Now that Indiana’s 2015-16 season is officially in the books, it’s time to take a moment to reflect, and time to look toward the future.
The Pacers came into this past season with a lot of change and uncertainty to contend with…nobody knew if Paul George could come all the way back from the broken leg he suffered in 2014. The Pacers were planning to change their style to a more up-tempo attack, and that adjustment period could set the team back in the short-term.
As everyone now knows, Paul George not only regained his previous form, he attained new heights and cemented his status as an NBA superstar. The change in style did make much of the regular season feel like an experiment, but the emergence of Myles Turner helped settle the team into a more traditional lineup, but one that was more flexible and athletic than recent Pacers teams.
Indiana’s improvement from 38-44 last season to 45-37 this year was a good result, everything considered. When you factor in a very good showing in their playoff series with the second-seeded Toronto Raptors, I think the season as a whole has to be considered a success.
Looking forward, what can the Pacers do to continue their climb in the Eastern Conference? They’ll be drafting outside the lottery, so they probably can’t count on adding an impact rookie next season. Attracting big-time free agents is always a problem for Indiana, but the team at least has a fighting chance since they are on the rise and have a true superstar on the roster.
Much of the improvement will need to come from within, in all likelihood. The good news is, if Myles Turner can continue to grow, the team will grow right along with him.
The primary in-house free agent this summer will be Ian Mahinmi, and I believe if he can be retained at a reasonable salary, the Pacers should make an effort to bring him back. Ty Lawson showed enough in his brief audition with the Pacers that I would like to see him come back for a training camp and full season with the team.
The future looks bright for this team, but they could be years away from being a true contender. The Indiana Pacers are headed in the right direction, and should be a perennial playoff team in the years to come. It’s going to be a joy to follow their progress as they continue to work their way up the NBA ladder.