Victor Oladipo’s first season with the Pacers has been a smashing success. If he can sustain his superb shooting, guest Ian Levy believes he should be an All-Star (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Wikimedia Commons).

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The Indiana Pacers have bounced back from a subpar start to stand 18-14. In an Eastern Conference crowded with many solid, second-tier teams looking to separate themselves from the pack, Indiana is more than holding its own thanks to an elite offense led by Victor Oladipo. Ian Levy, NBA editor and columnist for FanSided and Editor-in-Chief of The Step Back, helps us break down the team he knows best. We’ll cover Indiana’s captivating comeback ability, the sudden emergence of Oladipo and so much more…Who’s your (Hoosier?) favorite podcast for interview excerpts?

6:42-7:28: “If he [Victor Oladipo] can sustain what he’s doing shooting the basketball, especially on those pull-ups, that sort of locks him into this tier where he’s, I’d say, a clear-cut All-Star [and] one of the best shooting guards in the league. So I think that’s probably the hope for the Pacers rather than him somehow getting better than he is now. He’s given them everything they could ask for. And that aggression and passion is such a different aesthetic than the Pacers have had the past couple years. Even when they were good, back in the Hibbert-David West-George Hill-Paul George-Lance Stephenson [days], back in those days, they didn’t have the same sort of kinetic explosiveness.”

17:51-18:17: “It’s funny thinking about him having played with Westbrook, because I feel like, this year, he looks a lot more like Westbrook in that kind of like twitch athleticism sort of burst and explosiveness. But he’s joyful in a way that Westbrook is definitely not. Westbrook is sort of like grim and angry, and Oladipo just seems joyful.”

26:27-26:54: “I think the Pacers have to at least try it [playing Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis together] and see if it can work, because both of these guys are talented and ideally you’d love to be able to hold onto both of these guys for the future. My guess is the best-case scenario is that Turner keeps improving, that’s he’s sort of a fringe All-Star kind of guy, and that he’s your starter and that Sabonis is a nice change-of-pace guy off the bench. Whether Sabonis is happy staying in that role remains to be seen.”

30:37-31:44: “I think they had a strategy going into the offseason, and the plan was we’re going to move George – we’re going to get the best deal we can get – and we’re going to identify a few young core pieces and then we want some veterans that we can put around them to play as competitively as we can without sacrificing financial flexibility down the road. And they didn’t want to completely bottom out like the 76ers, and I think the concern was ‘What does that do to Myles Turner to play on a 19-win team with no shooting around him or a bunch of raw, ineffective defenders who are putting him in bad positions at the rim?’. And I think that was smart. It probably cost them in the draft market at the end of the year, but better for the development of Turner, turns out that it’s worked great for Oladipo, and they’re still in this position where if an opportunity comes up to land somebody big…everybody that they signed is useful to them and useful to other teams too.” 

36:40-36:52: “This year, he [Darren Collison] is free to play in a way that I don’t think he was necessarily free to play in the first time he was in Indiana, to be much more aggressive, to attack much more, to push the ball much more.”

41:47-43:16: “I think he [Lance Stephenson] is like 100 percent instinctual. I think everything that he does on the basketball court is straight from the gut, just emotion and instinct. I don’t think there’s a lot of planning or forethought. He’s just going with it, doing whatever he thinks is right at the moment…He’s definitely still terrible to terrific moment to moment. He’ll make an incredible play and then he’ll make a horrible decision, but it’s sort of been balancing out and it’s been constrained enough that it doesn’t seem like the team is swinging wildly with his wild swings.”

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Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod