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Orlando Magic v Indiana Pacers

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The further we get into the 2023 NBA Playoffs the more the absence of the Pacers is felt here in Indianapolis. Perhaps it’s the memories of having Pacers playoff games in the weeks leading up to (and sometimes overlapping with) the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.

There’s no question that these last few season spent in the NBA Draft Lottery have been needed for a franchise that for too long has hovered around the middle to bottom of the pack in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

The key to building a contender in a small market is hitting the draft out of the park. Indiana proved more than capable of doing just that with last year’s rookie class. Regardless of where the pick actually ends up, the Pacers will need to do that again if they wish to take advantage of a conference that feels ripe with opportunity if you can be one the fortunate few to earn a playoff spot.

Of course, if the Pacers some how shock the world and win next week’s NBA Draft Lottery then the entire trajectory of the franchise changes with the arrival of international phenom Victor Wembenyama.

The odds are severely stacked against the Pacers, however, so it’s much more likely they’ll have to settle for another weapon from this strong 2023 draft class.

With that said, if Indiana is able to once again put together a home run of a draft, and they can address their desperate need for a high quality two-way wing this offseason, to have the type of 10+ win turnaround that would put them squarely in the playoffs.

As we’ve seen in the Eastern Conference this postseason, all it takes is a spot in the postseason to have a chance at making serious noise in the playoffs.

Now, is it possible that this is just a fluke year and the current powerhouses (like Milwaukee) will return to form next season? Absolutely, but the bar for the Pacers is not championship or bust next season. It’s make a return to the postseason and potentially capture the franchise’s first playoff series win since 2014.

Go look at the Eastern Conference standings right now and, once you get past the Top-4 seeds, tell me that’s not wide open for the Pacers to achieve those goals.

Yes, so much of it depends on how this pivotal offseason goes for Indiana, but the path is there for Pacers’ playoff hoops to return in 2024.

Thursday on The Fan Midday Show Joe Vardon of The Athletic discussed if he feels there’s a power vacuum in the East that could speed up the rebuild timeline for teams like the Pacers.

Joe also talked with us regarding:

  •  which team would be the perfect fit for Victor Wembanyama
  • what the future may hold for notable starts in the East
  • why the Lakers still have the upper-hand against Golden State
  • if the Miami’s current playoff run is an anomaly or a signal of parody in the Eastern Conference

Get the full conversation with Joe Vardon below and don’t miss The Fan Midday Show, weekdays 12-3pm Eastern, on The Fan.

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