Can Indiana get back in the playoffs?
The Indiana Pacers are an interesting team in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers have went through some changes in the off season, most notably the coach Frank Vogel. Vogel has been the head coach for the Pacers since 2011 and has helped the team to two Eastern Conference Finals. Even though the Pacers were in the playoffs, President of the Pacers Larry Bird decided to let Vogel go and move in a different direction. The Head Coach of the Pacers will be Nate McMillan, who has coached teams like the Trailblazers and was the Assistant Coach for the Pacers under Frank Vogel. In retrospect this can be a breath of fresh air for this team.
The Pacers have changed their roster as well, as they acquired a veteran Al Jefferson from the Hornets and Jeff Teague. Teague was traded to the Pacers in the offseason in a three team trade, that sent former Pacers Point Guard George Hill to the Jazz. Teague now playing the Point Guard position in Indiana, is a great opportunity for him to show what Atlanta will be missing. Atlanta decided to go a different direction with Dennis Schroeder as their starting Point guard. Teague averaged 15.7 PPG and 5.9 APG last season, which would be an improvement compared to what Hill had done last year for the Pacers.
Al Jefferson is a interesting acquisition for the Pacers, as they get a productive veteran center they have needed for a long time. Jefferson has been in the league for twelve years and is a tough center. Being with the Hornets for three years, he also has the ability to carry the team on several occasions as well. Jefferson at thirty one years old, may have the best talent around him in his career. With Paul George, Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis, it relieves the pressure of Jefferson(who averaged 12 PPG) to score then with the Hornets. Playing for the Pacers gives Jefferson a fresh start, with a team that can make a run in the playoffs.
Paul George is also hungry to be a champion and gain respect as one of the best players in the game. After a horrific injury in 2014, George is fully healthy going into the season and has got back into the flow of his game. Last season felt more like George getting back to the player he was prior to his injury, which he would average 23.1 PPG which is his career high. This upcoming season George has a new array of talent with Jeff Teague and Al Jefferson, while still having likes of Monta Ellis and CJ Miles as well. Expect George to improve and try to take this team to a new level.
Prediction: The Pacers are a wild card in the Eastern Conference. They finally have a legit threat at the Center position in Al Jefferson. They have also improved the Point Guard position by getting Jeff Teague, who is going to have a chip on his shoulder. Paul George is coming into the season hungry and wanting to prove to the world that he should be in the conversation as the best in the NBA. He is also coming off his best scoring season, which was his comeback season as well. This Pacers team has new life and has potential to be a threat in the Eastern Conference.
Indiana Pacers: third Seed in the Eastern Conference