3 surprising reasons the blockbuster Siakam trade doesn't make the Pacers contenders

Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors
Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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3) The Pacers defense will still not be good enough

Indiana currently ranks 27th in the NBA with a 119.5 defensive rating. The next worst defensive team that is set to make the playoffs is the Milwaukee Bucks, who have a 116.8 defensive rating (2.7 better than Indiana).

While Siakam does carry a 7’3” wingspan and has the physical tools to be a good defender, since his 2019-2020 season, he has graded out as an average or below average defender. The Pacers also gave up Bruce Brown in this trade, who was arguably their best perimeter defender. In order to truly compete for a title, they will need to improve greatly on that side of the floor, which is unlikely to happen this season.

2) Indiana’s rotation is still extremely young and inexperienced

Playoff success is not always attributed directly to experience, but the vast majority of teams that make a final appearance face some form of trial and tribulation before getting to that point. Additionally, every team that has won an NBA championship dating back to 2007 has had a superstar who is 26 years old or older.

Haliburton is without a doubt becoming a superstar in this league, but he is still only 23 years old. Other potential playoff rotation pieces, such as Aaron Nesmith, Benedict Mathurin, Jalen Smith, Andrew Nembhard, and Isaiah Jackson, are also all 24 years old or younger.