BY MARK KERN
The Indiana Pacers will start the 2022-23 season much differently than it did last season. In fact, there is a very good chance the Pacers will make some major moves throughout the season. Malcolm Brogdon was traded in the off-season to the Boston Celtics, and two of the best of the team’s remaining players, Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, have been involved with trade rumors all offseason.
If there is some optimism for Indiana Pacers fans, it has to be that there is some young talent the team could potentially build around in the future.
Point guard Tyrese Haliburton is a player who has a chance to be an All-Star point guard. The 22-year old guard averaged 15.3 points and 8.2 assists last season, with the assists ranking eighth in the NBA. In his 22 games with the Pacers, he averaged 9.6 assists and has shown that he has a chance to be one of the elite point guards in all of the NBA in just a couple seasons.
Another young player Pacers fans will become quick fans of is first-round pick Bennedict Mathurin. The rookie out of Arizona is an explosive athlete who has the ability to affect a game in many different ways. In his two seasons at Arizona, he averaged 14.8 points and 5.3 rebounds, while shooting an impressive 38.3% from the 3-point line.
With Haliburton and Mathurin, the Pacers have two young explosive athletes who should both be able to cause a lot of issues in the open floor.
The Pacers had the NBA’s fifth-worst record last season, and according to Caesars Sportsbook, expectations are the Pacers will be even worse this year. The over/under on the Pacers’ win total is 22.5, which is tied for the worst in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs.
Indiana’s NBA championship odds are +100000, making them equal to the longest shot with the Rockets, Spurs, Thunder and Jazz.
When it comes to making the playoffs, the odds aren’t much better for the Pacers. Indiana is -10000 to not make the playoffs, meaning, you’d have to bet $100 just to win a dollar, and +2500 to make the final 16.
A big issue for the Pacers is that the Eastern Conference has gotten a lot better. Teams such as the Cavaliers, Knicks and Pistons have all taken a step in the right direction, and that doesn’t even include the eight teams that made the playoffs last year.
Many also expect the Pacers to trade away both Turner and Hield, which will make it even tougher for the team to be competitive. However, if they do trade those players, then there could be some opportunities for a couple of other Pacers players to win some awards.
Mathurin is +550 to win Rookie of the Year, which is the third-best odds of any rookie. He trails only Paolo Banchero at +170 and Keegan Murray at +430. If the Pacers trade off some of those top players on the team, Mathurin could easily find himself as the second scoring option for the Pacers.
Haliburton is +2200 for Most Improved Player, which trails only six players league-wide. Two of them are Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Maxey, who both have two other all-star players who are going to put up big numbers and take opportunities for big stats. Another is the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson, who is a potential superstar, but health is obviously a major concern for him.
That makes Haliburton for Most Improved Player a bet that feels appealing. Whether or not the Pacers trade their best players, Haliburton is still the point guard on this team and will put up big numbers regardless.