Team previews, odds, best bets for all 30 NBA teams

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The VSiN experts have been hard at work this fall, writing up team previews and predictions for all 30 NBA teams, including their favorite individual season win total wagers.

Here are team previews for all 30 NBA franchises:

 

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics

Head coach: Joe Mazzulla (first year)

Additions: Danilo Gallinari, Malcolm Brogdon

Losses: Aaron Nesmith, Daniel Theis

Draft: JD Davison (Round 2, Pick 53)

Projected starters: Marcus Smart (PG), Jaylen Brown (SG), Jayson Tatum (SF), Al Horford (PF), Robert Williams III (C)

It has hardly been a positive offseason for Boston after its berth in the NBA Finals. The Celtics’ offseason addition of Danilo Gallinari was lost for the season due to a knee injury, and starting center Robert Williams had to undergo his own knee procedure which will sideline him for 8-12 weeks. On top of that, it seems Ime Udoka’s time in Boston is all but done after he was suspended for the season. Still, the Celtics are a highly rated team with championship aspirations in a highly competitive Eastern Conference.

The loss of Williams is a massive blow for the Celtics, who are not exactly replete with depth at the center position. Al Horford will be part of the team’s starting five at the beginning of the season, but the rotation behind him will consist of Luke Kornet or Grant Williams as a small-ball option. Perhaps Kornet becomes more effective in a Robert Williams role — being lined up on the worst offensive player and then playing off them as a help defender — but his numbers are not great in his first few years in the league. He is also not the lob threat that Williams is, which eliminates that facet of Boston’s game. Center has become a position which most teams just fill with veteran bodies and put little resources into, but it was an integral part of what the Celtics did last season and the lack of depth at the position will hurt them at times once the regular season begins.

Once the Celtics are healthy, they are going to be a threat to win the Eastern Conference. The addition of Malcolm Brogdon gives them another combo guard who can assist with the playmaking this team was lacking. In clutch minutes last season, Boston had a -9.5 net rating and averaged just 0.977 points per possession, both marks ranking 26th in the league. The Celtics’ offense sputtered in close games, so the presence of Brogdon should help alleviate that issue, and he fits with any combination of Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Those four are each fantastic defenders as well, so even without Williams this team will be able to defend at a very high level. Smart, Brown and Tatum held opponents to 101.7 points per 100 possessions when on the floor together and Brogdon improved Indiana’s defensive rating by 5.5 points per 100 possessions last season. That makes for a very switchable and capable group of defenders, and bettors should expect Boston to finish as a top defensive unit again, especially once Williams makes his way back to the floor.

Boston has the highest win total on the board (53.5) at multiple shops and for good reason, but one must wonder what an extended absence of Williams does from a wins perspective. He underwent surgery at the end of September, and if his recovery takes 12 weeks, we won’t see him on the floor until January. The market rates the Celtics as the best team in the league, and thus their win total is shaded a touch higher than it should be. Given the depth concerns at center and Williams’ absence, it would not be the smartest investment to bet this team Over its win total. 

Win total recommendation: Under 53.5

Brooklyn Nets

Head coach: Steve Nash (third year)

Additions: T.J. Warren, Royce O’Neale, Markieff Morris

Losses: Andre Drummond, Bruce Brown, Goran Dragic, Blake Griffin, James Johnson

Draft: None

Projected starters: Kyrie Irving (PG), Seth Curry (SG), Royce O’Neale (SF), Kevin Durant (PF), Ben Simmons (C)

There is no denying the Nets’ potential if health improves, certain players buy into their roles and all the pieces fall into place. That is a big ask for a team which has shown none of those qualities since coming together, and there is no faulting anyone doubting their ability to be successful. However, if this team finds its potential, the league is in trouble.

Steve Nash has a few options for his regular starting lineup. He could roll with Nic Claxton at center and Ben Simmons at power forward, which could work, though it would put two non-shooters and poor free-throw shooters on the floor together. The defensive potential of that pairing is there, but for the sake of this preview, we have rolled with a lineup which is likely going to be the closing lineup for Nash if it’s available. Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Royce O’Neale and Kevin Durant are all shooters who need to be respected by opposing defenses. O’Neale shot 38.0% on catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts last season and Curry hit 47.0% of those attempts, making them perfect complements to two ball-dominant players like Irving and Durant. Simmons fits well in this offense in a Draymond Green-type role, facilitating and screening as Irving and Durant operate off ball. Simmons and O’Neale also give this lineup two solid on-ball defenders who can take on an opponent’s better offensive weapons. Overall, this lineup has high upside on offense with enough on defense to allow it to be on the floor in clutch minutes.

Brooklyn’s depth could also turn out to be a strength this season. Patty Mills and Joe Harris are career 38.9% and 43.9% 3-point shooters, and both can fill different roles off the bench. Mills played some point guard last season for the Nets — Brooklyn was outscored by 3.7 points per 100 possessions in those minutes — and Harris is an underrated team defender. Cam Thomas is a one-dimensional scorer, but he can handle the ball and facilitation has been stressed as part of his offseason regiment. The signing of T.J. Warren could turn out to be a brilliant one if he can stay healthy. That is not to say the depth is perfect. The Nets lack a true backup point guard with the ability to play downhill and draw fouls, and the roster lacks true centers behind Claxton, as Day’Ron Sharpe is severely undersized for the position. Perhaps Thomas emerges as a better point guard option this season, but one can clearly see some flaws with the team’s depth.

This is an extremely talented roster overall, and when a team has scorers at the level of Irving and Durant, it is going to be a threat to win a title. However, this team has been held down by so much nonsense unrelated to basketball, it’s hard to fault a single person who does not believe this roster will stay intact for an 82-game schedule. That doesn’t even factor in the lengthy injury history of Durant and Irving, who are almost guaranteed to miss an extended period. Are the Nets capable of winning 50 or more games this season? Absolutely. Is it likely given what we know? No. The high win total on Brooklyn is 51.5 at FanDuel and that is a number to go Under on, even at the -142 price.

Win total recommendation: Under 51.5

New York Knicks

Head coach: Tom Thibodeau (third year)

Additions: Jalen Brunson, Isaiah Hartenstein

Losses: Alec Burks, Kemba Walker, Taj Gibson, Nerlens Noel

Draft: Trevor Keels (Round 2, Pick 42)

Projected starters: Jalen Brunson (PG), Evan Fournier (SG), RJ Barrett (SF), Julius Randle (PF), Mitchell Robinson (C)

New York might not have landed both of its coveted targets in the offseason, but it landed one and that makes it a successful summer for the Knickerbockers. The expectations should not be too high, but New York will be a respectable club with a realistic opportunity to find its way back to the postseason by way of the play-in tournament.

When Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson were on the floor together last season, they were outscored by 5.3 points per 100 possessions. Even with Tom Thibodeau on the bench, those four had a defensive rating of 115.8 and opponents took advantage of a poor interior defense which allowed 67.5% shooting at the rim. On offense, they fared no better, ranking in the 36th percentile of lineups in offensive efficiency at 110.5 points per 100 possessions. Despite those pedestrian numbers, the Knicks are running it back once more, but with Jalen Brunson filling the role of point guard. How much better does Brunson really make this lineup? In his minutes at point guard last season, the Mavericks were %plussign% 6.4 per 100 possessions, and he’s a solid passer who assisted on 23.8% of the made baskets when he was on the floor. However, in two of four seasons he made the Mavericks’ defensive rating worse in his minutes on the floor, and last season they gave up 2.7 more points per 100 possessions with him out there. Can he positively contribute to a bad defensive unit like the one New York is going to roll out to start games?

The Knicks’ bench is the best thing the team has going for it, and it is full of young pieces. Third-year player Immanuel Quickley has been stupendous in his time as a pro, and last season the Knicks outscored opponents by 6.7 points per 100 possessions. He improved as a passer as well and assisted on 23.5% of the made baskets when on the floor. If Thibodeau really buys into him as the primary option off the bench, he is a real candidate for Sixth Man of the Year or Most Improved. Isaiah Hartenstein is a great rim protector. When he was on the floor, opponents’ rim shooting dropped by 6.2% and he blocked 3.3% of shot attempts. Obi Toppin is a great offensive asset who injects some speed into the Knicks. New York’s transition frequency increased by 2.7% in his minutes, and in his minutes at power forward, the Knicks were %plussign% 8.0 per 100 possessions. Then there is Quentin Grimes, a young piece who is coming off a brilliant summer in which he led the Knicks to a berth in the Summer League championship.

New York was one of the most overvalued teams in the preseason last year due to an overachieving season that captured the hearts of the betting market. The expectations are not there this year, so we see a consensus win total of 38.5 at most shops. This starting lineup does not excite anybody, but Brunson is a good player and some of the potential lineups we could see him in have potential considering the reserves this team has built up. I hate to say it as the resident “New York Hater,” but 38.5 is too low.

Win total recommendation: Over 38.5

Philadelphia 76ers

Head coach: Doc Rivers (third year)

Additions: P.J. Tucker, De’Anthony Melton, Danuel House, Montrezl Harrell

Losses: Danny Green, DeAndre Jordan, Paul Millsap

Draft: None

Projected starters: James Harden (PG), Tyrese Maxey (SG), Tobias Harris (SF), P.J. Tucker (PF), Joel Embiid (C)

When last season ended, Philadelphia had some clear flaws it needed to address, and the team did just that with the acquisitions it made via trade and free agency. Now the 76ers come into this season better than they were, and with a full offseason to get James Harden acclimated to the system, this team is truly a contender in the Eastern Conference.

The primary issue Philadelphia needed to fix was its production when Joel Embiid left the floor. Last season, the 76ers went from an offensive rating of 116.9 to 109.7 when Embiid left the floor and were outscored by 3.4 points per 100 possessions without him out there. Even the minutes with Harden on the floor but without Embiid were a nightmare (-11.6 net rating), but this season should be better with a deeper bench. De’Anthony Melton is a great option off the bench who averaged 10.8 points per game and shot 48.4% on corner 3-point attempts last season. He can also run the point, and that showed when Memphis was %plussign% 7.8 in the minutes he was at the position. The team also brought in Montrezl Harrell, a dynamic offensive weapon who has improved his team’s offensive rating every season but one when he was on the floor. Danuel House is a decent 3-and-D wing to add to the bench, and with stayover pieces like Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton, Doc Rivers has a much deeper bench than he had last season.

Not only is the depth improved, but so is the starting lineup. When Embiid and Harden shared the floor, this offense scored 124.1 points per 100 possessions and posted a %plussign% 15.8 net rating. Those two should still form one of the more devastating offensive duos in the league, but now they have a true primary defender in PJ Tucker who can also add to the offense with his ability to hit corner 3-pointers (41.0% last season). In our projected starting lineup we have Tyrese Maxey, and he and Harden give the 76ers two ball-handlers on the floor at once. Philadelphia’s transition frequency increased with Maxey on the floor, and he improved the 76ers’ overall efficiency in transition as well as their points added per 100 possessions in the fastbreak. Those four with Tobias Harris, who is a great pull-up shooter (43.9% from 3-point range), give the 76ers’ starting unit versatility in scoring options.

There is no perfect team and Philadelphia is far from that. There are still concerns about the backup center position as there remains no true big behind Embiid, and the defense for this bench is still going to be an issue. However, the top end of the roster is among the best in the NBA, and if Harden finds the version of himself who was an MVP candidate in his first season in Brooklyn, this team is a threat to Milwaukee and Boston in the East. It is surely a threat to win quite a few games in the regular season. The lowest total in the market is 50.5 at DraftKings, a total worth playing at a modest -120 (54.5% implied probability) price.

Win total recommendation: Over 50.5

Toronto Raptors

Head coach: Nick Nurse (fifth year)

Additions: Otto Porter Jr., Josh Jackson

Losses: Svi Mykhailiuk, Yuta Watanabe

Draft: Christian Koloko (Round 2, Pick 33)

Projected starters: Fred VanVleet (PG), Gary Trent Jr. (SG), OG Anunoby (SF), Scottie Barnes (PF), Pascal Siakam (C)

Injuries were the story for Toronto throughout the 2021-2022 season, and they played a huge role in a first-round loss to Philadelphia. The additions the Raptors made in the offseason were few, but they are near-perfect fits for this roster. This team does not project to be among the contenders, but with positive health this will be one of the hardest outs each night and possibly in the postseason.

Our projected starting lineup for Toronto is the one it used most last season. However, the returns were average so it will be interesting to see if Nick Nurse makes any adjustments as the season progresses. When Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam shared the floor, they only outscored opponents by 1.8 points per 100 possessions. Defense was this lineup’s calling card. They allowed just 107.8 points per 100 possessions, 90.7 points per 100 plays in halfcourt settings and were among the best lineups in the league at forcing turnovers (16.9% turnover rate). Those steals turned into points, as this group added 2.7 points per 100 plays in transition off steals last season, and that figures to be one of its strengths yet again. Having said that, offense is not an overall strength for this team and it’s why there is a gap between the Raptors and the elites of the Eastern Conference.

Toronto finished just 16th in non-garbage time offensive efficiency last season (112.9) and what was supposed to be their best lineup averaged just 109.6 points per 100 possessions. This is because they have almost no presence offensively in halfcourt settings. For the season, the Raptors ranked 26th in halfcourt offensive efficiency (91.3) and their most used lineup was not much better at 94.4 per 100 plays. What this team is missing is a true north-south presence which can attack the basket, draw fouls and finish within 4 feet. This team was 24th in offensive free throw rate (17.8) last season and 26th in frequency of attempts at the rim (30.2%). Those are similar figures to what this team has put out each of the last two seasons and its weaknesses remain, so the Raptors will likely finish in the same area of the standings this season.

There is a lot to like about the Raptors. They have a dynamic young piece in Scottie Barnes and they are one of the most athletic teams in the league with length and speed. However, when their best addition is Otto Porter Jr. and the front office does nothing to address its biggest weaknesses, it’s hard to invest in this team’s regular-season and postseason success. The SuperBook has the highest win total on the board at 47 at a -110 price on both sides. Better health should lead to more consistency for Toronto, but to invest in this team to match or surpass its win total from last season is not the way to go.

Win total recommendation: Under 47

Central Division

Chicago Bulls

Head coach: Billy Donovan (third year)

Additions: Andre Drummond, Goran Dragic

Losses: Troy Brown Jr.

Draft: Dalen Terry (Round 1, Pick 18)

Projected starters: Coby White (PG), Zach LaVine (SG), DeMar DeRozan (SF), Patrick Williams (PF), Nikola Vucevic (C)

After a Cinderella start to the season that saw Chicago in control of the top seed in the Eastern Conference for a stretch, the Bulls turned back into a pumpkin in the second half. They went 8-15 SU/9-14 ATS with a -7.1 net rating after the All-Star break, and were unceremoniously ousted from the postseason by Milwaukee. Unfortunately, injuries are already threatening to derail a new season in the Windy City.

Readers of this guide will notice immediately that the projected starting point guard for Chicago is not Lonzo Ball. That is because Ball’s injured knee continues to bother him, and he is expected to be reevaluated in 4-to-6 weeks after undergoing yet another procedure. Billy Donovan has said that point guard will be decided in camp, but for the sake of this guide we have penciled in Coby White. When White ran the offense with Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan on the floor, the Bulls posted a %plussign% 8.7 net rating and averaged 121.5 points per 100 possessions. Statistically, he was one of the better options at the position, is coming off a career year and started 54 games for Donovan in his first season as head coach. That being said, this figures to be a lineup with quite a few shortcomings on defense and it’s likely that net rating is not going to be replicated.

Defense was an issue for Chicago last season, and Ball’s absence was a massive reason why this team finished 22nd in non-garbage time defensive efficiency (114.1). When he and Alex Caruso were not on the floor, the Bulls’ lineups ranked in the 10th percentile of defensive efficiency (119.1) and they were outscored by 3.2 points per 100 possessions. Caruso is healthy as the season begins, so he will be able to raise this team’s floor on that end – he improved their defensive rating last season by 8.5 points per 100 possessions when on the floor – but he is really their lone plus-defender with Ball sidelined. Patrick Williams projects to be a decent defender, but he has yet to have a positive statistical impact on that end of the floor in his career, and Ayo Dosunmu was very poor on defense his rookie season. Even if Caruso plays a full year, it’s hard to see this team finish much higher than it did in the defensive standings.

There were plenty of indicators in the first half of last season that Chicago was not the team its record said it was, and sure enough the Bulls were exposed. This season, they will not have Ball to begin the year, and their defense projects to be much closer to the unit which allowed 117.9 points per 100 possessions after the All-Star break. Having a full season from Patrick Williams will help the Bulls, but his presence does not improve them drastically from a power rating standpoint. There is a wide variety of win totals in the market with the consensus 41.5 available at most shops. However, those who are looking to bet this win total Under should go shopping at SuperBook, where the Bulls have a 43.5 win total at -110 odds. With the Eastern Conference improving around them, it’s hard to see Chicago winning 44 or more games this season.

Win total recommendation: Under 43.5

Cleveland Cavaliers

Head coach: J.B. Bickerstaff (third year)

Additions: Donovan Mitchell, Robin Lopez, Ricky Rubio, Raul Neto

Losses: Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Goodwin

Draft: Ochai Agbaji* (Round 1, Pick 14), Khalifa Diop (Round 2, Pick 39), Isaiah Mobley (Round 2, Pick 49), Luke Travers (Round 2, Pick 56)           

Projected starters: Darius Garland (PG), Donovan Mitchell (SG), Isaac Okoro (SF), Evan Mobley (PF), Jarrett Allen (C)

Cleveland turned heads when it swooped in and acquired Donovan Mitchell in September. The move is one that puts the Cavaliers in the mix for the next few seasons, but they are hardly a perfectly constructed roster this season. Still, they have one of the best defensive frontcourts in the league and a backcourt loaded with talent that will make them a brutal out every night.

Mitchell might be the big name, but the backbone of this team is going to be the frontcourt pairing of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. When those two were on the floor together, the Cavaliers were incredible on defense. Opponents averaged just 105.7 points per 100 possessions, shot 54.4% at the rim and put up 87.8 points per 100 plays in halfcourt settings in those possessions, all numbers which ranked in the 94th percentile or better. However, despite such a dominant defensive output, Cleveland only outscored opponents by a paltry 2.9 points per 100 possessions due to an offense which scored just 108.6 points per 100 possessions. That is where Mitchell comes in. Mitchell gives the Cavaliers a shot creator and scorer that they desperately lacked last season. Darius Garland filled the role admirably, but when he left the floor, it was clear they had no other outlet offensively. In the possessions with Garland on the floor last season, Cleveland averaged 115.2 points per 100 possessions compared to 106.1 per 100 possessions when he was off the floor. Mitchell’s presence clearly alleviates those scoring issues, and there will likely be plenty of lineups in which those two are staggered to give the Cavaliers a primary scorer on the floor as often as possible.

There are still plenty of flaws with this roster though. The one that looms largest is the lack of a true wing that can challenge others along the perimeter. Isaac Okoro is somewhat undersized for that role at 6-foot-6 and he has never been an overly positive defender. He also has no value on offense and opposing defenses regularly played off him, allowing him to take open shots and he could not make them pay as he shot 35.2% from deep last season. The only other player that at least fits the physical profile of a wing is Cedi Osman who has been a turnstile on defense throughout his career. There is also the matter of how that primary backcourt of Garland and Mitchell operate on defense. Cleveland could play a decent amount of drop coverage to mask the defensive shortcomings of its backcourt, but that style has its limitations, especially when your big is not Rudy Gobert. Mobley and Allen are incredible defenders, but their presence can only cover up so much if there are breakdowns at the point of attack.

It is easy to see why the betting markets got so high on Cleveland with the addition of Mitchell. It gives a young, upstart team an offensive star that fills one of the biggest holes on its roster. However, the excitement about the addition of Mitchell is causing the masses to overlook the flaws this team still has when it comes to roster construction. The move of adding Mitchell is one that allows the Cavaliers to build for the next few seasons, not this one. Every win total for Cleveland is set for 47.5 and that is too high for this team. Most might see a team that won 44 games last season and believe that Mitchell adds those four wins this season, but it’s not that simple. Look for this team to stay Under its win total despite the splashy move.

Win total recommendation: Under 47.5

Detroit Pistons

Head Coach: Dwayne Casey (fifth year)

Additions: Kemba Walker, Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, Bojan Bogdanovic

Losses: Jerami Grant, Luka Garza, Frank Jackson

Draft: Jaden Ivey (Round 1, Pick 5), Jalen Duren (Round 1, Pick 13), Gabriele Procida (Round 2, Pick 36)

Projected starters: Cade Cunningham (PG), Jaden Ivey (SG), Saddiq Bey (SF), Bojan Bogdanovic (PF), Isaiah Stewart (C)

Detroit got off to a rocky start in the 2021-2022 season, but the youngsters in the Motor City finished the season strong and they look like a group primed to turn some heads this season. The Pistons may have only gone 10-14 SU after the All-Star break, but they were 18-6 ATS in those contests and at one point covered 10 straight and 14 of 15 games, which is a great indication of growth.

If the Pistons are going to capitalize on the momentum captured at the end of last season, then Cade Cunningham is going to have to pick up where he left off. Due to an ankle sprain, Cunningham missed some time to start the year and subsequently got off to a slow start by averaging 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 38.1% shooting from the floor in his first 29 games. As he got healthier his game improved, and he averaged 19.2 points on 44.2% shooting from the floor over his last 35 games. He improved Detroit’s net rating by 4.0 points every 100 possessions and assisted on 28.2% of made baskets in those possessions. Cunningham is going to be the driving force for this team, but there are still plenty of young pieces that will grow with him. Saddiq Bey has been a great pro since being drafted, and while his efficiency dipped in his second season, he showed growth as a passer (13.8% assist rate) and is a career 39% shooter from the corner. Rookie Jaden Ivey fits perfectly in this lineup as a secondary ball-handler that can play off-ball next to Cunningham or as the primary guard when he is off the floor. Isaiah Stewart has been a decent rebounder (11.2% offensive rebounding rate) and shot blocker (2.2% block rate) in his time in the league as well.

It's not all youngsters either. Bojan Bogdanovic comes over in the offseason via trade and should take over the starting power forward job. Bogdanovic might not be as effective as he once was, but he’s still an efficient shooter who shot 41.4% of his corner 3-point attempts and 38.9% overall last season. Alec Burks is dealing with a foot injury that will limit him to start the season, but he’s a solid scoring threat off the bench who shot 40.5% or better his last two seasons in New York. These two will improve one of Detroit’s biggest weaknesses last season, as the Pistons finished 29th in 3-point percentage (33.2%). Then there is Cory Joseph, who has improved the Pistons’ net rating each of his two seasons with the team and can play some solid defense on opposing guards. He and Cunningham worked well together when on the floor, and the lineup with the most possessions that featured those two posted a %plussign% 4.2 net rating, which is a massive positive for a team like the Pistons.

Detroit has a solid mix of young and veteran players this season and should the youngsters like Cunningham and Bey continue their current trajectory this team is a great candidate to improve on its standing from last season. In the offseason, the Pistons have been one of the movers on the board. Circa Sports opened them at a market low of 26.5 and this team is 29.5 at a vast majority of shops now. There is still some value in that number, but it is very slight and should only be played if bettors can get -110 odds or better.

Win total recommendation: Over 29.5

Indiana Pacers

Head coach: Rick Carlisle (second year)

Additions: Aaron Nesmith, Daniel Theis

Losses: Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren

Draft: Benedict Mathurin (Round 1, Pick 6), Andrew Nembhard (Round 2, Pick 31), Kendall Brown (Round 2, Pick 48), Hugo Besson (Round 2, Pick 58)

Projected starters: Tyrese Haliburton (PG), Chris Duarte (SG), Buddy Hield (SF), Jalen Smith (PF), Myles Turner (C)

Indiana has entered a partial rebuild and its put this roster in a weird spot. There are talented veterans like Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, as well as potential young stars in Tyrese Haliburton and Chris Duarte. Hield and Turner could be traded before the season begins, which would accelerate a youth movement that desperately needs to happen.

The backcourt is a position of strength for this team, and the best piece is Haliburton. In 26 games for the Pacers last season, Haliburton averaged 1.279 points per shot attempt and improved their net rating by 3.2 points per 100 possessions in his time on the floor. He put up 17.5 points and 9.6 assists per game and flashed his potential as a cornerstone piece for Indiana’s future. Duarte had his moments as well, albeit nowhere near what Haliburton showed in his short time as a Pacer. As a rookie, Duarte averaged 13.1 points and 4.1 rebounds on 43.2% shooting from the floor while putting forth some decent play on the defensive end. He’s also a solid rebounder who grabbed 12.1% of available defensive rebounds while on the floor. When he and Haliburton were on the floor, Indiana’s defense allowed just 107.2 points per 100 possessions, and some of those lineups showed real potential on both ends. Rookie Bennedict Mathurin should fit nicely with these two given his ability to shoot and defend, giving Rick Carlisle three young guards with some high ceilings to work with.

While backcourt dept