When the Pacers shipped Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder this offseason, they parted ways with their superstar and ushered in a new era of Indiana basketball.
No longer would the team be reliant on a certain player, allowing him to drain the clock on offense to take a shot that only a select number of players can get away with. Gone were the days of lackluster defense being disguised by the electric plays created from No. 13. That way of life was over and it meant a great deal of change was on the way.
Through eleven games, Indiana has started to find its identity in the post-George era. In the short sample size, the Pacers have been at their best when they get all five starters going. It sounds like an easy game plan, but not many teams play that style of ball.
Look at the Cleveland Cavaliers, for instance. Aside from LeBron James and Kevin Love, no other starter is a lock to get into double-digit scoring. Cleveland falls into the same trap that most teams with star power do — which is relying on their main guys to bring home the win for their squad.
That’s not how the Pacers operate this season. Instead, they look to get the whole team involved. So far, everyone is buying in.
“That’s huge, that’s big for us.” Pacers guard Victor Oladipo said after the team’s 124-107 victory over the Cavs last Wednesday. “It’s always great to have contributions from everywhere.”
Oladipo has reaped the benefits of team ball this season, averaging 23 points a game for Indiana. After being traded to the Pacers in the George trade, Oladipo has become a true leader. More often than not, Oladipo is found helping lead the charge on both ends.
Another guy finding success is Thaddeus Young, who is currently averaging 14.6 points a night. Young has played 10 NBA seasons and is looked at as a veteran player who can be counted on for nightly production. He recognizes the way Indiana is handling its business and is confident with the guys next to him.
“Playing together, winning games by committee,” Young said. “Everybody’s trusting one another and any given night, any guy can step up. We have so many guys that are capable of stepping up and giving a big night and helping us get wins.”
With all five starters averaging double-figure scoring, it’s actually easy to see how Indiana is getting it done.
The true test for these Pacers will be getting themselves out of a rut. They stood at 5-6 entering Wednesday’s game at Detroit, and are in the midst of a three-game losing streak.
How they get out of this funk and grow from the setbacks will ultimately be the determining factor on how far the Pacers go.