Dan Gilbert poked a bear, and he had absolutely no idea what he was getting himself into. When Gilbert mocked the Paul George trade last offseason, he couldn’t have known he was lighting a fire under Victor Oladipo that would come back to burn him. On Sunday, it did.
The Indiana Pacers hammered the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Oladipo dropped 32 points, grabbed six rebounds, dished out four assists and had four steals. In short, he dominated the game. While it’s just one game, it’s clear the Pacers came to play in this series and the Cavs weren’t expecting it.
“I will say that Indiana could’ve done better than that.”
For his part, Oladipo acknowledged that he’d heard the comments:
Oladipo didn’t need any motivation to get better, he’s always been a self-starter that way. When he was in college at Indiana, his offseason workouts were the stuff of legend. He was a three-star recruit who turned himself into an All-American, then the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and now an All-Star. Anyone who knew anything about Oladipo knew this rise was coming eventually. The kid worked too hard and was too gifted to not get to this level.
Here’s the thing, not only was Gilbert wrong about that trade, he was wrong about the Pacers and George. Victor Oladipo is better than Paul George right now and the Pacers are better off with their current roster. There is zero doubt about it.
Oladipo had more points (23.1 to 21.9), assists (4.3 to 3.3) and steals (2.4 to 2.0) per game than George, while also shooting better from the field (47.7 percent to 43.0 percent) and posting a better PER (23.12 to 18.71). Oh, and Oladipo ranked 13th (4.5) in Value Over Replacement Player, while George was 24th (3.3). He was 21st (4.9) in Box Plus/Minus, while George was 50th (2.6). And if you think maybe Oladipo got more opportunities because he played more minutes, you’d be wrong. George played 339 more minutes. That’s roughly seven full games.
Oladipo is the better player right now than George, plus the Pacers also got Sabonis, a 21-year-old who is already a key rotation piece.
Gilbert threw shade at the Pacers for the Paul George trade and that landed straight at Oladipo’s feet, now it’s coming back to haunt him.
Unfortunately for Gilbert, this series isn’t going to go the way he expected. It will not be over quickly and he will not enjoy it. And in the end, he’ll only have himself to blame.