When the Indiana Pacers made their own internal projections, they were nowhere near correct in estimating how many wins they would have this season.
Indiana had 42 wins last season, but traded their star, Paul George, to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. This year, they have won 48 games with one contest left to play.
Howard Beck spoke with team executive Kevin Pritchard about whether the team saw this coming after trading George (via The Full 48):
“In all honesty, no. We thought we had the chance to be pretty good but when I sat down with Chad Buchanan and Peter Dinwiddie and also [team owner] Herb Simon, we talked about what we really wanted to have happen from that trade … I would say consensus was low-30s, very similar to what the rest of the league [would have predicted for us].”
Pritchard said he thought Indiana could overachieve when they got to training camp, though they still internally believed the team would finish with somewhere around 30 wins. However, once they saw what Oladipo was able to produce, they realized that they had a special player on their roster.
According to Pritchard, team ownership was not interested in a full rebuild once they learned George wanted out of Indiana. While they did consider trading for draft picks, they decided to acquire Oladipo because while he’s still young, they felt he was also capable of providing immediate help.
Now, Oladipo seems like a lock to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award and the franchise is back in the postseason. Both Oladipo and the team as a whole exceeded even the most optimistic expectations this year.