When the Indiana Pacers traded Paul George [VIDEO], a 4 time All-Star, for an average shooting guard in #Victor Oladipo and an underachieving big man in Domantas Sabonis, everyone thought Pacer's GM Kevin Prichard had lost his mind. They were seemingly taking a couple role players for their franchise cornerstone of 7 years. Indiana seemingly threw away the season to grab pieces and rebuild as they would let young players attempt to unlock their potential.

Oladipo's newfound efficiency

So far this season though, Indiana seems to be getting the better end of the deal as Victor Oladipo is putting up 24.5 points per game and become one of the most efficient shooters in the league (48.5% from the field and 44.4% from beyond the arc).

His usage rate this season has risen to 30.7% percent which is the same as that of Boston's Kyrie Irving.

The freedom to run the offense has given him the confidence to become the leader of this Pacers team which seemed headed for a lottery pick just a few short months ago. The Indiana fans who doubted coach Nate McMillian and the criticized the front office for the Paul George trade now stand firmly behind 'Dipo and the team, who, at 16-11, sit comfortably at 5th in the East.

His number of turnovers per game has risen to 3.3 but this is partially due to him becoming the focal point of the Pacers' offense. His turnover rate of 14% is lower than that of many other elite ball handlers including James Harden, LeBron James, and his former teammate, Russell Westbrook.

'Dipo in the hunt for Most Improved Player Award?

One third of the way through the season, there are some quality candidates already emerging for most improved such as the Celtics' Jaylen Brown and Orlando's Aaron Gordon.

Jaylen Brown has been instrumental to the Celtics, a team that currently has the best record in the NBA, but he has one of the best players in the NBA in Kyrie Irving at his side to facilitate the offense and relieve much of the pressure. They would still likely be a top caliber team [VIDEO] without his vast improvement.

Without Victor Oladipo's early season heroics so far, the Pacers would not even be a .500 team. Beyond just his averages, he has single-handedly taken control of games to pull out tough wins. For example, in 3 of Indiana's last 5 games (of which they won 4), Oladipo has scored 30 or more points -- including 33 against the LeBron James-led Cavaliers to scrape out a 4 point win.

Furthermore, his performance in the clutch this season has been sublime, including this dagger from the Cleveland game:

#Most Improved Award