Welcome to the much-anticipated (at least by me) first column on Indy Cornrows for the 2018-19 NBA season. Before I get started I want to thank everybody for their questions. I’m also going to explain the article series’ format: I’ll choose a topic for the week and start with that, followed by some of the other small news bits, quotes, videos, tweets and posts I’ve liked. Articles will end with some mailbag questions.
If you have comments, questions, suggestions et cetera you can tweet me at @friedmanadam5, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop a comment below.
To submit a mailbag question click here or fill out the Google link below:
Now with all the technicalities out of the way, let’s get going...starting with a look at Victor Oladipo.
The two paths for Oladipo
Last season Victor Oladipo undoubtingly made a leap from a borderline-starting shooting guard to a guaranteed All-Star, All-NBA, All-Defense and top 20 NBA player.
While some critics are skeptical that he can repeat his last season, much less improve upon it, just read Sports Illustrated’s explanation for ranking Oladipo as the league’s 20th best player.
Oladipo has reportedly been working even harder on his game this summer and teammates like Darren Collison expect him to be even better. Read this quote from media day.
Let’s say Oladipo does have a better season. He essentially has two paths he can go down in order to become a better NBA player:
Path 1: The Demar DeRozan leap.
During the 2015-16 season, DeMar DeRozan established himself as Toronto’s number one option. He led the Raptors to the most wins in franchise history, averaging 23.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and four assists per game.
But that was just the start. The following season DeRozan made another step as an NBA player, averaging 27.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 3.9 APG.
He was able to increase his points but was also taking 20.9 shots per game compared to the previous 17.7.
Oladipo’s 2017-18 season is remarkably close to DeRozan’s 2015-16. The Pacer shooting guard averaged 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists on 17.9 shots per game.
An argument could easily be made that Oladipo should have actually taken more shots last year, considering his 47.7 percent field goal, 37.1 percent three-point and 79.9 free throw percentages.
If Oladipo increased his shots taken to 21 per game he would have averaged 26.4 points per game.
The “DeRozan Path” is common in the NBA, with players like Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook and James Harden elevating their games in a similar sense.
But here’s the question for Oladipo and the Pacers: Would that be a good thing for the Pacers in long run? A common critique last season surrounded Myles Turner’s regression, with many thinking it was due -- in part -- to his lack of shots taken.
Unlike most budding third-year stars Turner’s shots taken actually dropped, even though the Pacers lost their best two players (Jeff Teague and Paul George).
Some of Turner’s lost shots were due to the additions of sharpshooters like Collison and Bojan Bogdanovic, but a lot had to do with Oladipo taking nearly the same amount of shots George took in 2016-17 (18 per game).
Oladipo also has a different attitude and temperament than Lillard, Westbrook and Harden because of his late blossoming. He takes pride in his leadership and mentoring of guys like Turner.
Just watch this clip from UNINTERRUPTED in April.
Path 2: Efficiency and shot creator
I’m wondering if Oladipo should take a page from the book of players like Steph Curry and Chris Paul to achieve another path to ascendence, where efficiency and creation of shots for others elevated their respective games to superstar status but also satisfied their other offensively talented teammates.
A stat line I would like to see Oladipo averaging is something along the lines of 24 PPG, 8 RPG and 7 APG while taking 17 shots on 48 percent field goal and 40 percent three-point percentage. I’d also like to see him increasing his free throws taken per game from 4.9 to seven.
The best thing...
(start at 12.03 and watch through 13.15)
Do you believe that Myles Turner’s new workout regime and yoga is preparation to play PF, as I feel like he would be doing more weights etc. if he was planning to play C?
Shaun from Darwin, Australia
First, let’s show some videos of Turner’s offseason workouts.
Turner and Drummond are working on their threes#nba #myles #turner #andre #drummond #mylesturner #andredrummond #workout #work #basketball #three #point #shots #offseason #center #centers #big #man pic.twitter.com/nZGAw73Ft2— NBA Posts (@nbaredditposts) August 20, 2018
The biggest storyline for the Pacers heading into the season is whether Turner and Domantas Sabonis can play together. Both players are centers but have different skill sets, which gives the team hope that they can.
Both players have been working on their bodies this summer in order to play together. Check out this Zach Lowe piece.
In order for the two to be successful together, Turner has to play the power forward on offense and center on defense. He’s never really been a post up player; instead, he’s a promising shooter and has shown the ability to put the ball on the floor.
His workout regime seems like an attempt to become more agile and flexible in order to stay healthier. Remember Turner was hurt last for 17 games and never seemed to be in the best shape.
He’s even admitted to eating a lot of fast food. I think a lot of Turner’s change has more to do with his desire to become a better overall NBA player, which could ultimately lead to the nine-figure contract he’ll want next offseason.
Whether he’s playing center or power forward next to Sabonis is sort of irrelevant because he’s going to be the rim protector on defense and then more of a shooter on offense.
Is Ike Anigbogu going to be involved in the rotation this year?
Parker from Fort Wayne, Ind.
Barring an injury to two of Sabonis, Turner and Kyle O’Quinn the answer is...
These next two questions go together:
Who are the possible free agents that the Pacers could be targeting in the Free Agency Summer of 2019? I would like to see them go after a stretch four, as Kevin [Pritchard] said. Someone like Tobias Harris or Al Horford (not a stretch four). And if there is more money available, go after a point guard like Kemba or Goran Dragic.
Eli from Ithaca, New York
Do you think the Pacers will be active during the trade deadline? If so, is there anybody you think they could target?
Sean from South Korea
I think it might be a little too early to discuss 2019’s free agency since the 2018-19 season just started. But I’ll give a quick wishlist of what I want the Pacers to get (I just won’t name players quite yet).
The Pacers desperately need a small forward to alleviate some of the defensive pressure off Oladipo.
While Thaddeus Young was that player last year he’s a 31-year-old on an expiring contract. Bogdanovic is a great player for stretching the floor but to me, he’s always seemed like a really good bench player who’s not quite worthy of a starting spot. However, Bogdanovic significantly improved his defense last year; if he does that again it would ease my doubts about their current lack of depth in this position.
Finding a long-term solution at point guard, since both Collison and Cory Joseph are on expiring contracts.
The answer here might just be Aaron Holiday, but the Pacers could be a really good team if they had a top 10 point guard next to Oladipo. Indiana could look like the Trailblazers, which would be maybe the second- or third-best team in the Eastern Conference today.
It never hurts to add a rotation player.
The Pacers clearly had a goal this offseason: accumulate as many rotation players as possible with their cap space. Nate McMillan said in his media press conference that the Pacers were looking at a nine-man rotation. If this holds that would mean Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott are rotation additions with Lance Stephenson as the only loss. It never hurts to be a deep team, especially in the regular season. Last season Joe Young, Al Jefferson and Trevor Booker all played significant minutes for Indiana -- and none of them are still in the NBA. Toronto won 59 games last year because they legitimately had a 10-man rotation. I’ll say it again: it never hurts to add a rotation player because you never know who might get hurt.