2022-23 Kia Season Preview

2022-23 Season Preview: Indiana Pacers

The Pacers will try to pair change with success as they maneuver through a rebuild.

Buddy Hield and Tyrese Haliburton were 2 of the biggest additions to the Pacers last season.

The Indiana Pacers will field a different roster this season. But will they field better results?

Before finishing 13th in the Eastern Conference last season (25-57) and missing the playoffs for a second consecutive campaign, the Pacers focused on improving their future. Consider their moves before the NBA trade deadline.

Indiana dealt to Sacramento a two-time All-Star center (Domantas Sabonis), a perimeter threat (Justin Holiday) and a role player that struggled to stay healthy (Jeremy Lamb). The Pacers received the Kings’ prized second-year player (Tyrese Haliburton), a productive secondary scorer (Buddy Hield) and a bruising forward (Tristan Thompson), whom the Pacers then waived as a buyout candidate. Indiana traded a valued combo guard (Caris LeVert) and a second-round pick (2022) to Cleveland for a veteran point guard (Ricky Rubio), a first-round pick (2022) and two second-round picks (Houston’s 2022, Utah’s 2027). The Pacers sent a role player (Torrey Craig) and cash to Phoenix for a promising second-year forward (Jalen Smith) and a future second-round pick (2022).

The Pacers continued their roster overhaul during the offseason. They used their No. 6 pick on a player that has positional versatility (Bennedict Mathurin), their No 31. pick on backcourt depth (Andrew Nembhard) and their No. 48 pick acquired from Minnesota on wing reinforcement (Kendall Brown). The Pacers dealt their veteran and injury-riddled point guard (Malcolm Brogdon) to Boston for a versatile big man (Daniel Theis), a first-round pick (2023) and a handful of role players (Aaron Nesmith, Nik Stauskas, Juwan Morgan, Malik Fitts). Indiana then waived three of those players (Stauskas, Morgan, Fitts). The Pacers allowed Rubio and T.J. Warren to leave as free agents. And Indiana inked Smith to a new deal. The Pacers tried to top off a busy offseason with landing restricted free-agent center Deandre Ayton, but Phoenix matched the offer sheet.


How will the Pacers handle all the change? Indiana coach Rick Carlisle has the credentials to oversee a successful rebuild following his challenging first season. But Carlisle faces a difficult task with incorporating so many new players. The Pacers also might not be done with making moves, having been linked with various trade proposals that involve Myles Turner and Hield. Either way, Indiana faces a heavy burden with rectifying last season’s output in points per game (14th), points allowed (26th), rebounds (21st), turnovers (23rd) and 3-point shooting (25th).


The rebuilding process will continue. The Pacers currently only have four players that have played at least five NBA seasons (Turner, McConnell, Hield, Theis). And they could become just as busy leading into the trade deadline as they were last season. Therefore, Indiana will deal with plenty of inexperience and roster turnover. That naturally will lead to plenty of losses. But they have started building a sturdy foundation to ensure a bright future. Projection: Draft Lottery.


5.12 and 4.26 — Among 375 players who played at least 500 minutes last season, Isaiah Jackson (5.12) and Turner (4.26) ranked first and second in steals + blocks per 36 minutes.

— John Schuhmann


Tyrese Haliburton: He appears capable of becoming the Pacers’ franchise player. 

Buddy Hield: If he stays in a Pacers uniform, can he both score and play efficiently?

Bennedict Mathurin: He might not be a franchise savior his rookie season, but Mathurin has the tools to become a star with his athleticism, confidence and shooting.

Jalen Smith: Smith will reward the Pacers for their long-term commitment to him with consistent scoring, rebounding and defense.

Myles Turner: If he remains on the roster, Turner has to prove he can stay healthy.


T.J. McConnell: Just as it has been for his past three seasons in Indiana, McConnell will stay consistent with his hustle.

Chris Duarte:  Expect Duarte to show the maturity and dependability he displayed at the beginning of his rookie season before becoming hobbled with injuries.

Daniel Theis: He will serve as a dependable big with finishing, setting screens and passing.

Aaron Nesmith: After having a limited role during his first two seasons in Boston, can Nesmith emerge in Indiana as a reliable 3-and-D player?


How the Pacers have fared stats-wise over the last 5 seasons …

Last 5 seasons

Season W L PCT OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank Playoffs
2021-22 25 57 0.305 111.9 18 115.5 28 -3.6 24
2020-21 34 38 0.472 111.9 14 111.9 14 +0.1 16
2019-20 45 28 0.616 109.5 19 107.5 6 +1.9 13 X
2018-19 48 34 0.585 109.4 18 106.0 3 +3.4 9 X
2017-18 48 34 0.585 108.5 11 107.3 12 +1.3 12 X

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

* * *

Mark Medina is a senior writer/analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.