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Tuesday, Oct. 3
The Indiana Daily Student


COLUMN: Three things the Pacers should do to make it back to the playoffs


The Pacers are in a weird place right now. Optimists would point to the 35 wins last season as an indication that the Pacers will make the playoffs next year. Pessimists would recall the half decade of team disappointment and say that next year would be no different than the last three years: no playoffs.  

While many fans are torn, they can agree on one thing: the Pacers have a lot of room for improvement. With the sixth most cap space in the league and three first round draft picks — one top-10 protected, two late first rounders — the Pacers are primed for an interesting offseason.  Here are three steps the Pacers should take to make it back to the playoffs. 

Step 1: Trade those late first round picks and Buddy Hield for John Collins. 

The NBA is a star-driven league, and the Pacers need some star players. While the core of center Myles Turner, forward Buddy Hield and guard Tyrese Haliburton is sufficient, it's not going to win playoff games in a stacked Eastern Conference. The Pacers should be willing to trade late first-rounders as well as Myles Turner or Buddy Hield for a superstar-level player.  

A prime example of such a player is Hawks forward John Collins. He is an elite rim-protector who is versatile and lethal in the paint and would fit nicely in the Pacers system. According to CBS Sports, Atlanta has been trying to trade Collins since midseason, and the Hawks are desperate. Trading a late first rounder in addition to Buddy Hield, is more than enough to acquire Collins.  

Step 2: Get Jerami Grant in free agency. 

The Pacers’ forward situation was abysmal last year, with Jalen Smith and Aaron Nesmith starting at the positions.  While both are good role players, they should not start. A player that could fill that forward position is Bennedict Mathurin, a star rookie who excels at playing either guard or forward. He played guard since his time at the University of Arizona, and for our purposes, we will assume that he can be the second backcourt option after Haliburton.  

That leaves a gap at the small forward position, and there's no one better in the open market than Jerami Grant, the Portland Trail Blazers’ forward. He can rebound, block, play defense and carry the team when other players are having off-nights. With Grant added to the lineup, the Pacers would be not only playoff-bound but postseason mainstays for years to come. 

Step 3: Draft Jalen Hood-Schifino with 8th overall pick. 

The Pacers would most likely pick in the 7-10 range of the 2023 NBA draft, in Brooklyn, New York, according to an article by DraftKings. That means players like Indiana guard Jalen Hood-Schifino are potentially available to the Pacers. Beyond the obvious storylines and fairytale pairing, Hood-Schifino brings great size and lethal shooting. He would be a great addition coming off the bench for the Pacers. Expect a Mathurin-level production from him if the Pacers draft him. 

Overall, these moves would not make the Pacers true title contenders, but the additions of these NBA players will help the team get into and make noise in the playoffs for years to come. 

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