has positioned them as a team to watch out for in the ever-competitive landscape of the NBA.