On the surface, you’d think signing Jeff Teague, Al Jefferson, and Thaddeus Young would have put the Pacers over the top in the Eastern Conference. However, there is a chance that these moves hurt Indiana more than helped.
Lets focus on the number three for a second. The Pacers were ranked third in the regular season in defensive efficiency last year (even with Monta Ellis in their backcourt). This is because of George Hill and Paul George. Hill is one of the better defenders at his position in the league and was able to compensate for Ellis’s lack on that end of the floor. With Hill getting shipped to Utah and Teague taking his place, Indiana could very well have one of the worst defensive backcourts in the league this season.
In fact, forget backcourts, Indiana might be one of the worst defensive teams depending on which unit is on the floor this season. Jefferson and Young are no better that Teague on defense. So when you have four out of five terrible defenders on the court, don’t expect to stay in games with your defense (which Indiana has done for the last five years).
To Indiana’s credit, their goal was to get better on the offensive side of the ball, and the new additions will certainly help them in that area.
In Portland, McMillion’s team were ranked 29th in offensive pace. Hiring a new head coach with defensive roots is questioned when a team wishes to get better on the opposite end of the floor.
Paul George is superstar in the NBA and there is not denying that. His growth year after year always keeps Indiana in the hurt for a playoff spot. His defensive ability, along with his much improved offenses repertoire, makes him a possible MVP candidate this year. Myles Turner is a young up-and-coming player that showed bright spots last season, which gives Indiana a positive look on the future.
George and Turner are great defenders. One factor that will play into the overall success of this team in the coming year is how they defend as a group.