The Indiana Pacers may have lost in Sunday's crucial game seven against the Cleveland Cavaliers but they can still consider themselves winners after a terrific season that nobody saw coming.
After they traded Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder last summer, the Pacers were widely criticised for accepting a deal that saw them receive Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in return.
They were predicted to be a lottery team but their campaign turned out so much better and many people were made to eat humble pie instead.
Oladipo enjoyed a breakout year where he secured his first All-Star appearance and posted career numbers across the board.
They comfortably made the playoffs and battled LeBron James and the Cavs for seven games before falling short in the end, largely due to the exploits of the best player in the world.
After their 105-101 game seven loss in Cleveland, Oladipo had a strong message to those that doubted Indiana before the season started.
"If y'all don't respect the Indiana Pacers now, I have no respect for you," Oladipo said, per ESPN's Brian Windhorst. "That's just how I feel.
"Nobody thought we were going to be here -- not one person -- but us in the locker room. I feel like we've earned our respect from everyone now."
The 25-year-old carried his regular season exploits into the playoffs as he averaged 22.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.4 steals and six assists per game.
He allowed them to quickly overcome the departure of George and it meant the Pacers didn't have to go into rebuilding mode.
Instead, it was the complete opposite as Indy actually took a step forward this year and became a better team.
"Nobody thought we were going to be here," Oladipo said. "If I told you we were going to be here in October, you'd have looked at me like I was crazy."
The former number two overall pick has now emerged as a star and the leader of this young Pacers team.
He's almost certain to win the Most Improved Player award and it's a testament to the work he's put in over the last 12 months to take that next step as a player.
After spending a year with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, he admitted that playing alongside Russell Westbrook and watching him closely made him a better player.
It's clear to see that the traits he picked up from the reigning MVP are serving him well and he's only going to get better from this moment on.
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