Victor Oladipo has gone on a tear to start the season, and his Indiana Pacers are humming. They have won seven of their last 10, and now sit at fifth in the Eastern conference in good position to make the playoffs.
He earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week for December 4-10, his second time winning the award this season. In just that week, the Pacers stopped the Cavs’ 13-game winning streak and came back from 17 and 19 point deficits against the Bulls and Nuggets, respectively.
Oladipo is now averaging a blistering 24.5 points per game, up from just 15.9 with the Thunder last year in about as many minutes. He looks like an early frontrunner for Most Improved Player of the year. Indiana looks like a good fit for him, and he has been freed from Russell Westbrook, whose ball-dominant playstyle limited Oladipo’s touches in Oklahoma City.
Oladipo was selected second overall in the 2013 NBA Draft and has stood out as one of the best players to come out of a weak draft class. Anthony Bennett was selected first overall and has since fallen out of the league entirely with how miserable his effort was. Still, Oladipo was selected above league stars Giannis Antetokounmpo, CJ McCollum and Rudy Gobert. For being the second overall pick, his career has been quite underwhelming until this year.
He was traded to Indiana, where he played college ball for IU, along with Domantas Sabonis for marquee trading chip Paul George this offseason. Oladipo’s success, and the Thunder’s concurrent failure have many questioning the trade that sent him to Indiana. It was widely believed that Indiana was swindled in that trade, which sent the four-time All-Star George to join MVP Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City.
However, the tables have turned, and the trade is looking pretty good for Indiana right now. 25 games into the season, Oklahoma City still hasn’t found traction with their new triad of stars. One has to wonder if Westbrook is the problem, especially when their offensive sets look like this.
Meanwhile, Oladipo is playing the best basketball of his career on a team that is blowing their expectations out of the water. He has put up monstrous numbers on torrential shooting percentages, 48.5 percent overall and 44.4 percent on threes. Indiana willingly handed over the reins of the franchise to a fearless alpha-dog in Oladipo, who has almost single-handedly revitalized their team.
If anyone had predicted that Oladipo would break out as a new Pacer, you would think it would be due to the “good numbers on a bad team” phenomenon that can inflate players’ statistics when they have nothing to play for. But the Pacers are by no means a bad team, in fact, they look pretty fearsome. Sabonis turned out to be a serviceable role player, and vets Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young provide a scoring punch to supplement Oladipo. Myles Turner is also getting back into a groove after returning from an injury that kept him out for eight games.
Oladipo has turned into a premier closer with his killer instincts down the stretch. He never shies from the spotlight, and has knocked down clutch shots against some of the league’s best teams again,