The Indiana Pacers lost four straight games after gaining a double-digit lead, but this streak did not continue to five games against the lowly Chicago Bulls as the Pacers cruised to an easy 105-87 win. Continue reading Two-Ahh: Pacers end losing streak with win over Bulls
For the third consecutive game, the Indiana Pacers played terrific basketball in the first half, scoring a ridiculous 75 points tonight.
In the last three games, the Pacers have outscored opponents in the first half 200-166. Continue reading Two-Ahh: Pacers lose third straight game after blowing lead in second half
The Indiana Pacers fell to 5-4 on the season after losing to the upstart Philadelphia 76ers by a final of 121-110.
The Pacers led the game 108-107 after Victor Oladipo hit a 3-pointer, but were outscored 14-2 for the remainder of the game.
Stray Pacervations is intended to shed light on small things and possible trends that happen during Indiana Pacers games. Some good. Some bad. Some in between.
1. Domas Sabonis rebounding and pushing the pace. There are so many things to love about Sabonis’s game already, but this might be my current favorite. When Sabonis grabs a defensive rebound and no defender is near, instead of pausing and finding the outlet pass, Sabonis will immediately turn into a dribble while looking for an open man. It’s a small thing but it helps the Pacers gain a little bit of extra time for their budding transition offense. Continue reading Stray Pacervations: The Good, The Bad and the In-Between
Domantas Sabonis continues his impressive start with the Indiana Pacers.
Within the first seven minutes of the game, Sabonis had nine rebounds to go with six points.
At the end of the first half with the Pacers up 55-30, Sabonis had yet another double double already with 10 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists. Continue reading Two-Ahh: Pacers cruise to easy win over Kings
Tales from the Block: iPacers contributor Ross Blauvelt has half-season tickets in Myles Turner’s fan section: Turner’s Block. In this column, he’ll bring us a look at the games from inside the craziest, loudest bunch of fans in Banker’s Life Fieldhous along with the Born Ready Crew. Today, iPacers Editor-in-Chief Derek Kramer is filling in for Ross.
This is not my first fan-zone experience as I was in the original G2Zone that was only five games and a two-time buy-in to Area 55 during those conference finals years, so I knew what I was getting myself into. Continue reading Tales from the Block: Oladipo lays claim to his city
It’s only been five games, but Victor Oladipo has started off this season better than anyone could have reasonably expected. Except for himself.
“I’m used to people sleeping on me,” Oladipo told Sports Illustrated before the season, “and I’m used to waking people up too.” Continue reading Victor Oladipo warned us this was coming
In some games, the box score simply speaks for itself. In this game, the Pacers box score was a work of art.
The Pacers shot a franchise record 66.7% on their way to 130 points as they beat the Minnesota Timberwolves for their first road win of the season. Continue reading Two-Ahh: Pacers run past the Wolves while setting a franchise record in shooting percentage
In the middle of the third quarter, the Pacers trailed by 21 points, and it looked like the fourth quarter was going to be 12 minutes of garbage time.
But the Pacers had other ideas.
These new-look Pacers refused to give up, cutting the deficit all the way to just two points with 12 seconds to play, but the Heat made both free throws to ice the game and won by a final of 112-108. Continue reading Two-Ahh: Pacers comeback effort falls short against Heat
Without Myles Turner, the Pacers chances weren’t great against a Portland Trailblazers team that won its first game by 48 points without its second-best player in CJ McCollum.
While the Pacers kept themselves in the game for awhile, they couldn’t keep up with the Blazers, who ultimately won by a score of 114-96.
Victor Oladipo provided the highlight of the night with a beautiful finish on an alley oop that made many audibly gasp. Continue reading Two-Ahh: Pacers fall to Blazers
That was fun.
The Indiana Pacers were an offensive juggernaut in their seasoning opening win against the Brooklyn Nets by a final score of 140-131. Continue reading Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick Cap: Pacers race their way to a W with 140 points
Here’s the iPacers team of Contributors Joe Betz and Ross Blauvelt and Editor-in-Chief Derek Kramer here to discuss a few questions to preview the Indiana Pacers 2017-18 season that begins tomorrow night against the Brooklyn Nets. What’s in store for the Blue and the Gold in the dawn of this new era? Continue reading iPacers Discuss: Season Preview
The Indiana Pacers won their preseason opener in Milwaukee by a final score of 104-86. The Pacers ran away with the game in the third quarter where they outscored the Bucks 30-15. Myles Turner and Lance Stephenson led the team in scoring with 17 points each.
While the preseason results don’t matter, this was the new-look Pacers first opportunity to play together outside of practice, and it was an interesting dive into what the Pacers will strive to be in the regular season. Here’s some takeaways from game one:
Myles Turner is going to shoot more threes. A third of Turner’s 12 shot attempts were from beyond the 3-point line. While Turner managed to make only one attempt of his four tonight, it was encouraging to see him look to shoot from distance with confidence. Turner’s defense was also impressive. Turner was active at the rim, looked to consistently be in the correct position, and grabbed nine rebounds. Turner showed some improvement in post defense, forcing multiple misses in the first half, while also showing his great rim protection on multiple occasions with three blocks. Turner’s development is the key for the Pacers to accelerate this rebuilding era, and it’s quite possible he’ll have an All-Star selection coming his way this season.
Victor Oladipo has the greenest of green lights. Oladipo shot it early and often, shooting 8 times in the first quarter. He finished with 15 points on 15 shot attempts (making six). It’s clear that Oladipo will be one of the Pacers first scoring options and may lead the team in scoring, efficiency probably won’t be great.
Lance will make us dance. Stephenson will serve as the sixth man this year and he looked much like the player that he only seems to be in a Pacers uniform. Stephenson was the main ball handler for the second unit and set up Domantas Sabonis numerous times with nifty passes as they’ve seemed to gain some chemistry over the summer as both have spent the offseason in Indianapolis. Stephenson is going to flirt with triple doubles, get hyped, take maddening mid-range jump shots, bully his way to the rim, make some occasional threes. Stephenson finished with 17 points, six assists and six rebounds.
Damien Wilkins looks alright. Old Man Wilkins, complete with gray facial hair, was a questionable free agent signee at 37 years old and being out of the NBA for the past four seasons. Tonight, Wilkins led the Pacers in scoring in the first half with 10 points and finished with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting. He looks like he’ll adequately serve as the backup small forward while Glenn Robinson III is out with his severe ankle injury. While you could still argue that the Pacers would be better served giving those minutes to a young player like Alex Poythress or Ben Moore that need the development time, Wilkins won’t be a liability on the court and should be a good veteran presence while with the second unit. His situation seems reminiscent of Rasual Butler from 2013-14.
He currently looks like a lock to make the roster. Alex Poythress may be a candidate for the final spot as he was the 12th player to enter the game tonight, which would open up one of the Pacers 2-way contract spots for either Jarrod Uthoff or Ben Moore, neither of whom played tonight.
Al Jefferson is going to have to earn his way back on the court. At least for tonight’s game, the Pacers played Sabonis at the backup five and rookie TJ Leaf as the backup power forward. While Less Big Al lost 40 pounds over the offseason and seems more intent on a better season this year, he’s currently the third-string center. It’s possible the Pacers end up deciding that Leaf isn’t quite ready for minutes yet, but at least to start the season (and in training camp practices), Jefferson will be mainly on the bench.
It’s perilous to make many judgments based on the first preseason game (the Pacers showed encouraging signs last year in the first preseason game too), but the Pacers seemed committed to the running style that they’ve been talking about pursuing for years, and Wilkins praised the team chemistry after the game, which has been a struggle for the Pacers for the past couple of seasons as well.
The Indiana Pacers have been in a major state of transition since Paul George declared his intentions to depart the franchise. So how has Kevin Pritchard fared with his moves this off-season?
The iPacers team offers their thoughts on each of the moves here.
The Draft: TJ Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, Edmond Sumner
Joe Betz: B
Drafting T.J. Leaf in the first round was a safe pick. It wasn’t exciting, but as the Pacers front court depth dwindles after releasing Rakeem Christmas and Lavoy Allen into free agency, and with Al Jefferson likely waived at the end of this upcoming season with the last year of his contract only partially guaranteed. Leaf as a skilled big man with developing range is solid. Passing on John Collins and Caleb Swanigan might come back to haunt Indiana, though…(same with O.G. Anunody). No pressure, T.J.!
Adding Ike Anigbogu and Edmond Sumner in the second round elevates this draft grade from a C to a B for me. Both Anigbogu and Sumner were pegged as first round talents going into last season, with Ike even picked to go to the Pacers in the first round by a few mocks leading up to the draft. Sumner’s ACL injury pushed him out of first round discussions almost immediately, whereas many were surprised that Ike slid as far as he did because of his knee ailments.
Anigbogu and Sumner have potential to be steals with starting-caliber talent, and Leaf could become a contributing member off the bench as early as mid-season, though it’s likely he will not play much until 2018-2019.
Ross Blauvelt: B+
Tough to give it a grade now. I’m more the wait and see in 2-3 years how they develop. But off the cuff. B+ for the Pacers. Tough drafting at 18. No real game changers so you have to go for upside. Leaf at 6’10” is a floor stretcher and will play multiple positions. Young and skinny, and maybe not the guy most wanted but his Summer League play intrigued. I expect him to get some solid minutes this year as the 9th or 10th man in the rotation. Maybe an Austin Croshere type? Anigbogu and Sumner are fantastic 2nd round picks. Players with potential if they can stay healthy. That’s what a second-round pick is for. Sumner is the future at PG 6’6″ and athletic. Anigbogu is a beast already defensively, just wait if he develops an offensive game.
Derek Kramer: B-
I don’t love the TJ Leaf pick. Though he showed he has an array of offensive skills in the Summer League, he’s got a long way to go on the defensive end. Unless Thaddeus Young is traded, it’s hard to see Leaf finding many minutes on the court this season as McMillan is unlikely to trust a rookie with no defensive skills (i.e. Georges Niang last season). In the end if he can stretch his range out past the NBA 3-point line, the Pacers found an Austin Croshere-clone at 18 and that’s not bad for where they were picking.
Anigbogu and Sumner are perfect low-risk, high-reward picks for the second round and that raises the draft grade for me. Getting Sumner on a 2-way contract that allows the Pacers to keep his rights while he heals and then plays for the Mad Ants but not take up a NBA roster spot makes it even better. Anigbogu is worth the risk as he could potentially be the Pacers needed enforcer down the line.
Paul George traded for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis
Derek Kramer: C
Paul George and his agent did all they could to torpedo his trade value and this grade would be higher if Pritchard showed the patience that he was preaching after draft night. Ultimately the deal is fine as the Pacers get two contributors that should be starters either immediately or in the near future, but there’s simply no way OKC doesn’t still have this deal on the table a few days later once Gordon Hayward had decided where he was playing. Maybe Ainge still doesn’t make a good enough offer but better to at least hear it out. No draft picks, not even a second-round selection doesn’t help either.
Joe Betz: B-
Paul George, through his agent, deliberately tanked his trade value to make the Lakers offer more appealing. That factor has to be considered when evaluating this trade.
Returning two starters, each lottery picks beginning to enter their prime or several years from their prime, is a solid return for Indiana. Victor Oladipo will begin to enter his prime through his current contract, and Domantas Sabonis started 66 games as a rookie for a playoff team in the West. Both can play and both have room to become better. No trade was going to return a player of Paul George’s caliber—this trade swung for talent and upside, and I think it connected.
This would be higher if the Pacers were able to also return a draft pick, which would at least give the Pacers another asset. Who knows what offers were truly on the table, and who knows if the Pacers might have been able to squeeze out a better deal if they had waited? We can only really judge what the Pacers returned within the context of PG’s desire to be traded—specifically his desire to be traded to LA.
Ross Blauvelt: A-
All those rumors were just that. Rumors. His value was torpedoed by the LA rumors since everyone knew he had to be moved. To get back two former lottery picks. One just a second-year guy who Pritchard sees as a future “Davis” brother enforcer type and the other an athletic SG who most of Indiana already knew. Just like Pritchard said, young, energetic and trending toward upside and surprise type players. You weren’t getting a PG-type player back in the trade and draft picks are even more of a hit or miss thing. This year’s draft felt like everyone in the top 10 were can’t miss prospects but that’s not always the case. A known commodity player is sometimes better than an unknown draft pick. A surprise trade for sure but after it sank in, I’m happy with it. Oh, and bonus keeping PG out west. That OKC vs IND game will be very interesting.
Darren Collison signs 2-year, $20-million deal (Partially guaranteed second season)
Joe Betz: C-
DC’s return shows the Pacers have engaged in a holding pattern in order to find a long-term point guard. His contract allows the Pacers to move away from Collison easily next season, so that is terrific, but Collison’s recent off-court issues cloud my perception of his value in this trade. He is a middle-of-the-pack starting point guard who will not win you many games, but he also won’t lose you many.
Ross Blauvelt: D+
Not sure the thought here. Collison has already be on the team in the past, has off court issues, then with the Joseph signing…. i guess it shores up that position but wouldn’t it be just as good to let Joe Young finally have a crack at the lineup?
Derek Kramer: C
I’m surprised to be the highest grade here. Collison is fine as the placeholder point guard until Cory Joseph or another future becomes the future starter next year, but signing a guy that has pleaded guilty of domestic violence is interesting after waiving Monta Ellis for smoking weed. I’d rather the Pacers have taken a chance on a young point guard like Tyler Ennis or Pierre Jackson, but Collison will be fine for the year or two that he’s here and his deal keeps future cap space open. He shoots much better than last time he was here which will be helpful for the starting unit’s spacing.
Bojan Bogdanovic signs 2-year, $21-million deal (Partial guarantee on second season)
Joe Betz: C+
I like Bojan’s game, but his impact on the floor diminishes greatly if his shot cools. He struggles to defend more athletic wings and bang with more physical fours, so positionally, he is almost always targeted on defense. In some ways, he reminds me of Al Jefferson regarding his potential impact on a game: if he is on, he will sustain your lead or build it, but if he is off, he becomes catastrophically bad. This was the second “holding pattern” signing of the summer. The Pacers will seek long-term point guard and wing options moving forward…you know, just the two positions on the court that make or break your ability to win in the modern NBA.
Derek Kramer: B
Another veteran signing that likely won’t be here long, another fine addition to the team. My only issue with it is if he takes away minutes that should be going to Glenn Robinson III after McMillan said the starting job was Bojan’s to start off when training camp begins. Hopefully this was just a way to motivate GR3. Bogdanovic can shoot and will add spacing. I’d like this move more if he would play small ball four more often than it seems this roster will allow. If not for the CJ sign-and-trade, I’d rather the Pacers have kept Miles instead, but Bojan’s deal is short and very small guarantee on the second season will allow the Pacers to move on if they choose to after just one season.
Ross Blauvelt: B
Losing a shooter in CJ you need a new shooter with this bunch. Bojan is that albeit weaker all around compared to CJ Miles. Only other issue I see is it may take minutes away from Glenn and I really want him to have his shot this year.
CJ Miles sign-and-trade for Cory Joseph
Joe Betz: A
This is potentially the best move of the Pacers off-season so far. Joseph provides a potential long-term option at point guard whose skillset compliments both Turner and Oladipo. He can defend his position, and though he is not a great shooter, teams do have to respect his ability to score. It will be interesting to note if the Pacers like what they see and then bite by offering a multi-year deal, as Joseph does have a player option for the 2018-2019 season. Is Joseph more of a “system” player whose skillset is improved by excellent coaching, or is he talented enough to thrive in multiple environments and roles?
Going into next year, I want Glenn Robinson to earn starting minutes. Is he a starter in this league? Let’s find out. Come on, Nate!
Ross Blauvelt: A
Love this. Would love to still have CJ though too. But seems the Pacers and he were going in different directions. Plus sending him to a winning opportunity is nice for him. Now Joseph, a perennial backup, gives the PG position some stability and possible starter. Definite improvement in the backup PG minutes if that is where he goes.
Derek Kramer: A-
Getting Joseph for CJ Miles is a great deal for the Pacers as they didn’t seem interested in bringing him back. Only an A- because it ends the dream of Lance Stephenson playing point guard.
Bonus Round: Waiving Monta Ellis
Grade: A+ from Everybody
After seeing reports/tweets almost daily from outlets like The Ringer, and even some subtle pokes from those at Indy Cornrows, I wanted to dive into the current contract miasma for NBA talent and see where Oladipo finds himself.
Why do writers flaunt Oladipo’s $84 million price tag or use “20% of the cap” for next season like it’s a bad thing rather than place his contract in context? Did OKC really give him that terrible of a contract extension? Is it really that bad?
No, it’s not. Really. And when Oladipo is at the crest of his prime, it might even look good instead of just fine. Oladipo will make $21 million next season. And the season after that, he will make $21 million. After that, another $21 million. Finally, he will play in one more $21 million year, collecting his last paycheck with this current contract near his 29th birthday.
There are three main reasons this contract is fine (not good, not bad), and two relate to simple math.
- Paying the person you believe will be the number one or number two option most plays places Oladipo in the same pay range as guys like Lamarcus Aldridge ($21.5 mil), Harrison Barnes ($23.1 mil), Dwight Howard ($23.5), Brook Lopez ($22.6), and Nicolas Batum ($22.4 mil). An obvious superior player in Paul George would have made only $19.3 million for the Pacers next season, so the $21 million to Oladipo stings a little, until you remember that George will earn the max in 2018-19 (30% of the cap, or roughly $30 million, for a player with his experience).
- The salary cap historically goes up. This means the Oladipo contract over time continues to look better. In 2017-18, the salary cap will be at $99 million, an increase of about five million dollars from the previous season. This raise was smaller than expected, with earlier projections closer to $103 million, but it did rise, and it’s projected to continue to rise in the next few seasons. Though there will not be a dramatic $24 million raise coming like we saw entering last season, a conservative raise from 99 million to 102 million is projected for the 2018-2019 season. For 2019-2020, we can expect a similarly small bump–the cap is not expected to stall completely, like it did from 2010 to 2012. So that 20% of the cap that Oladipo takes up will get smaller as time goes on.
- Victor Oladipo is entering his prime. He should improve with his increased opportunity in Indiana, and he is already a good player. Is he great? No, but he also isn’t paid like a great player. Can he get better? All signs, historical and commonsensical, point to yes, he can. And the more he improves, the better the deal becomes.
Victor Oladipo is not a superstar. He is also not getting paid like a superstar in the long-term with a max contract and his deal will continue to look better comparatively after the now-budget deals for players like George, Kawhi Leonard (18.8), Jimmy Butler (18.7) and John Wall (16.7) dry up in the next couple of seasons.
Look at some of the middling, average wings that hit free agency in the last two years: Tim Hardaway, Jr. just got a deal worth over $17.5 million per year; Kent Bazemore makes an average of $17.5 million per year at the end of his deal; Allen Crabbe will make $19.3 million this season. Wings get paid in today’s NBA, and Oladipo will have plenty of opportunities to show he’s worth his $21 million as a featured player for the Pacers this season.
Attempting to inflate the OKC-IND trade in OKC’s favor by using next season’s contract number against Oladipo is unfair and a little lazy. Context matters. When players like Detroit’s KCP (18) or J. J. Redick (23) sign one year contracts at that value, it becomes a little easier to see the upside in locking down your starting shooting guard for the long-term, when the Pacers might be good again, at a flat rate, especially when only his deal and Myles Turner’s future extension will be taking up any real space on the Pacers books in just a couple seasons.
The Indiana Pacers roster is starting to take shape after many changes to the team in the first couple of weeks of the off-season.
Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Darren Collison, TJ Leaf, Bojan Bogdanovic, Ike Anigbogu, Edmond Sumner
Paul George, Monta Ellis, CJ Miles, Jeff Teague, Lavoy Allen, Rakeem Christmas
As the Pacers begin their “rebirth,” who are the Pacers going to start next season?
After the press conference introducing Oladipo, Sabonis and Collison, Nate McMillan said the only starters that were for certain were Oladipo and Myles Turner. After that, “we’ll see.”
Today, McMillan said that Bogdanovic will start training camp as the starting small forward. “It’s his job to lose,” said McMillan.
Here’s some different options that TJ Pacers can look at with their current roster:
Start the Vets:
PG: Darren Collison
SG: Victor Oladipo
SF: Bojan Bogdanovic
PF: Thaddeus Young
C: Myles Turner
Currently, it seems this is the most likely starting lineup, though it’s surprising that McMillan didn’t list Young among his for-sure starters when he was among the most important players for the Pacers last season. This may mean the Pacers are looking to move Young before the season. If they move Young, Sabonis likely takes the starting power forward spot.
Start the Youth:
PG: Cory Joseph
SG: Victor Oladipo
SF: Glenn Robinson III
PF: Domantas Sabonis
C: Myles Turner
If the Pacers look to move some of their added veterans at the deadline, this could be the lineup by the end of the season. Robinson seems like the most likely to earn his spot over the incoming veteran as the fourth-year player has consistently shown improvement from year to year and performed well starting in place of George last season. Even if the Pacers keep their roster intact this season, the lineup may end up like the next one before too long.
PG: Darren Collison
SG: Victor Oladipo
SF: Glenn Robinson III
PF: Thaddeus Young
C: Myles Turner
The Pacers would be wise to see if Robinson can handle a full-time starting role before he enters free agency next season. With the way young wings always get paid in free agency, the Pacers have to find out if Robinson is worth investing $15 million per season. If they don’t start him, he may be cheaper next season or he could look for a better opportunity elsewhere.
Let’s Get Weird:
PG: Lance Stephenson
SG: Victor Oladipo
SF: Glenn Robinson III
PF: Bojan Bogdanovic
C: Myles Turner
Starting Point Lance seems to have completely died now that Collison and Joseph have joined the team, but this unit that surrounds Stephenson with shooters could score a lot of points. Oladipo could guard opposing point guards and Stephenson would run the offense. Even with Joseph, Stephenson should be running the second unit most of the time as the first man off the bench.
A Little Less Weird:
PG: Darren Collison
SG: Victor Oladipo
SF: Lance Stephenson
PF: Thaddeus Young
C: Myles Turner
A Little More Weird Super Small Ball
PG: Darren Collison
SG: Victor Oladipo
SF: Lance Stepenson
PF: Glenn Robinson III
C: Myles Turner
Here’s a couple unconventional and unlikely options with Stephenson at small forward.
The Indiana Pacers introduced Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis and Darren Collison yseterday as the Pacers post Paul George era began. Here’s some quotes and what we can takeaway from the press conference.
If you missed the press conference, you can watch it in its entirety here.
Kevin Pritchard on Paul George:
Pritchard began with nothing but praises for what George meant to the organization. We wish him (Paul George) the best. Some great plays over the last seven years. It’s tough, but we have to move on.”
Pritchard says he spoke with George on multiple occasions. It was a private conversation. He said PG wishes the Pacers well and wishes it didn’t go the way it did. “Paul is a very caring person. I think he wishes this would have been a little different.”
Pritchard on Oladipo and Sabonis:
“Both are winners. That’s why both were lottery picks, that’s why we sought them out to be part of this deal.”
Pritchard said he wants tough, togetherness, smarts, fliers, and young players going forward who compete night in and night out. New guys have the balance between rookies and experience. He made it clear that he sought these players out instead of only having teams making offers.
On trade rumors:
Pritchard: Less than 5% of rumors were true. Put out to the media for a reason. Probably not going to happen or wasn’t real. Boston offered the rights to Larry Bird even (joke).
On the team in general:
Pritchard: “I want to build this organization & have five guys that play together. We feel these guys are top-level talent.”
Pritchard: “This is a rebirth. We’re excited about the future. We wanted tough kids & guys who play together…We didn’t want to go down to the bottom. We want to be a competitive team. Everybody’s saying we have to go to the bottom; that’s not true. The Pacers don’t start at the bottom. We want to compete next year.”
Pritchard: Lots of models on really bad, competitive, or cap out. Our focus is on growth in front, with good kids all about the team and a surprise to the upside.
On making the Playoffs:
Pritchard: Until we know what the team is, no limit or ceiling on this team. Not sure what ‘team’ goals are yet. (Vague, but in the east, playoffs aren’t that far off)
More Changes to come?
McMillan: Pritchard isn’t finished building the team.
Pritchard: There are free agents and trades that we’re still looking at. “Shooting is something I’d really like to add to this roster … Shooting is of imperative importance.” (literally an hour later, Bojan Bogdanovic is signed)
On Darren Collison:
McMillan: “He will be looked upon to lead us. Darren will be an old vet to lead this roster.”
Collison on how he’s changed since he was a Pacer the first time: I can definitely shoot better than last time in Indiana and more comfortable as a leader. Time in Sacramento wasn’t ideal.
Welcome back to Indiana Oladipo:
Oladipo: “To come home, there’s no feeling like it. To get off that plane the other day and realize I know where I’m at, there’s no feeling like it. This is where it all started. I’m a Hoosier.” (while wearing a ‘feathery’ cap, hope his jumper this year is feathery)
Did the IU connection influence Oladipo the signing?
Pritchard: Not at all.
Oladipo: IU fans are already there anyway.
Oladipo on if he there’s anything to his game we haven’t been able to see yet: “Just wait and see. (Smirk) Love the opportunity. Nothing like playing for the home team.”
Welcome Domantas Sabonis:
Sabonis: “At first I was in shock, but I’m excited for the opportunity. Ready for the season.”
Pritchard: Sabonis is a “great screen setter” and “underrated passer.” He can be one of five guys on a floor who can make plays.
For a couple of weeks, we heard non-stop rumors about Paul George. Would it be Boston? Maybe some high draft picks, Bradley and plan for the future. Could it be Cleveland? Maybe a 3-team deal with Kevin Love for draft picks again. Maybe Denver? Gary Harris could come back to Indiana. How about Portland? Loads of mid-first-round picks and a role player? Or just ship him where he wants to go in Los Angeles? Late-round firsts and Julius Randle is all they’ll offer? Pass.
Fast forward to June 30th hours before free agency officially starts, and I bet not a single fan or NBA junkie was expecting to hear Oklahoma City and Paul George spoken in the same breath. But Ramona Shelburne tweeted it (Woj was waiting to start his new ESPN gig at midnight) and the madness became reality.
Paul George was going to OKC for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. No draft picks involved in the deal. The Pacers made the trade official today.
While we all have our opinions on Kevin Pritchard should have done or should have taken, we’ll never know what any of the other offers actually were. We’ll hear rumblings, especially from Boston, but only Pritchard knows what he had on the table and why he felt like he couldn’t wait another week before pulling the trigger on the OKC deal.
While the trade has been mostly panned by critics, there are a few things to consider.
First: The draft isn’t a sure fire thing. Sure a top-15 pick is more likely to warrant a higher caliber player, but busts outnumber the success stories in some drafts. A known commodity that has some NBA experience and still has room to grow is sometimes better than an unknown draft pick. Even most of the rumored offered didn’t include a top-15 pick anyway.
Second: The OKC front office is one of the most esteemed in the league. They viewed Oladipo and Sabonis as obviously valuable. They just gave Oladipo a 4-year, $84 million contract extension. You don’t give that to a player you don’t think is any good. And they spent a first-round pick on Sabonis last year and it’s unlikely they were ready to give up on him after just one season.
“We feel very strongly about the potential Victor and Domantas bring to our team and what they mean for the future of the franchise,” said Pritchard in the Pacers statement officially announcing the trade. “Both are highly competitive, highly skilled and both are winners. That is why both were lottery picks, that is why we sought them out to be part of this deal.”
Of the three big names traded in the offseason (Chris Paul, Paul George, Jimmy Butler), Oladipo might be the best over Patrick Beverly and Zach LaVine.
So what are the Pacers getting in Oladipo and Sabonis?
You can read about why you should be cautiously optimistic about Sabonis here.
Victor Oladipo, 25, returns to Indiana where he spent three years collegiately down the road at Indiana University.
With a new era emerging for the Pacers organization, Pritchard has already told us what he wants the new identity for this Pacers team to look like.
“I think if you look at some of the teams that are successful, it gets a little position-less, and they just have flyers all over the court,” Pritchard said in his opening press conference as president of basketball operations. “It’s drive and kick and shoot a lot of threes, and then back on defense you can switch. I’d like to get more to that.”
He also emphasized physicality and toughness.
Let’s start with shooting, Oladipo, who averaged 15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game last season, has been steadily improving his jump shot each year of his career as his shooting percentages have gone up after each season. He’s gone from shooting 41.9% in his rookie season to 44.2% overall and from 32.7% as a rookie to 36.1% from 3-point range.
Despite popular belief to the contrary, Oladipo can shoot the 3-pointer, he’s just incredibly inconsistent. He’s similar to CJ Miles in the past in that he’ll go through stretches where he can’t miss, but then it’ll seem like he hasn’t made a three for weeks right after. These are his monthly percentages splits from long range:
If he can find some consistency with his shot, he might push that 3-point percentage up to 38-40% where defensives will have to respect his outside shot. This will be paramount to his long-term success as a Pacer.
This past season spent alongside ball dominant Russell Westbrook gave him plenty of opportunity to play off the ball and spot up more, albeit at the detriment of his driving preference. His catch-and-shoot ability has definitely improved.
Oladipo is known for having a great work ethic, so if he never finds a consistent shot it won’t be from a lack of trying.
On defense, Oladipo definitely fits the bill as a player that can switch onto multiple positions and in the defensive-minded mold Pritchard wants. He receives a handful of votes each year for the all-defensive teams and he’ll be a definite improvement defensively for the Pacers at the shooting guard position. So long, Monta Ellis.
The fact that he can play both ends of the court is best part about his game. He won’t be a liability on either end though he has room to improve in both areas. Per NBAWowy, the Thunder were a net 7.1 points per 100 possessions better with Oladipo on the court than off.
You just might not want him to be guarding any children.
If he spends time on the court with Lance Stephenson, Oladipo can guard point guards while Stephenson can run the offense on one end but guard bigger wings on the other.
Oladipo can also be a ferocious finisher at the rim as he won the Dunk of the Year at the first NBA Awards show and he’s competed in a slam dunk contest in the past.
As former Pacers player and current announcer Clark Kellogg once said, “Victor Oladipo is like a baby’s bottom, smooth and sometimes explosive.” At times, he does make poor decisions on his aggressive drives as he averaged nearly as many turnovers as assists (2.6 assists and 1.8 turnovers) last season. His assist numbers were career lows; however, that’s due to playing with Westbrook who ran everything in OKC.
But what is Oladipo’s ceiling? He’s now been in the league for four full seasons. Can he become more than a solid starter or rotation player? Is he just a great sixth man? The Pacers have him under contract for the next four years to figure out if he can become more. Time will tell if the Pacers bet on Oladipo was a good one.