Indiana Pacers: Media Day Roundup

May 16, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers new head coach Nate McMillan speaks to the press during a press conference at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
May 16, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers new head coach Nate McMillan speaks to the press during a press conference at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Pacers are the wild card of the Eastern Conference. With more questions than answers, we learned some key takeaways at the team’s Media Day.

Like many other NBA teams, the Indiana Pacers held media day on Monday. It marked the first opportunity to see the new-look Pacers all in one place and a chance to gauge the state of the team before training camp starts on Tuesday.

While media day has garnered a reputation as a time for players to tell media about how they’re in the best shape of their life, have developed a great jump shot, or how they love their new home, media day doesn’t go without some important developments.

The Pacers enter training camp as a bit of a wild card. With so many new pieces under a new coach who is committed to playing a new style, it’s difficult to have a handle on just what the Pacers will do this season.

Luckily, media day provided the platform for some of those questions to be answered. I was there to hear some of those questions to be answered, giving us a rough sketch of what the Pacers will be this season.

Related Story: 25 Best Players to Play for the Indiana Pacers

What will the rotation look like?

From the jump, new head coach Nate McMillan let it be known who the starters are going into camp.

The starting lineup was no surprise to most, although some wondered if C.J. Miles would replace Monta Ellis in the starting lineup to provide an added shooting threat.

McMillan also outlined the rest of the rotation. Newcomer Aaron Brooks will backup Jeff Teague. Rodney Stuckey remains the backup shooting guard. C.J. Miles remains Paul George‘s backup and will spend some time at the power forward spot.

Al Jefferson will anchor the second unit as the center.

The odd man out appears to be Lavoy Allen, who played 20.2 minutes per game in 79 appearances last year. McMillan explained that it’s hard to have a 10-man rotation in today’s NBA and that he’s spoken to Allen about his place on the team.

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McMillan’s preseason rotation outline also leaves out Joseph Young, Kevin Seraphin, Glenn Robinson III, Rakeem Christmas, Georges Niang, Jeremy Evans, Alex Poythress and Nick Zeisloft.

The biggest revelation from this is that Miles will likely own the backup power forward spot. Expect Paul George or Thaddeus Young to head to the bench early and to split minutes with the second unit.

What can we expect from Nate McMillan?

McMillan will move over to the head coach after spending three seasons as the associate head voach under Frank Vogel.

McMillan is back as a head coach for the first time since 2011-12. He made it clear that he’s not the same coach and that changes in the game have forced him to adapt.

As there has been over the past year for the Pacers, there was an emphasis placed on pushing the pace, something that McMillan’s previous teams haven’t done.

"“We have to reinvent ourselves,” McMillan noted when talking about how the team must alter from their past."

On the topic of reinventing themselves, McMillan spoke of how Monta Ellis needs to feel comfortable shooting three-pointers and how Miles must adjust to be able to play minutes as a power forward.

It was a point of emphasis for the Pacers to be smaller and play faster last season, but they were ill-equipped to do so, resulting in abandoning the strategy. With the pieces seemingly in place, McMillan seems to be 100 percent committed to embracing small-ball.

Just because it’s a new style for a new roster doesn’t mean it’s a rebuild.

Paul George ready to join the league’s elite, both as a player and a leader.

George has now been the face of the Pacers franchise for years, but he’s now adding a new title to his role as superstar: team leader.

George and McMillan both spoke on how important it is that George take his leadership skills to a new level. To prove how serious George is about being a leader, he didn’t accept McMillan’s offer to excuse him from conditioning tests on the first day of training camp.

"“I’m not excited about it,” George said, “but how can I get on my teammates if I’m not on the line?”"

When asked if he felt he was entering a new stage of his career, George replied:

"“Definitely, just going back to being the longest [tenured] Pacer here now. This is definitely a different stage. It’s the same goal I had last year, but no one else sharing the burden of taking on the team, it’s a little difficult.”"

On top of being a leader, George wasn’t shy about where he believes he fits in with the league’s hierarchy.

George also added that this year marks a new stage of his career on the court.

"“I’ve always challenged myself and wanted to be part of the best,” he said. “I’ve always seen myself as that next-level talent, and I think this is really my first opportunity to prove that I’m ready for the task of being that for-sure best player on the court every night.”"

Everyone loves Myles Turner.

It was hard to talk to any of the Pacers for long without them mentioning how excited they were regarding second-year center Myles Turner.

"“I’ve been around him every day. He’s shown me that he’s a special kind of player and I think he has a bright future,” chimed in Turner’s new backup, Al Jefferson."

Jeff Teague was asked about his pick-and-roll partnership with Turner and had this to say:

"“That was one reason I was excited about coming here because I saw him when we played last year. He reminded me of Al [Horford] a little bit. A little more athletic, more energized.”"

New and old Pacers alike all had nothing but positive things to say about the 20-year old big man. After a rookie campaign that showed so much promise, Turner hasn’t stopped impressing those around him.

Not all news regarding Turner was positive, as it was revealed that he is in the NBA’s concussion protocol following being hit with an elbow courtesy of undrafted rookie Alex Poythress.

Next: Indiana Pacers: 2016-17 Season Outlook

Turner’s development will be the key for just how successful the Pacers are this season and by all accounts, that’s a good thing.