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Five Reasons to Watch the Indiana Pacers This Season

Featuring ruminations on Victor Oladipo and ‘The Masked Singer,’ Kevin Pritchard’s ecstasy at acquiring Malcolm Brogdon, and a celebration of Doug McDermott’s time at Creighton

Alycea Tinoyan

In lieu of a traditional franchise-by-franchise NBA preview, we asked Tyler Parker to give us five players to watch on each team. If we want. For reasons entirely his own.

Victor Oladipo, Guard

Sing, sing a song. Make it simple. To last the whole game long.

One of the few players it’s pretty impossible to dislike. Turned himself into a monster. He’s probably well versed in the various complexities of GarageBand. Has probably thought a lot about the coolest way to hold a mic. If it’s me, I’m probably trying to hold it as close to the top as possible. I don’t know what you call the different parts of a microphone but I think you know what I’m saying. I’d hold it right underneath the part you speak into, the part that often looks like Epcot. Though, I guess sometimes you see the old crooners holding it at the very bottom and that projects its own kind of confidence. And I mean the very bottom. Like, holding it with two fingers and a thumb at most. I’m thinking about how Wayne Newton held his mic at the beginning of his performance of “Loving You” in Vegas Vacation. The Midnight Idol knows his way around a mic.

Oladipo ruptured a tendon in his knee last year and is still not sure when he’ll return. Says he’ll be better than ever when he does, though. We’re probably going to focus on his singing the rest of the way. I’m not lazy but I am limited. Sang to The Departed’s Anthony Anderson during the 2018 NBA Awards. Wore a suit Sager would’ve been proud of while he did it. A lot of people on the internet think he’s Thingamajig.

I’m one of them.

Malcolm Brogdon, Guard

Humble Moses is no longer a Buck. Signed with Indy this past offseason. Some wishes come true. Told Indiana during his pre-draft interview he wanted to be a Pacer. Now he is one.

50/40/90 guy last season. Will put the clamps on you. Smart and polished enough to be nicknamed the President. Is nice and good. Has a nonprofit called Hoops2O that raises money to build wells in East Africa. Isn’t known for being bouncy, but during his rookie year he caught LeBron napping.

Did the same thing to Kyrie earlier in the game.

Let’s go to the president of basketball operations for the Pacers, Kevin Pritchard. I might interrupt him some. From Brogdon’s introductory press conference:

“I’m sitting here before you and I’m telling you right now that this is an epic day for our franchise. We created some cap space. We were able to acquire T.J. Warren into that cap space. But you really want your cap space so you can go out there and get something special.”

Pritchard laying it on thick. The man is down with the thickness. Has to make Brogdon feel good. Has to make Warren go, “Wait. What?”

“And in acquiring Malcolm we’ve got that person that we feel like is special. So today is a great day. … At the last minute we were able to get this done and we couldn’t be more excited. We use that word excited a lot but the truth is, this is one of the best days in this franchise’s history. … In an era of all these players coming together and creating master teams or, you know, dream teams …”

Super, Kevin. The word you’re looking for is super.

“… we feel like we have a foundation here of many good players of which Malcolm is a foundational piece. So, it’s a great day and we really are excited.”

Epic, great, special, best, foundational, excited. Think it’s fair to say Kev’s stoked. I don’t blame him. Brogdon’s a beast. Been one for a while now.

Domantas Sabonis, Forward

A nightmare of Lithuanian descent. Sabas’s progeny. Slowly turning into a bull with range. Great instincts. Another guy who validates my belief that every left-hander who plays basketball is good at it. Honestly, if you’re left-handed, and you don’t play basketball, what is wrong with you? You’ve got to be one of the dumbest people on the face of the earth. I don’t care how old you are. If you’re left-hand dominant, get in the gym right now, work hard for a week or two, then enter the draft. Your success is guaranteed. I’m right-handed. It’s all over for me. I suck. You still have a chance to make something of yourself. Stop waiting. Change your life today. When I was younger I thought long and hard about cutting off my right arm so I would be forced to become left-handed and, therefore, make myself a lock to become one of the greatest basketball players in the world. I’m a coward, though. I kept both my arms and now I’m typing this garbage instead of reclining on a gigantic pillow near a pristine beach in Málaga, Spain, with my good-looking family and good-looking friends.

Literally all I had to do was remove my arm and I could have a friend who wears T-shirts with scorpions on the back. My gutlessness has cost me everything. I have ruined my life. I am nothing.

Defenders try, amass troves of weapons, ready rocket launchers, pallets of nuclear warheads, grenades, compound bows, machetes, katanas, Bowie knives, spears, muskets, throwing stars. Sabonis is the foregone conclusion, la fin, the closing of all eyes, adorns his toes with the rings of Saturn.

Jeremy Lamb, Guard/Forward

Came west from Charlotte. Finally out from under the thumb of one of the part owners of Cincoro Tequila. In the same vein as Tom Wambsgans, Matt, and Jonas, he fancies himself a Fly Guy. As we’re all well aware, this means he’s incredibly loyal because when you’re a Fly Guy, you can’t just leave the other Fly Guys. That’s the Fly Guy code.

Spells cool with a “k.” Incubating, rebalancing away from crypto into eco. Overseeing the satellite launch out of Tanegashima. No shots at Charlotte, who I wish success for, but he’ll have to get re-accustomed to being on a team with a chance to advance deep into the playoffs. He probably, right now, at whatever point in time you read this, looks very, very sleepy. Took a picture with the guy who, long ago, made the mix for McDonald’s biscuits. He called him a legend. I agree with him. Wears Oakleys that look like ski goggles. Has a lion on his back. Thinks it’s dope. Calls himself Lambo. Rocker of the Christian Dior visor. Rider of the purple Lamborghini Urus. Dropped one in the bucket from beyond half court against the future champs last season. The shot touched the stars and if you pay real close attention you can hear him call glass.

The bank’s always open for the Fly Guys.

Doug McDermott, Guard/Forward

Friends with Jimmy Butler so we know he has deep pockets when it comes to patience. Probably pretty easygoing, too. Career 40 percent 3-point shooter. Proud member of the Ames Basketball Mafia. One of the greatest Bluejays of all time. Recently inducted into the Creighton Athletics Hall of Fame. That means he’s rubbing elbows with Kyle Korver and Bob Gibson and Anthony Tolliver and Donald “Pinky” Knowles. It’s pretty devastating to me that I don’t have a nickname like that to go by. I’d love to be known as, like, Sparky or Crab or something. Tyler sounds so boring.

Talking about McBuckets gives me a chance to show you Gus Johnson’s call of the beginning of a Creighton-Villanova game in 2014. The Bluejays walked into Nova’s house and opened the game making nine 3s in a row. Bill Raftery was the color man for the broadcast. He called it, quote, “absolutely comical.” Gus climaxes like 30 times during the run and at one point shouts, “You better call a timeout, Jay Wright!” The game took place in January but Johnson treated it like March.

Wright’s game plan came crashing down around him. Ethan Wragge was on some Kevin Pittsnogle vibes here, an aerial show of complete and total destruction. Creighton broke the school record for 3s made in a game with 21. Entering the contest, Nova was ranked fourth in the country. Creighton beat them by 28.