The Indiana Pacers are flying under the radar and they’re totally fine with that.
As the 2016 – 2017 NBA season starts, the hype around the sport is as high as it has ever been and there are already more than enough storylines to follow both on the court and off. We have a villain, two clear Finals favorites, an MVP race for the ages, and an all-star fighting his organization to get back on the court. Familiar favorites are retiring and new faces are becoming household names to carry the NBA mantle into the next generation. Amid all these narratives and expectations one team seems to have kept out of the limelight, which doesn’t bother them. In fact, it’s probably right where they want to be.
The Indiana Pacers have managed to slide under the radar for the majority of the offseason and the start of the regular season. Over the off season the Pacers acquired Point Guard Jeff Teague from the Hawks in a three team trade, and Forward Thaddeus Young from the Brooklyn Nets. The moves brought Teague back to his hometown roots, got a point guard 3 years younger in the process, and saved the talented 28 year old Young from a struggling franchise. In addition Center Myles Turner is poised for a breakout sophomore year and potentially a Most Improved Player bid as he has secured the starting Center position while averaging 21ppg and 10.3rpg three games into the 2016-2017 season. Lastly team leader and perennial all-star Paul George starts his second full season back after his devastating knee injury two summers ago. And that’s not even mentioned the scoring threat and athleticism of Shooting Guard Monta Ellis.
The Pacers have quietly positioned themselves as a dark horse contender in the East, but their success this upcoming season shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. They are long, athletic, and they can score from all five positions. Teague is in a contract year, back at home, and he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder as he just watched the Hawks pay his replacement 22 year old Dennis Schroder $70 Million dollars. His new teammate Young will be playing on a relevant playoff team for the first time in his career and isn’t afraid of the limelight. We aren’t talking enough about this team but you won’t see that bother any of them. Much like the Indianapolis area this Pacer team isn’t looking for the countries praise and admiration, they are a hardworking, nose to the grindstone group that knows exactly what they are made of.
With this new team seemingly coming together overnight they will have some hiccups and challenges. At the end of the day they will still be competing for second place in the East behind the Cavs but it’s time to give this Pacer team the respect they deserve.