The Indiana Pacers had to overcome a number of challenges to have a successful season in 2020-2021. They had just fired head coach Nate McMillan for failing to make progress and hired Toronto Raptors assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren. It was a risky move considering that McMillan had a good amount of success. However, the organization felt that the team had enough talent to advance past the first round.
At the start of the season, the Pacers were a part of the blockbuster trade that shook up the NBA. The four-team deal that ultimately sent James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets was beneficial for the Pacers. Indiana was able to offload star Victor Oladipo to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Nets guard Caris LeVert. Forward T.J. Warren was injured at the beginning of the season and never returned. Point guard Malcolm Brogdon and center Myles Turner spent time with injuries. The loss of Turner was particularly felt because of his impact as a shot-blocker and rim protector.
The Pacers hired former Dallas Mavericks coach, Rick Carlisle, who is back for his second stint with the team after coaching them previously. Many questions exist about this year’s Pacers squad and we’ve got you covered with our Fact or Fiction series. It features the boldest and biggest claims being made about the Pacers and offers you the answer with a decisive fact or fiction.
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Chris Duarte will Average 18 Minutes Per Game
The Pacers were not active in free agency this summer. Instead, they looked to improve through the NBA Draft. Indiana had the 13th pick in the draft and they selected the Oregon point guard Duarte. He’s a talented guard who played really well. The biggest knock on him in the pre-draft process was that he was older than your typical NBA prospect.
Due to his age and his seemingly NBA readiness, Duarte is going to have a role on this team right away. He may not be the direct backup point guard because of T.J. McConnell, but he is going to find playing time. Duarte has the ability to score and give the bench some life. If the team is not playing well, he’s going to have to be ready right away. Duarte will be a major contributor off the bench and will average 18 minutes per game.
Verdict: Fact, Duarte will average 18 minutes per game
Carlisle will win Coach of the Year
Carlisle is making his return to the Pacers organization, where he was a former assistant and head coach before leaving for the Dallas Mavericks. The head coach won the NBA championship in 2011 with the Mavericks, but he failed to win a playoff series after that. He is getting a fresh start after spending the past decade with the Mavericks. He should be a considerable upgrade from Bjorkgren.
There are some factors that are going to work against Carlisle winning the Coach of the Year Award. While the Pacers do not have high expectations this season, it is hard to find a way to see the Pacers getting into the top six of the Eastern Conference. Carlisle is going to have this team playing better and they will have a better record than last season, but it is not going to be enough to earn him coach of the year honors.
Verdict: Fiction, Carlisle will not win coach of the year
Turner will Be Traded Before the Trade Deadline
There seems to be nonstop speculation about whether the Pacers will trade their talented center, but they have been reluctant to trade him up to this point. Turner is an important piece to this team because of what he brings on the defensive end. If the team were to trade Turner, then the Pacers’ defense could really take a big hit.
With a new head coach, it is not likely that Turner will be traded this season. Carlisle is going to want to see what he has with this team. There’s no doubt that Turner is going to be an important part of that. Brogdon is the only other player on the Pacers that plays at a high level on the defensive end. If Turner were to be traded, the rim protection would be gone. As a result, the Pacers would be worse off.
If Carlisle does not see Turner as a fit after the 2021-2022 season, there is a possibility that the center could be traded in exchange for some other pieces. During the season, however, Turner won’t be traded before the trade deadline.
Verdict: Fiction, Myles Turner will not be traded before the trade deadline
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