Right now, the Indiana Pacers are a woeful 15-29, 13th in the Eastern Conference and six games out from the final playoff spot.
While it would be nice to land a top five pick in the next draft lottery, let's not forget there are still 38 games left in the season.
With that in mind, let's look at 10 ways the Pacers can still make the 2010 playoffs a reality.
(And I don't mean stuff like seven Eastern Conference teams going bust or the Pacers landing LeBron and Kobe before the trade deadline.)
When Dahntay Jones, who averaged just 5.4 points in Denver, signed with the Indiana Pacers, he was expected to be a 'defensive specialist' that will improve the team's defensive mentality.
Well, the Pacers' defense still stinks, but Jones has been an offensive revelation, more than doubling last season's average with 11.5 points a game this season.
However, Jones was far more confident offensively at the start of the season. In the first 16 games, Jones scored in double figures in all but two games and averaged 16.6 points.
In the next 28 games, Jones has cooled off significantly, scoring in double figures only 11 times.
Part of this is due to Mike Dunleavy Jr returning and Danny Granger taking up the bulk of the scoring. But if Jones can find that offensive spark he had at the start of the season, it could give the Pacers a much needed boost, especially as his athleticism is something the team is sorely lacking.
And displaying some of that famous 'Kobe-stopper' defense won't hurt either.
Mike Dunleavy Jr's best season by a mile was 2007-08, when he averaged 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 36 minutes per game.
Of course, following knee surgery, we will probably never see that version of Dunleavy again. This season, Dunleavy returned 13 games in, averaging 12.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists in just 24.7 minutes per game.
While this is reasonable for someone returning from such a serious injury, Dunleavy's shooting percentage has dropped to 0.415, and he is a greater defensively liability than he has ever been.
Hopefully, with more minutes and games to get his legs under him, Dunleavy can inch a little closer to the form he enjoyed a couple of years ago. The Pacers could certainly use an offensive option other than Danny Granger (and Troy Murphy or Roy Hibbert every now and then).
I don't expect much debate on this one.
Last season, despite being edged out of the starting lineup by Jarrett Jack, Ford at least had some decent moments. He averaged a career best 14.9 points and dished out 5.3 assists.
But before he got banished to the inactive list 31 games into the season, Ford was horrible. He averaged just 9.9 points (including 3.6% from three-point range) and just 3.6 assists. This was from a guy who once averaged 7.9 assists in less minutes.
To his credit, Ford has appeared to handle his demotion well and there has been no public whining on his part. However, you can't argue with facts. The Pacers are 6-7 (0.46) since Ford stopped playing, compared to 9-22 (0.29) with Ford in the lineup.
Roy Hibbert has shown flashes of brilliance this season and surprised many at both ends of the floor. Currently, he is averaging 11.1 points, 5.8 rebounds (he needs to work on that) and 1.8 blocks per game.
However, two things prevent Hibbert from becoming the next Pacers All-Star: foul trouble and consistency.
Hibbert has improved from his one-foul-per-five-minutes rate of last season, but occasionally he still gets into trouble with unnecessary fouls. Hibbert is averaging 3.7 fouls per 23.7 minutes (fourth in the league).
In terms of fouls per 48 minutes, Hibbert is ninth with 7.5 (funnily enough the league leader is teammate Solomon Jones, who averages 9.1). Can you imagine the type of damage Hibbert do can with with 35 minutes of action per game?
Hibbert has also been good for stretches, but there have been nights where he has inexplicably been an absolute non-factor. In the 21 games Hibbert has scored in double figures, the Pacers are a respectable 11-10.
On the other hand, where Hibbert has failed to reach double digits, the Pacers are a miserable 4-19. If Hibbert can find some consistency in his game, he could easily be a 16, 8, and 2 guy (or better). More importantly, the Pacers will be a much better team.
Let's face it, apart from Danny Granger, Troy Murphy is the only Pacer that any other team would want.
There have been a few trade rumors surrounding Murphy in the lead up to the trade deadline (mostly with the Cavs), but the Pacers really can't afford to lose him. Not now.
I know Murphy isn't exactly a great defensive talent, but he's the closest thing the Pacers have to a consistent second option. Despite missing a couple of stretches due to injury (back and ankle), Murphy is rounding into the supreme form he was in last season.
He is currently averaging 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game (including 14.7 points and 11.9 rebounds in the last 10 games after returning from his most recent injury).
The Pacers are a -3.5 rebounding team and are second last in the league in terms of offensive rebounding percentage - and Murphy is by far their best rebounder (Roy Hibbert is a distant second with 5.8).
So unless the Cavs want to give up LeBron James in return, the Pacers would be best advised to keep Murphy for now if they want a chance of making the playoffs.
In the final 13 games of last season, Brandon Rush showed the type of player he could be when he averaged 16.9 points shooting 53 percent from the field.
This season (well, at least until the last six games), Rush has regressed so far that everyone was ready to call the 13th pick of the 2008 draft a massive bust. Rush had been lost on defense, ineffective on offense, and looking like he didn't even belong in the NBA. He couldn't even hit his free throws.
For the Pacers to have a chance of reaching the playoffs, Rush needs to channel the player he was at the end of last season and do it on a consistent basis.
There have been some optimistic signs that Rush has finally turned the corner. Rush has been playing a lot more aggressively as of late and is averaging 12.7 points over the last six games.
Most of all, he has found his shooting stroke (63 percent from the field and 100 percent from the line) over that stretch. Let's hope he can keep this up.
AJ Price has not been playing like second round draft pick lately.
Used sparingly in 2009, AJ Price has stepped up to the plate in 2010. The rookie point guard is averaging 10.6 points and 2.8 assists in the new year, and he's doing it in under 21 minutes a game.
More importantly, Price has been hitting big shots for the team when they count the most. With TJ Ford banished, this is a great opportunity for Price to develop into the kind of point guard the Pacers have been hoping for. He may not be the long term solution, but the more the Pacers play Price, the greater chance they have of making the playoffs this season.
The Pacers are the seventh worst road team in the NBA at just 5-18 away from Conseco Fieldhouse.
There's no easy fix for this, but to make the playoffs, the Pacers need to find a way to win on the road. And it all starts with mentality.
The Pacers seem to lack the confidence to go into an opponent's building and compete like they actually want to win. Too often they fall behind big in the first quarter and never give themselves a chance.
Jim O'Brien needs to find some way of getting his team ready for the road, and kneeling on a towel (see pic) isn't going to do the trick.
Winning a few more at home (where they are 10-11) won't hurt either.
Like most years of late, the Pacers haven't had much luck on the injury front this season.
Leading scorer Danny Granger has missed 17 games with a foot injury. Leading rebounder Troy Murphy has missed 10 games with back and ankle troubles. Mike Dunleavy Jr missed the first 13 games of the season and is still finding his legs coming back from knee surgery.
Tyler Hansbrough has only played in 29 games this season and continues to be bothered by an ear infection. Jeff Foster and Travis Diener have both missed the majority of the season.
Let's face it, the Pacers are by no means a lock for the playoffs without these injuries. But if the core of the team can stay healthy for the remainder of the season and gel (very quickly), that will at least give them a shot.
Before the start of the 2009-10 season, all the Indiana Pacers could talk about was the new and improved defense, the focus on developing a defensive team mentality, the new defensive-minded signings who will instill that belief in the existing players...blah blah blah...
Well, 44 games into the season and the Pacers are giving up 104.2 points per game, good for sixth last in the league. From a strict numbers standpoint, the Pacers have improved defensively because they gave up 106.2 points per game last season, which was fifth worst in the NBA, but at least they scored 105.1 points down the other end.
This season, the Pacers are only averaging 99 points per game. The -5.2 point differential is the third worst in the league. So not only have they not improved much defensively, the Pacers have regressed significantly on the offensive end too.
While some of the blame must go to coach O'Brien, at the end of the day, it's the players who have to go out there and defend. Right now, there's no intimidation factor when opponents play the Pacers. They feel like (and they do) seem to slash into the lane whenever they want and put up shots without fear.
The recent drubbings at the hands of New York, Orlando and Miami are perfect examples.
Every single player will have to step up defensively if the Pacers even want to have a sniff of the playoffs. No one expects Mike Dunleavy Jr or Troy Murphy to be great defenders, so it's up to Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert to lead by example.