With Influx of Shooting, Pacers Primed to Fire Away From Three
The final four teams in last year's NBA playoffs had one thing in common: they were all ranked in the top eight in 3-pointers made per game.
But while Pacers finished the regular season as one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the league, making 36.9 percent of their attempts from deep, they lagged far behind in the amount of threes made, recording just nine per game, the sixth-lowest in the entire league.
But with the draft and free agency in the rearview, Indiana appears in position to move up the charts and become one the NBA's most lethal teams from 3-point range. The arrival of three players — plus offseason improvements from players already on the roster — could end up dramatically altering the amount of threes attempted and made per game, as the Pacers' offense continues to evolve into a modern attack.
The free agency acquisitions of Doug McDermott and Tyreke Evans, coupled with the drafting of Aaron Holiday, appear aimed at bolstering what was already an accurate team from beyond the arc.
Of the three players, Evans' 3-point stroke will be watched the closest. The nine-year NBA vet spent the first half of his career as an impressive scorer but a subpar 3-point shooter. Only in the last three seasons has Evans started to flash consistency from three, posting an impressive 39.9 percent last year with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Still, even if he can't replicate last year's performance, Evans' 3-point attempts per game (5.5) will far surpass the amount he is essentially replacing as the sixth man in Lance Stephenson, who attempted just 2.8 per game and made 28.9 percent.
Alongside Evans will be fellow newcomer Doug McDermott, who joins the Pacers after arguably his best stretch of play in his four-year career. Playing 24 games in Dallas after being traded, McDermott set the 3-point line ablaze, making 49.4 of his attempts to close out the season.
McDermott credited former Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle for using certain schemes to get him open, especially from the corners where he hit an absurd 64.2 percent of his looks.
"I'm not a guy who needs the ball in my hands a lot to be successful," McDermott said at his introductory press conference. "I feel like my best strength is moving without the basketball, and that alone puts pressure on the defense."
Rookie Aaron Holiday can no doubt light it up from deep, as he shot 39 percent or better in all three of his collegiate seasons. His biggest question mark remains how much he will see the floor in his first NBA season.
Luckily for the Pacers, the improvements from long range likely won't be limited to the newcomers. Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner, both cornerstones of the franchise, share a promising statistic: each player has improved their 3-point percentage in every season of their careers.
Last season, Oladipo shot a career-best 37.1 percent from deep, while Turner connected on 35.7 percent of his long range attempts.
Oladipo's pull-up three in transition was one of his best weapons last year, but he might not be the only Pacer using the move next season. Recently, a video surfaced of Turner working on his pull-up during a pickup game, exciting fans with what looked to be a comfortable stroke for the big man.
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Add to the mix the already elite shooting of Darren Collison, who led the NBA in 3-point percentage last season, and Bojan Bogdanovic, who shot a career-best 40.2 percent from deep last year, and the Pacers appear primed to become one of the NBA's most consistent threats from beyond the arc as they aim to build on their 48-win season.