"I feel like we're definitely going to be overlooked this year," Turner told SiriusXM NBA Radio on Wednesday, per the Indianapolis Star's Matthew VanTryon. "A lot of people look at us as young team that's going to rebuild, but we're a young team that's trying to compete. We've got a lot of guys who can come in and make an impact right away. I expect to make the playoffs this year."
While Indiana has qualified for the playoffs two years running, regression appears to be in order.
Not only was George dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, but point guard Jeff Teague has taken up residency in Minnesota after the Timberwolves inked him to a three-year, $57 million deal.
The departure of C.J. Miles has also left Indiana with a dearth of sharpshooters, meaning head coach Nate McMillan's attack figures to have a hard time improving on its 15th-ranked offensive rating from a season ago.
And while the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoff picture is wide-open, the Pacers will be fighting an uphill battle to squeak their way back into the postseason party as they search for a new identity sans George.
That said, Turner should be afforded every opportunity to emerge as Indiana's new centerpiece.
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Still just 21 years old, Turner averaged career highs of 14.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks last season while shooting 51.1 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from three.
The only other player who topped 14 points, seven boards and two blocks a night while knocking down better than 34 percent of his threes a year ago was Joel Embiid.
So while the Pacers may wind up on the outside looking in come mid-April, Turner's continued growth should give them reason to be optimistic as they embark on a new era without George.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.