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Victor Oladipo.

Why the Indiana Pacers may end up winning the Paul George trade

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When the Indiana Pacers traded Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder this summer, they were heavily criticised for the deal they accepted and the players they got in return. 

They were reportedly offered more attractive trade packages by the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics but chose to take the one presented by OKC which saw Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis head to Indianapolis. 

NBA analysts and fans ripped the Pacers for giving up a perennial All-Star for a player in Oladipo who has failed to perform consistently throughout his career and Sabonis who struggled in his rookie year with the Thunder. 

To put it simply, it was considered a disastrous trade that would set the franchise back. But seven games into the season, those critics may now be eating their words. 

Vindication

The Pacers have started the campaign with a 4-3 record and their two new acquisitions have played a huge role in their good start. 

Oladipo currently leads the team in scoring averaging 23.9 points on 49.1 percent shooting and 45.7 percent from three-point range.  

Brooklyn Nets v Indiana Pacers

He is finally proving to be a legitimate offensive threat and is slowly developing the consistency that's been lacking in his game since he entered the league. 

His new-found confidence was on display when he nailed a stunning game-winning three to beat the San Antonio Spurs just days ago.

The former Orlando Magic man scored 11 of his 23 points down the stretch, and between points and assists, he was directly responsible for 16 of the Pacers' final 24 points in that victory.

Indiana's win over the Sacramento Kings last night was the first game in which Oladipo failed to score at least 20 points. 

The former number two overall pick currently ranks in the top 15 in scoring ahead of stars such as Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, John Wall and George himself.

This has all the makings of a breakout year for the 25-year-old as he's now made himself the primary offensive player for the team.

Sacramento Kings v Indiana Pacers

Like the shooting guard, Sabonis has also shown a real improvement and looks like a more confident player. 

He's currently averaging a double-double of 12.9 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. In the win over the Spurs, he put up a career-best 22 and 12 on a perfect 9-of-9 shooting and followed that up with 16 rebounds in the win over the Kings. 

OKC used him mainly as a stretch four and he had a horrible year shooting the ball from deep. Pacers head coach Nate McMillan, however, has utilised his main strength, which is on the block with his back to the basket, and he's excelled so far. 

The 21-year-old looks a lot more comfortable in the Indiana system and sometimes a change of setting can have a positive effect on a player's production and that's certainly been the case for the Lithuanian. 

Los Angeles Clippers v Oklahoma City Thunder

After the departure of Kevin Durant, Sabonis was thrust into a starting role and had a bigger role than he would've expected in his rookie year. 

But he now looks more assured in his sophomore season and it's the Pacers who are reaping the rewards of that now. 

The center's rebounding has been his biggest improvement as he's averaging almost seven more boards per game than he was last year. 

FC Barcelona Lassa v Oklahoma City Thunder - NBA Global Games Spain 2016

When the franchise acquired the duo, general manager Kevin Pritchard said: “Both are winners. That’s why both were lottery picks, that’s why we sought them out to be part of this deal.”

It's still early, but they have definitely brought a winning touch to Indy so far and the organisation may have the last laugh when they look back on the PG13 trade down the line. 

Topics:
Indiana Pacers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
NBA
Paul George
Myles Turner

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