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Pacers preseason: Time to focus on Oladipo’s actions, not words

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After the first day of preseason work, the Pacers are focused on change for the better this season.

Toronto Raptors v Indiana Pacers Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

The Pacers officially opened their abnormal NBA preseason workouts on Tuesday which will consists of individual workouts with one player and one coach on a hoop at a time. This will last thru Saturday before group player workouts begin on Sunday.

Players will meet with the media throughout the week and to open up things on day one, Domantas Sabonis, Victor Oladipo and Nate Bjorkgren had their Zoom media sessions which were full of all of the normal platitudes and positive vibes we’re used to from past Media Days.

Well, except when Victor Oladipo was asked about his long-term future with the Pacers. Twice the topic was broached during his nearly 28 minute media session. Initially, he said he was raised not to engage in nonsense and was focused on the here and now with his teammates and the organization. Later, asked about his desire to stay with the Pacers, he said it was out of his control.

Obviously, Vic and only Vic can control his desire to stay or not, but we get the point. Vic simply will not give the media what they want in an answer no matter how many times it is asked. There is no need to concern yourself with anything Vic has to say on the topic. As he later admitted, when it is time for business, he will make the best business decision for himself (duh?), but now he is all about giving his best to the Pacers and their new coach.

So, yes Vic will make that business decision with the time arises and from the glowing remarks he had for Bjorkgren and the rest of his teammates, he will no doubt take the best deal he can find, but that may now include a deal from the Pacers moreso than it did this summer.

In other words, just focus on Vic’s action instead of his words.

Other thoughts:

  • Vic was in a jovial, shall I say feathery, mood for much of his media time (especially revealing his thoughts on the “Wat shot” when IU upset Kentucky on a Chritian Watford buzzer beater). He thought the team could surpass the joy they felt during his first season with the Pacers, with the continuity of the roster playing a big role.
  • Vic also addressed his chemistry with Malcolm Brogdon, saying the struggles last year were fueled by a lack of familiarity and Vic’s minutes restrictions while dealing with his knee. He implied they have been talking and are real excited to show what they can do under Bjorkgren’s guidance.
  • Speaking of Bjorkgren, he felt the continuity on the roster would help as he implements a new style of play because the familiarity between the players will allow them to focus on the basketball. He has already started implementing changes in individual work and is confident they’ll be ready to go from game one despite the micro preseason
  • Bjorkgren logged a lot of miles getting to know his players, spending time with Sabonis in Los Angeles and Vic in Miami for example. The first impression on both was quite strong as he left them with a preview of what he wants to accomplish and what they needed to start focusing on to play their respective roles.
  • Sabonis also mentioned the expectation that they will minimize the mid-range twos in an effort to shoot more threes. Sabonis didn’t just mention shooting threes, but shooting threes with confidence. That development for Sabonis would be a game-changer and the when, where and how those he (or any player) gets those shots will go a long way to developing the confidence to become a threat.
  • Sabonis does not have any restrictions lingering from the plantar fasciitis that kept him sidelined in the bubble. He did mention the training staff may have him start out a little slower to build up his workload which sounds a lot like a restriction, but sounds like it would be precautionary instead of necessary.

Key dates for NBA season:

  • Dec. 1-5 - Individual player workouts, essentially four players at a time with one player and coach per hoop.
  • Dec. 1-5 - Media Week, a few players and/or coaches available for Zoom media sessions.
  • Dec. 6 - Group player workouts begin.
  • Dec. 11-19 - Preseason games
  • Dec. 22, 2020 - Mar. 4, 2021 - First half of the regular season
  • Mar. 5, - Mar. 10 - All-Star break

If the league makes it to the All-Star break and all systems are still go, then life will be good for all NBA fans. By that time, the remaining regular season schedule will be out which will take the season through May 16.

Then the playoffs! After day one at the Fieldhouse, the Pacers are not only focused on the playoffs but playoff success.