Team RankingPTS/GOPP PTS/G
Central Division108.5 (2nd)107.2 (4th)
Eastern Conference4th10th
Mejia's Offseason Grade
Though not equipped to do much, the Pacers still managed to get stronger. Danny Granger, provided his knees aren't an issue, should become an immediate contributor after coming over with the No. 17 pick in the draft. The retirement of Reggie Miller should be eased by the signing of coveted Lithuanian guard Sarunas Jasikevicius. Grade: A.
Key Players
Jermaine O'Neal: He suffered through shoulder problems last season, but he had all offseason to heal.
Ron Artest: He is one of the league's top defenders and he's a good offensively player too. Can he keep himself from self-destructing?
Role Playing
Danny Granger, Forward
Veteran rookie: He has earned considerable praise from his teammates, bewildering them with his maturity, and appears to have been a steal as we predicted months ago. Granger is being touted as a Scottie Pippen/Tayshaun Prince-type who will make teammates better and be an asset to the Pacers title pursuits.
Sarunas Jasikevicius, Guard
Vital X-factor: It was a minor coup to land him away from the Cavaliers, the team favored to get him due to his friendship with Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Ultimately, he chose the Pacers due to his desire to win a title, and his experience in big games overseas as well as a deadly jumper should prove valuable, as is the insurance he provides should Jamaal Tinsley struggle through another injury-riddled season.
David Harrison, Center
Imposing presence: He opened some eyes as a rookie despite missing considerable time due to injury, but when he was out there, he certainly looked like he belonged. The burly 7-footer should be an asset during the playoffs and offers a different variable to the center spot than does starter Jeff Foster, who's limited offensively.
Burning Question
Can Ron Artest stay focused and make a substantial difference?
The memories of his part in "the brawl" will haunt him all season, so Artest has to keep his head about him, shake off the distractions and hone in on putting that episode on the backburner through stellar play. There are few matchup problems in the league like him, with his ability to guard pretty much any one on the court giving him a unique advantage. He's just got to keep his mind right and swat away the negatives.
Jamaal Tinsley stepped up his scoring last season, but he may be looking to pass the ball more in 2005-06. (AP)
Team Projections
Projected finish: 1st, Central Division
Projected win total: 52-60
Team MVP:Jermaine O'Neal
Leading scorer:O'Neal
Leading rebounder:O'Neal
Leading assists:Jamaal Tinsley
Top defender: Ron Artest
Stat Rankings
Stat Rank Total
Pts Scored 25 93.0
Pts Against 5 92.2
Rebounds 29 40.1
FG% 27 43.2
PG Jamaal Tinsley
Was quietly having his best season before going down last year.
SG Stephen Jackson
Athletic wing will be asked to help pick up the slack left by Reggie Miller.
SF Ron Artest
He'll likely be the league's most watched figure.
PF Jermaine O'Neal
Now that his shoulders are healthy, don't count out a run at the MVP.
C Jeff Foster
Nursing a sore Achilles' to start the season, he'll be in the mix and contribute with hustle and defense.
Team Depth Chart
Player Movement
Movement Player Pos.
Key loss James Jones SF
Key gain Sarunas Jasikevicius SG
Player Movement Chart
2017-18 Team Leaders
PPGVictor Oladipo, SG24.3
RPGDomantas Sabonis, C8.4
APGDarren Collison, PG6.2
FG%Domantas Sabonis, C54.4
FT%Darren Collison, PG87.3
3P%Cory Joseph, PG44.4
BLOCKSMyles Turner, C51
STEALSThaddeus Young, SF53
MPGVictor Oladipo, SG34.1
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