The Indiana Pacers are fully in rebuilding mode, but they have a lot of exciting pieces heading into 2022-23.
Indiana went into last year with high expectations before falling to 25-57, the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference. The team has since traded away Domantas Sabonis, Caris LeVert and Malcolm Brogdon, creating a fresh start after eight years without a playoff series win.
Tyrese Haliburton represents a key part of the future, showcasing his upside as a potential future All-Star at point guard. Bennedict Mathurin, Chris Duarte and Jalen Smith are among the other young players who can prove themselves as part of the core going forward.
With veterans Myles Turner and Buddy Hield still on the roster and capable of big games, there is plenty to watch for the upcoming season.
Here is the team's schedule for 2022-23.
2022-23 Pacers Schedule Details
Season Opener: Oct. 19 vs. Washington Wizards
Championship Odds: 500-1 (FanDuel)
Full Schedule: NBA.com
Sacramento Kings (First Game: Nov. 30)
Domantas Sabonis spent parts of five seasons with the Pacers, leading the team in win shares in each of the last four years, per Basketball Reference. He earned two All-Star selections in the last three seasons, the only representative from Indiana in that stretch.
After a February trade to the Sacramento Kings, a matchup against the Pacers could be an emotional one for all involved.
The forward was out with a knee injury when the two teams faced off last March, but there will be more chances to compete in 2022-23.
Meanwhile, Tyrese Haliburton showed the Kings what they were missing with a 15-assist, zero-turnover game last year. The guard reached double-digit assists 12 times in 26 games with the Pacers and clearly can be an elite facilitator at this level.
Sacramento chose to stick with De'Aaron Fox at point guard while trading away Haliburton, but this matchup provides an opportunity for the 22-year-old to show they made a mistake.
Detroit Pistons (First Game: Oct. 22)
Just like Indiana, the Detroit Pistons' goal this season is to identify and develop talent for the future. The key for the Pacers will be to prove they are further along in the rebuild than their Central division rival.
The Pistons drafted Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 overall pick in 2021 and then picked Jaden Ivey with the No. 5 pick in 2022, one spot ahead of the Pacers' Bennedict Mathurin.
It could create an exciting backcourt battle between the two teams, one that could last for years.
If Mathurin can outplay Ivey in these head-to-head matchups as rookies, it would certainly give him and the Pacers confidence going forward.
Last year's team had more proven talent, but injuries and midseason trades meant little consistency in the rotation. Oshae Brissett was the only player who appeared in more than 60 games.
This season's team should have a better direction with players they know will contribute.
Haliburton averaged 17.5 points, 9.6 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game after joining the Pacers last year. Jalen Smith averaged 13.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game. Replicating these late-season numbers could go a long way toward finding success in 2022-23.
Brissett and Duarte also came on strong and could help the team on both ends of the court.
The Pacers could still struggle to match up with top teams in the NBA next year, lacking the depth and upper-level talent to compete with elite Eastern Conference squads like the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers.
While Buddy Hield and Myles Turner could be impact players to start the year, it remains to be seen how long they stay with Indiana.
It could lead to a third-straight losing season for the Pacers.
Record Prediction: 29-53
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