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INDIANAPOLIS – One of the more anticipated Pacers’ seasons in quite a few years is less than a week away from getting underway.
The Pacers wrapped up their four-game preseason schedule earlier this week and their regular season will begin on Wednesday, with the Memphis Grizzlies in town.
Here are six takeaways from the Pacers in the preseason, where their starters played 3 of 4 games:
1. Shooting Touch Back For Victor Oladipo
The All-Star guard was back shooting the ball like we saw him at the start of last season. Oladipo was a 47.6 percent shooter in the preseason, including a notable 44.2 percent from three-point range (10-of-21).
While Oladipo’s shot was on-point, he was a bit sloppy with the basketball, committing around 4 turnovers per game, in just over 27 minutes of action.
Watching Oladipo in the preseason, he looks like a guy serious about taking his game to another level.
The question will be can Oladipo sustain his level of play throughout an 82-game season, with even more defensive attention coming his way?
2. Don’t Forget About Domantas Sabonis
For all the talk about Myles Turner making a jump this season, do not forget about Domantas Sabonis.
Remember, Sabonis was also the 11th overall pick in his draft (one year after Turner went 11th in 2015).
There’s plenty of skill to Sabonis’ game and we saw that in the preseason.
The big man came off the bench to average 15.3 points and 11.8 rebounds in just 23 minutes a game.
Sabonis even showed touch out to the three-point line.
While Sabonis might not have that elite trait or two like Turner (i.e. shooting the 3 or defending the rim), there’s no question he brings a wide range of attributes that the Pacers can use in a variety of ways.
3. Numbers Not There For Myles Turner
The numbers were not eye-popping for Myles Turner this preseason.
He just shot 34.6 percent from the floor in averaging 7.7 points over 22.7 minutes of action.
What you do like is the 5.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in that time on the floor. If you extrapolate those numbers out over more consistent regular season minutes, Turner would be giving you the desired rebounding and rim protection.
However, the offensive punch has to better from the fourth-year big man.
Turner did show off more willingness to make post moves and even finished off a few of them in specific designed plays for him.
4. Pacers Find Rebounding
It’s the No. 1 key for the Pacers in 2018-19.
And the preseason showed they can be a solid rebounding team.
After four games, the Pacers had the third most rebounds in the league during the preseason.
That came with forward Thaddeus Young (foot) only playing in the preseason finale.
It’s not a foregone conclusion this will transfer over to the regular season, but the rebounding initiative message from Nate McMillan did turn into some results during the preseason.
5. Tyreke Knocking Off Rust
The Pacers didn’t receive much consistency from their three summer free agent additions (Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott and Kyle O’Quinn) during the preseason.
Evans missed the preseason opener, but played the final three games, shooting just 31.6 from the floor and 21.4 percent from three.
In recent years, Evans has been a much better three-point shooter, forcing defenses to think twice about automatically going under screens for him, believing that his greatest strength was driving.
There were moments in the preseason where we saw Evans and Sabonis team-up for some nice two-man action on the second unit.
6. Young Guys Flashing
One definite bright spot in the preseason came from what the Pacers got from their young guys.
Guard Edmond Sumner highlighted that with 9 points per game on 66.7 percent shooting. Sumner, who is on a two-way contract this season, looked fully healed from a 2017 torn ACL. The second-round pick from June 2017, Sumner could be in the mix for some outer rotational minutes if the Pacers are banged up in the backcourt. However, the majority of Sumner’s run figures to still be in Fort Wayne.
Forward T.J. Leaf had a nice preseason with 11.7 points and 7.7 rebounds in averaging 30 minutes per game. Leaf started 3 games for the injured Thaddeus Young. With Young back, and Sabonis impressing, it remains to be seen how McMillan will handle the backup 4/5 position. Has Leaf done enough to earn a spot in the rotation?
First-round pick Aaron Holiday showed a nice shooting touch in the preseason, connecting on 7-of-13 from three-point range. Like Sumner, it probably is going to be difficult for Holiday to find consistent minutes at the NBA level, unless an injury occurs. Still, the Pacers have something to groom in Holiday and Sumner.