The Indiana Pacers open their season with a blend of veterans and young players set to hit the “rebuild” mode at the best oppurtunity. The key priority for the Pacers will be to put the ball in their new lead guard’s hand: Tyrese Haliburton. Once he is settled, no veteran is safe from asset stashing trades. Keep an eye out for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner 0n constant trade watch. The Pacers are also kicking the tires on a few other younger players, namely Jalen Smith and Isaiah Jackson. Let’s get into their depth chart and see what their roles could look like.
Indiana Pacers Fantasy Preview
|PG||Tyrese Haliburton||T.J. McConnell|
|SG||Bennedict Mathurin||Chris Duarte|
|SF||Buddy Heild||Chris Duarte|
|PF||Jalen Smith||Oshae Brissett|
|C||Myles Turner||Isaiah Jackson|
Point Guard (PG):
The Indiana Pacers are excited to unleash Tyrese Haliburton for an entire season. After trading Malcolm Brogdon to the Celtics, the Pacers intend to give the ball to Haliburton and let him work. As the leader of the offense, Haliburton should flirt with 10 assists per game, while contributing points, threes, rebounds, on great percentages. The key to a top ten year will be maintaining his elite steals (1.7 in 2021-2022), although Haliburton will still be an elite option and worth of a pick in the second round, perhaps even late first. T.J. McConnell should soak up the backup PG minutes and continue to be a low usage specialist in steals with support in assists.
Shooting Guard (SG):
The Pacers backcourt will be split behind two young prospects – Bennedict Mathurin, the 6th overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft, and Chris Duarte, the pacers’ draft selection in the 2021 draft. While Duarte showed promise as a starting NBA shooting guard, the Pacers may elect to go with Mathurin, a more dynamic athlete and a “3 and D” player. Mathurin is more of a dynasty target than someone to target in re-draft leagues. Look for his role to grow later in the season if Buddy Hield is traded. Duarte should have the opportunity to expand on his 13 points per game, but neither NBA player will make major fantasy waves.
Small Forward (SF):
Buddy Hield is the starting small forward for the Pacers and will take on the bulk of the scoring duties for the Pacers. Elite in threes, Hield may also see an increase in playmaking duties, pushing his assists up to around four per game. In the last two months of the 2021-2022 season, Hield averaged nearly 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. If this trend continues, Hield becomes an intriguing value addition to any fantasy team and should flirt with top 60-70 value. Keep in mind Hield is a trade target and could be moved at any time before or during the season. If he is traded, he most likely is forced into a floor-spacing prop with little to no playmaking responsibilities. The backup minutes will most likely be mopped up by Duarte, who is expected to get minutes at both wing spots.
Power Forward (PF):
To acquire Tyrese Haliburton, the Pacers traded away Domantas Sabonis, leaving a hole in the Power Forward position. That hole should be filled by a committee, led by Jalen Smith and Oshae Brissett. Relevant for deeper leagues, the Pacers will look to give talented Jalen Smith an opportunity to develop. A skilled shooter, with the ability to guard and protect the rim, Jalen Smith is a great dynasty or deep-league sleeper. In the last two months, Smith averages 13 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.4 threes, and 1 block in 24 minutes. If Smith continues to get minutes, look for him to have top-80 fantasy player, but try and acquire him after 100. In the same time span, Brissett averaged 30 minutes together, scoring 14 per game with 7 rebounds, and 2 threes per game. Both players should see playing time, especially if Myles Turner is traded.
After signing Restricted Free Agent DeAndre Ayton to a deal, only to have it matched by Phoenix Suns, it is clear the Pacers are trying to move on from Center Myles Turner. Until they do, Turner is the starter and is an elite option as a shot blocker, with scoring, threes, and moderate rebounds to support his value. His shot blocking accounts for much of his value, making him a top 30 player in category leagues. Drafting Turner is a risk due to injury, but Turner will have minutes to produce if he is on the floor. The player to watch is backup center Isaiah Jackson. If Turner is traded, the Pacers might move to develop the 20-year-old rim protector. If Jackson gets 25+ minutes, he could average a double-double with elite blocks. Goga Bitadze looms in a bench role as well. The 7-footer may get spot minutes behind Turner, or be completely out of the rotation. He is a deep-league dynasty selection at most right now.
Key Bench Players:
T.J. McConnell, Chris Duarte, Oshae Brissett, Isaiah Jackson
Isaiah Jackson, Jalen Smith, Oshae Brissett – The youth movement is alive and well in Indiana. Look for the Pacers to start giving minutes to their young players. Their front court will have plenty of opportunity and Isaiah Jackson, Jalen Smith, and Oshae Brissett should soak up the available minutes as the season goes on.
Buddy Hield – It makes sense that the pacers will want to trade Buddy Hield to open minutes for younger players. Hield will be a hot commodity for contending teams. Unfortunately for fantasy purposes, Hield’s role in Indiana won’t be replicated anywhere else. He could have a great start but leave you stranded as a threes specialist later in the season. Draft him appropriately and enjoy the ride.
For more great analysis check out all of our 2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Team Previews!