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INDIANAPOLIS – The 8-6 start has Indiana on pace for a 47-win campaign this season.

 

While there have definitely been some questions about the Pacers’ start to the year, the win/loss record is on pace for a year that would have this team again challenging for a homecourt series in the playoffs.

 

A strong start on the road, and defensively playing at a very high level, has the Pacers situated in the No. 4 spot of the Eastern Conference after a month.

 

What are some other takeaways from the Pacers’ start to the year?

 

Victor Oladipo Adding To His Game

 

The scoring output has been there, and it’s really been needed, from Victor Oladipo.

 

That alone would have Oladipo on any All-Star ballot and certainly in the conversation for an All-NBA team.

 

But Oladipo’s game in his second season with the Pacers has taken a step forward in a couple of other areas.

 

He’s rebounding the ball and distributing it at the highest of levels of his six-year career.

 

The 23.8 points per game is 15th in the NBA, but he’s also averaging 7.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game, while his turnovers are down from last season. Oladipo is one of just 8 players in the league to average at least that stat line.

 

For the Pacers to take a step forward this season, Oladipo had to do that individually, too.

 

So far, so good.

 

Underwhelming Start For Myles Turner

 

Let’s start with the good from Myles Turner: He is one of the NBA’s best rim protectors and has shown some occasional variety in his post-up game this season.

 

But the bad has outweighed the good from Turner in 2018.

 

He’s averaging a career-low in rebounds (4.8 per game) and his points per game (10.9) is the second lowest of his career.

 

Nate McMillan has not been afraid to shrink Turner’s minutes with a lack of production from the starting center position. The head coach wants to see Turner get back to his strengths: stretching the floor with his mid-range game and knocking down a few more threes. Turner is shooting just 12.5 percent from 3 this year (2-of-16).

 

With how the Pacers are currently built, they have to have more offensive production (and rebounding) from Turner to achieve what many thought was possible before the season started—advancing in the playoffs.

 

Domantas Sabonis Playing Like A Starter

 

One of the NBA’s most efficient players comes off the bench for the Pacers. Of NBA players logging at least 300 minutes this season, Sabonis ranks 6th in the NBA in player efficiency rating. The names above him are Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Nikola Jokic, Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

 

Not a bad group to be involved with.

 

Despite playing only 24.1 minutes per game, Sabonis is averaging 14.1 points and 8.8 rebounds (both career-highs). He’s third in the NBA in field goal percentage (68.3{5cc93c20f90a32e13f8959d57682c5e5d5b1db216370168a8280434e1df7d759}).

 

Sabonis has easily been the Pacers’ most consistent scorer, non-Oladipo division.

 

Nate McMillan hasn’t been afraid to use Sabonis in closing certain games out this season.

 

If Sabonis keeps up this pace, the 22-year-old big man is going to put even more pressure on his head coach to crack the starting lineup.

 

Defense Has Traveled

 

What a start it’s been for Indiana’s defense.

 

The Pacers are currently the No. 2 scoring defense in the NBA (103.0 points per game). That’s amazing, given that Indiana didn’t have much of a roster overhaul this offseason in bringing in guys known for their defense.

 

Rebounding was the biggest off-season focus and the Pacers rank 18th currently in rebounding differential. That’s an improvement from last season.

 

Defensively, the Pacers have played well enough to be even a couple more games above .500. But their offense is just 24th in points per game (105.7).

 

Need More From Starters

 

Victor Oladipo needs more help from his fellow starters in the scoring department.

 

Specifically, Darren Collison and Myles Turner have particularly struggled through the first month of the season. It was unrealistic to expect Collison to match his career-year from last season, when he led the league in three-point percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio. But Collison’s numbers have dipped from three (shooting a career-low 31{5cc93c20f90a32e13f8959d57682c5e5d5b1db216370168a8280434e1df7d759}) and in scoring, too. McMillan has turned to Cory Joseph, in place of Collison, late in several games.

 

Also, Thaddeus Young is averaging in single-digits for the first time since his 2007-08 rookie season. Young’s woeful percentage from three-point land has really shrunk the open areas for Oladipo to operate, too.

 

In general, the poor shooting from Collison, Young and Turner has led to the Pacers being near the bottom of the NBA in early-game production.

 

The Pacers returned the same starting lineup from last season and has used that five for all 14 games this season. This lineup needs more to bring more pace, too.

 

Finding Exact Roles For Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott

 

Like you would expect early in the season, the Pacers have not yet found defined roles/success for two key new additions.

 

Evans hasn’t been the fellow ‘closer’ many expected and has had issues in being a consistent performer, along with being suspended for one game.

 

With McDermott, he’s getting paid $7 million a year to do more than play just 15 minutes per game and average only 5.3 points. The bench needs to do a better job of finding their sharpshooter.

 

The bench has had really promising moments early on, but it’s a group that still needs some fine-tuning.