A MODEST PROPOSAL...
EXPERIMENT WITH DOMANTAS SABONIS AND MYLES TURNER
The Pacers have a versatile roster. They can play smallish with Thaddeus Young or Domantas Sabonis at center and surround them with wings. They can also play big, with youngsters Sabonis and Myles Turner in the frontcourt. That duo didn't see much action together last season, only 269 minutes in 54 games. Nate McMillan owes it to himself to give them a look. Victor Oladipo said, "If we can pull that off, it will be scary," but McMillan has been lukewarm on the idea.
Their size—each is 6'11"—and tools are certainly intriguing. Turner has emerged as a threat from three, though he needs to up his volume. And Sabonis has shown promise as a roll man. The Pacers should have adequate space when both are playing, and the offense will be in even better position this year with the addition of Tyreke Evans as a ballhandler and shooter.
So let Turner and Sabonis play off each other more and see if they develop a chemistry. Indy will have to decide whether or not to re-sign Turner next summer, so the front office should do all it can to find out how well he fits with the current core. McMillan shouldn't turn the regular season into a science lab, but he should seek out some answers on how to mold the team moving forward.
COACH NATE MCMILLAN
2017--18 RECORD: 48--34
PREDICTION: Lose 2nd round
PG DARREN COLLISON
SF BOJAN BOGDANOVICH
PF THADDEUS YOUNG (76 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])
C MYLES TURNER (67 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])
SG VICTOR OLADIPO (20 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])
While averaging 23.1 points, 5.2 boards and 4.3 assists, Oladipo became the first Pacer since Don Buse in 1976--77 to lead the NBA in steals.
SG TYREKE EVANS [NEW ACQUISITION]
PF DOMANTAS SABONIS (79 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])
SF DOUG MCDERMOTT
(*) NEW ACQUISITION
(#) SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING
A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP INDIANA
THEY HAVE a legitimate shot to contend in the East. They're another team that lost to LeBron in seven games. It was pretty damn close.... If TYREKE EVANS is in shape, if he's motivated, I think that's an amazing pickup [at $12.4 million for one year]. What Tyreke did in Memphis last year was unreal. His overall talent can win you games.... VICTOR OLADIPO needs a guy like that in crunch time. You're not going down to MYLES TURNER on the block. Evans is a much more consistent version of Lance Stephenson [who signed with the Lakers]. The offense isn't going to be free-flowing, but you need someone like Tyreke when you're down eight entering the fourth.... With Turner, [the problem] was his body, and now it looks like he's in really, really good shape. You can't put a price on a guy's motor. How often were they playing a back-to-back and he was just out of shape? ... DOMANTAS SABONIS just continues to add more skill. He can do everything, but I don't think he's a true No. 3 guy.... If everyone had the answer to how Oladipo could get this much better at both ends, they would have traded for him. His shooting continues to improve, and that's opened up driving lanes for him. Early in his career you didn't have to respect him as much, especially off the dribble. Now you do.... I wasn't expecting DOUG MCDERMOTT to get that much money [$22 million over three years], but you know what he is: He plays hard, he's a high-level shooter. It's a safe signing. Would I have paid him that much? Maybe not, but I get it.