Indiana Pacers’ 2020 Team Awards


Throughout the 2019-20 campaign, the Indiana Pacers displayed a certain level of inconsistency. Between numerous injuries, the league’s stoppage of play, and everything in-between, the Pacers finished as the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference.

While T.J. Warren stole the headlines in the NBA Bubble and both Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon returned from injury, the absence of first-time all-star Domantas Sabonis left the Pacers short-handed in the playoffs. Indiana finished with a 45-28 record but was subsequently swept by the Miami Heat in the first round. 

Shortly after this early exit, the Pacers’ front office announced the firing of head coach Nate McMillan after four seasons. McMillan finished with a 183-136 record, ranking third on Indiana’s list of head-coaching wins. 

With Indiana’s season officially in the books, let’s break down a list of team awards from this past season including MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, and Sixth Man. 

2019-20 MVP: Domantas Sabonis

Perhaps the most obvious choice on this list, Sabonis wins the 2019-20 Indiana Pacers team MVP award. Sabonis flourished after being inserted into Indiana’s starting lineup this year en route to his first-ever all-star selection. 

Prior to leaving the NBA Bubble on July 17 to rehab plantar fasciitis in his left foot, Sabonis carried the Pacers throughout a season in which Oladipo only saw action in 19 games. The seven-footer averaged 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists across 62 games. While shooting just 25.4 percent from three-point range, Sabonis scored efficiently inside the line. He shot 54 percent from the field and netted a career-best 109.9 offensive rating. 

As if Indiana expected this caliber of play, the Pacers gifted Sabonis with a four-year, $75 million contract extension just prior to the start of the regular season last October. 

2019-20 DPOY: Myles Turner

While adapting to the addition of another center (Sabonis) joining the starting lineup, Myles Turner did what he does best– block shots and rebound the basketball.

In addition to scoring 12.1 points per game, Turner averaged 6.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game this year. Sure, those rebound numbers don’t jump off the page, but Turner ranked fifth in the entire league in blocks per game. 

His stronghold defense in the paint helped Indiana earn the sixth-best team defensive rating in the entire league. The numbers don’t lie. Turner’s personal defensive rating was 106.7 while the Pacers’ team defensive rating sits at 107.5. 

Indiana is hopeful that Turner and Sabonis will continue to find chemistry playing alongside each other down low. 

2019-20 MIP: Aaron Holiday 

This award could easily be given out to Sabonis, who upped his season average of points by more than four, rebounding by three, and assists by two. Aaron Holiday, however, also flourished in his second full season with the Pacers. 

The UCLA product saw limited action during his rookie campaign, but with the injury to Oladipo, Holiday doubled his playing time this year. His success on the court cemented this increase of opportunity.

In 24.5 minutes per game this past season, Holiday upped every single metric on his stat line. He doubled his assists to 3.4 per game and nearly doubled his scoring from 5.9 to 9.5 per game. In his rookie season, Holiday shot just 40.1 percent from the field and 33.9 percent from deep. This past year, those numbers also rose to 41.4 and 39.4 percent, respectively. 

Holiday’s career-game came back in November against the Brooklyn Nets when he notched 24 points, 13 assists and six rebounds. Along with increased playing time, Holiday is sure to benefit from continued learning in a backcourt highlighted by Brogdon and Oladipo. 

2019-20 Sixth Man: Doug McDermott 

Doug McDermott, a six-year NBA veteran, enjoyed the best season of his career while coming into his own off the bench. McDermott played 69 games off the Pacers’ bench and set a career-high with 10.3 points per game this season. 

As McDermott has done since his college days, the forward knocked down three-pointers at an impressive rate. He finished fifth in the entire NBA shooting 43.5 percent from three-point range– another career-best. McDermott averaged almost 20 minutes of action per night and added 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists. While stepping into this new role, the Creighton product added one very dependable shooter off Indiana’s bench. 

The Indiana Pacers have yet to find McMillan’s replacement at head coach, but whoever takes over welcomes a cast of young talent ready to take the next step. 

About Adam Taylor McKillop

Adam Taylor is an opinionated, passionate, and experienced sports nut based in New York. He currently writes hoops for The Lead and his personal blog ATM Sports Bank. A former college Sports Information Director and media relations professional, Adam Taylor is moving into the sports journalism field.

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