With the 2018-19 NBA season quickly approaching, we're rolling out 30 Teams in 30 Days. Between now and opening night, we're dedicating one day to each team in the league.
After looking at Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland we're rounding out our Central Division coverage with the Indiana Pacers.
2017-18 season record
48-34 (No. 5 in Eastern Conference)
Projected 2018-19 season record
47.5 wins (No. 4 in Eastern Conference)
Tyreke Evans (free agency)
Aaron Holiday (draft)
Doug McDermott (free agency)
Glenn Robinson III (free agency)
Lance Stephenson (free agency)
3 key storylines
Year two of the Victor Oladipo era
In his first season as a Pacer, Oladipo was named the NBA's Most Improved Player after averaging 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and a league-high 2.4 steals per game - career-bests in each statistical category. Oladipo's breakout season propelled the Pacers to a 48-win season after the team was projected to win just 32 games.
In year two as Indiana's franchise player, the 26-year-old will be looked upon to lead his team to new heights once again. The all-around improvement of the Pacers roster should allow the All-Star to continue his upward trajectory.
Myles Turner's development
The Pacers' ability to inch closer to becoming a top-three team in the Eastern Conference hinges on the development of Turner in his fourth season. Boston (Horford), Toronto (Valanciunas) and Philadelphia (Embiid) have all relied on inside play to establish themselves as the class of the East.
At just 22, Turner has shown flashes of being a top centre in the league, most notably developing a 3-point shot and improving as a shooter each year. As an athletic rim protector, Turner's versatility on both ends of the floor is what can allow him to be one of the league's premier bigs.
The impact of new acquisitions
.@TyrekeEvans making his #PacersMediaDay debut 📸 pic.twitter.com/UtjXuZk96F- Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) September 24, 2018
This offseason, Indiana signed free agents Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott and Kyle O'Quinn and used its first-round pick to take point guard Aaron Holiday from UCLA. Evans, who is coming off a career year, provides a veteran presence as a versatile playmaking wing. McDermott, a career 40.3 percent shooter from deep, is a major addition for the team that was 25th in made 3-pointers last season.
Last season, the Pacers also finished as a bottom 10 rebounding team - O'Quinn adds inside depth and should help on the boards. Holiday is in a great position to learn from veteran guards Darren Collison and Cory Joseph; the 21-year-old with an NBA pedigree (brother of Jrue and Justin) is the Pacers guard of the future.
30 TEAMS IN 30 DAYS: Bucks | Bulls | Cavs | Pistons
Grizzlies | Mavs | Pelicans | Rockets | Spurs
Blazers | Jazz | Nuggets | Thunder | Wolves
5 games to watch
Oct. 19 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Who will capture the Central Division crown in 2018-19? The consensus is that it will come down to Indiana and Milwaukee. The division foes play the first of four regular season matchups during opening week.
Nov. 3 vs. Boston Celtics
Boston, the preseason favourite in the Eastern Conference this season, makes its first of two visits to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in early November. The Pacers and Celtics split last season's series 2-2, with three of four games decided by six points or less.
Nov. 7 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Despite the Pacers winning two of three games against the Sixers last season, many believe Philadelphia is head and shoulders ahead of Indiana. The Pacers get their first of four opportunities to prove themselves against Simmons, Embiid and company just three weeks into the season.
Jan. 28 vs. Golden State Warriors
In the Steve Kerr era, just one team has completed a season sweep of the Golden State Warriors. That team? The 2017-18 Indiana Pacers . The defending champs make their lone visit to Indiana in late January as the Pacers look to prove last season was not a fluke.
March 14 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
The 2017 trade that sent Paul George to the Western Conference means the All-Star only makes one visit to the place he once called home per season. George will visit Indiana as a visitor for the second time in his career in a mid-March tilt.