After winning just 25 games last season, the Indiana Pacers have shown some improvement this year, adding nine to that total in 2022-23 with three games to go. With the now-injured pair of Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner running the point and center respectively and some young talent at their disposal, there is certainly room for optimism in Indiana, but their roster is far from complete. Here are three Pacers trade targets for the 2023 NBA offseason.
John Collins has spent more than his fair share of time on the rumor mill over the past couple of seasons, but despite that he has remained at the Atlanta Hawks, where he’s played each of his six seasons in the NBA. But with the Hawks seemingly mired in mediocrity and Collins’ role continually decreasing, it seems very possible that the end of this season will also mark the end of his time in Atlanta.
The Pacers have plenty of building blocks on their roster, but one thing they lack is a reliable power forward. They have a plethora of lengthy guards and wings surrounding Myles Turner, while guys like Jalen Smith and Isaiah Jackson have the size of a four but don’t really play like one.
Collins would slot straight into their starting lineup and, assuming they don’t have to get rid of Turner to acquire him, create a formidable trio with he and Haliburton, and potentially a dangerous foursome if Bennedict Mathurin continues to develop. Collins could form a potent pick and roll combination with Haliburton, while if he can recapture his groove from long range – he’s shooting just 28.2% from three this season but has been at over 36% each of the three seasons prior, and right around 40% for two of those – will also provide an added outside threat.
Sticking with the theme of the Pacers needing a reliable power forward, the Charlotte Hornets’ PJ Washington is another who could find his hat thrown into the ring. At just 24 years old and only four years into his NBA career, Washington has already demonstrated some solid growth and has room for more.
After averaging between ten and 13 points in the first three seasons of his career, he has jumped up to a career-high 15.7 this season without foregoing much in the way of efficiency. His 34.8% from long range is a career-low, but over his four seasons that number sits at a respectable 36.6%, so he would certainly add another competent outside threat, too. Add to that his versatility on defense, and you’ve got a guy who would slot nicely into a team which is crying out for a player of his ilk.
Washington is a good young player with scope for improvement, and though he is far from perfect, he does align perfectly with the Pacers both in terms of his age bracket, and his playing style.
This one is a little more of a risk, but the potential payoff is probably higher than it is with each of the above names. Isaac is a gifted power forward who would bring plenty to the Pacers – if, that is, he can get on the court.
After being drafted with the number six pick by the Orlando Magic in the 2017 draft, Isaac had a couple of strong years, but since the turn of the decade has managed just 13 games. After returning from a layoff of more than two-and-a-half years he was put on ice just a few games into his return this season, so he wouldn’t exactly be heading to Indiana with a clean bill of health.
His talent, however, is undeniable. When on the floor, Isaac has shown the kind of defensive ability which would see him in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year if he were able to play out even close to a full season. On offense he has his limitations, but he’s certainly not without ability; in his first three seasons, in which he played at least 27 games, he improved from 5.4 to 9.6 to 11.9 points per game, with his field goal percentage jumping from 37.9% to 47.0% in that time.
His otherworldly athleticism means that he is capable of being an elite at-rim finisher, and with Haliburton running the point he’d likely get plenty of opportunities to do just that. His outside shooting needs work, but it is competent enough to demand at least a little attention from opposing defenses.
With his injury history, the floor for Isaac is very low, and a trade for him would come with the possibility of getting virtually no productivity out of him if his ailments continue. But Isaac is still just 25. He has ability in spades and would fill a position of need for the Pacers, and if he got an extended run on the court, he would lift their potential ceiling significantly.
The Pacers have the foundations of a decent team, but while they have a few youngsters who will likely improve, they need more to truly push themselves into the upper echelons of the Eastern Conference. A gaping hole at the power forward position is the most notable area which needs fixing, and it’s for that reason that the above names should be towards the top of the list of players they are targeting in the 2023 NBA offseason.
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