"Almost everyone that I've talked to, from casual observers to people who really know NBA basketball, think the Pacers are going to better. On paper, they've added a lot of names and offensive talent. Jeff Teague is the obvious one, but also Al Jefferson, and Thaddeus Young ... People don't think George Hill was good for whatever reason. But George Hill is a stud defender. Jeff Teague is nowhere near as good as defensively as George Hill. Al Jefferson is nowhere near as good as Ian Manhinmi defensively, so they're going to miss Mahinmi too. And I know Myles Turner will play more, he's good. But Mahinmi was a stud for them last year ... They kept Dan Burke the assistant who was in charge of the defense there, and hopefully he keeps the defense afloat. But Vogel was the guy holding people accountable for defense, subbing, playing lineups with defensive considerations. And they were always good defensively under Vogel ... Nate McMillian seems like an OK coach, I hear he's a good guy, but his teams in Portland were much better on offense. They played slow so people didn't notice as much, but they were not very good on defense ... So you take away your two key defensive players outside of Paul George, who's a great defender when he wants to be but he conserves energy at times on that end. Take away the head coach who was a defensive-focused guy. I think they'll be better on offense, but the drop-off on defense could negate any gains they make ... If Paul George is your number one playmaker, and if Monta Ellis thinks he's number two, where does Teague fit in? If he's just spotting up, how effective is he? They may end up just benching Monta and playing Teague with CJ Miles at the two and Paul George at the three, which would be fine. ... I do think there will be stretches when George and Monta are off the floor where Teague's playmaking really helps them. ... Paul George is great. He's a top 10 player in the NBA. He's a really good defender, he's a decent playmaker for his teammates. Any team in the NBA would love to have him. ... He's never had a coach who held him accountable to the shots he takes. His shot selection could improve a little bit. If he was in a better ball movement, uptempo offense, that had him understanding how to take better shots, he could be really, really good offensively. But as it is, that's a top 10 player in the NBA. ... Myles Turner is still a little ways away from being as good as people think he is. He's a very good midrange shooter, 18-20 feet, turnarounds from the post, and he'll throw in the occasional three this year. He's a very good rim protector. He'll struggle a little bit in pick-and-roll defense, but he's got a bright future, and he's headed in a really good direction. But is he about to take the league by storm as a 20 year-old? Probably not. ... The story of the season will be how they do relative to expectations. How does that affect the likelihood that Paul George is going to want to stay? He has two years left on his deal, and by the end of the season, he'll have one year left and a lot of leverage .... What was their record last year? .500? I think they're right there again. A game or two, or three, above .500, and they make the playoffs but don't get homecourt in the East."

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.