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Biggest Needs for the Indiana Pacers to Resolve Before the 2021 NBA Season

| October 27, 2020 10:39 am PDT
Indiana Pacers' Biggest Needs 2021 NBA Season

Things aren’t going so well for the Indiana Pacers these days. A yearly playoff contender, the Pacers remain competitive and have a solid overall roster.

However, Indiana is forced to embrace change, as the team fired head coach Nate McMillan and should be looking to part ways with star shooting guard Victor Oladipo.

With so many moving pieces, it’s hard to know what to expect of this team. The uncertainty is a huge reason the Pacers find themselves among the NBA teams likely to regress in 2021.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

Indiana still has some really nice players on their roster. If the Indiana Pacers’ biggest needs for the 2021 NBA season get addressed, it’s still possible this is a team to be reckoned with.

Let’s break down Indiana’s biggest needs, as well as how they may address them this offseason.

Land a True Superstar

Rumor has it that Victor Oladipo wants to leave. He hasn’t been healthy or overly effective over the last two years, though, so Indy should do whatever they can to ship him out of town.

Replacing “Dipo” is still pretty important, but the Pacers do have a strong core in Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren, Domantas Sabonis, and Myles Turner.

The problem? None of these guys jump out at you as legit NBA superstars.

Warren might be the closest after balling out in the Orlando bubble to close out the year, but trading Oladipo brings the perfect time to go out and get a true star this team can lean on.

The Eastern Conference is still a good place to earn a playoff trip, but if the Pacers want to get by the likes of Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and others, they need someone to do the heavy lifting.

I’m not sure it’s all that realistic of a goal, but Bradley Beal heads a compelling list of NBA stars that could get traded this year. If Indiana could package Oladipo with some draft picks, they just might be able to land one of them.

Get Some Rebounding

A great way to compete on a nightly basis is to win the battle on the glass. Rebounding is so key to ending defensive possessions, as well as giving yourself a second chance on offense.

Indiana doesn’t really get the rebounding production they need out of center Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis – despite being one of the best rebounding big men in the NBA – can’t do it all on his own.

It’s wild to see the Pacers rank 20th in defensive rebounding, especially when you note how dominant Sabonis (12.4 rebounds per game) really is. Sadly, the aforementioned Turner (6.8) is the only other guy who even clears more than five boards per contest.

Indy has to be better in this regard. Tristan Thompson is a free agent and would be a big help in this area, but one way or another, this one of the Indiana Pacers’ biggest needs and they need to address it.

Draft a Bench Scorer

One other glaring issue is Indy’s bench scoring. They were in decent shape earlier in the year last season, but ended up losing Jeremy Lamb to injury.

It’s unclear how quickly Lamb can make it back to his prior form, or if his return will even help a bench ranked 20th in scoring. That probably isn’t going to cut it – especially if the Pacers march forward without a bonafide superstar leading the way.

The Pacers are at risk of losing some of their useful bench bodies, too.

Justin Holiday would ideally slide into a bench spark role permanently (he had to start a lot this past season), but his quality scoring may be exiting in free agency.

Doug McDermott is a solid shooter off the bench, but he’s an overall negative. T.J. McConnell is a smart player with a great basketball IQ, but he doesn’t really help with scoring or shooting. And then you have Aaron Holiday, who is terribly inconsistent.

Indy needs a better spark off the bench, and if they don’t sign one or trade for one, they can cheaply land one in the 2020 NBA Draft. The Pacers don’t own a first-round draft pick at the moment, but perhaps they can snag one of the top 2020 NBA Draft sleepers.

There are many to choose from, but guys like Grant Riller and Markus Howard are pure scorers who could be around late in round two.


Indiana isn’t in as good of shape as they were a year or two ago. Heck, they’re pretty far removed from the glory days of Paul George.

Even so, the Eastern Conference remains pretty exploitable. The conference is getting stronger at the top, but the Pacers are clearly the second most reliable team in the Central Division.

The Indiana Pacers’ biggest needs for the 2021 NBA season still must be addressed. We have no clue what will happen with Oladipo, or what new head coach Nate Borkgren brings to the table.

All we know is that the Pacers were a playoff team last year, they have some nice pieces, and they have some areas where they can improve.

If Indiana can do that, they could still be a playoff team. You can bet on the Pacers to win the title or chase the division crown at the top US betting sites, but the best wager will likely be if they can simply make the playoffs.

Early indications are they’re still good enough to do that, but only time will tell based on their offseason moves.

Noah Davis
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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