The Indiana Pacers finished in 13th place in the Eastern Conference last year but are a team in the middle of an ambitious rebuild and will be hoping for a far better showing in the season ahead.
Rick Carlisle is gearing up for his first second season in charge after returning for a second stint as head coach and Indiana have made a few eye-catching moves in the offseason, so there are reasons for optimism for the Pacers fans going into the new campaign.
|What||NBA Season 2022/23|
|Where||USA and Canada|
|When||18th October 2022 - June 2023|
|How to watch||Sky Sports, NBA Pass, bet365's Sports Live Streaming|
|Odds||BOS Celtics +525, GS Warriors +600, LA Clippers +700, MIL Bucks +750, BKN Nets +800|
The Pacers stepped up their efforts to rebuild during the previous campaign as young guard Tyrese Haliburton was recruited from Sacramento, alongside Buddy Heid, with All-Star center Domantas Sabonis heading in the opposite direction.
Haliburton is preparing up for his third season in the NBA and the franchise are building a team around the point guard - but they still have some work to do to create a side capable of being serious postseason contenders.
Indiana attempted to engineer one of the biggest trades of the offseason as they handed a four-year offer sheet worth $133million, the largest in league history, to restricted free agent Deandre Ayton. However, the Pacers were unable to get that deal over the line as Ayton re-signed with Phoenix Suns.
The Pacers were also one of the teams tentatively linked with Brooklyn's Kevin Durant during the summer and those moves, despite the fact they didn't come off, show how ambitious this outfit is.
Indiana may have missed out on Ayton and Durant, but they still made a few impressive moves in the offseason even if they weren't quite the blockbuster deals they had hoped to conclude.
The Pacers did trade star guard Malcolm Brogdon to Boston Celtics but they received a couple of players as part of that deal who should be able to play big roles in their rotation next season, namely center Daniel Theis and third-year guard Aaron Nesmith, while the arrivals of Haliburton and Heid had already made Brogdon expendable. The Pacers also received a first round pick for next year's draft as part of the Brogdon deal.
The Pacers picked up combo forward Bennedict Mathurin in this year's draft with the sixth overall pick and the Arizona product may be able to force his way into the starting line-up as Indiana look to give their younger players a chance.
Haliburton, Heid, Jalen Smith, Myles Turner and Mathurin could be their first choice V, and with the likes of T.J. McConnell, Chris Duarte, Thies, Nesmith, Oshae Brissett and Isaiah Jackson providing further support from the bench Indiana have a chance to make a statement in the season ahead.
Carlisle guided Indiana to the Conference Finals in his first season in charge back in 2004, having done the same with Detroit Pistons in the previous campaign, and spent three further seasons as head coach before moving to Dallas Mavericks.
The 62-year-old oversaw Dallas' first ever championship success in 2011 and had 13 seasons in total as Mavs head coach before returning to Indiana, and with the Pacers he has a chance to build another strong team.
Carlisle boasts an impressive CV and is a coach who already knows the organization well, and Indiana should expect further improvements as they go into his second season in charge in his second spell as coach.
The Pacers start the new season with three games at their Gainbridge Fieldhouse home against Washington Wizards, San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons.
All of those games look like winnable assignments and if they can start the season strongly their next two games should give an indication of whether or not they have any realistic chance of fighting for a top six seed this season as they head to Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls.
The Pacers finished last term with a 25-57 overall record in 13th place in the East, leaving them 18 games behind the play-in places and 21 adrift of the top six and the automatic postseason spots.
Indiana should go into the campaign with renewed confidence but their target should be bettering last season's win total by 10-15 games and helping a few of their younger stars improve, rather than reaching the postseason.
That is reflected in their odds and they are +2800 to reach the playoffs, which isn't out of the question but does appear unlikely. If the Pacers can improve on last year's 25-win season and at least challenge for the play-in places then that would have to go down as a successful year.