Victor Oladipo is having his best season as a professional in this his 4th year in the league. The former 2014 #2 draft pick spent his first two years in Orlando and last year in Oklahoma City. Then this past summer he was sent to Indiana, where he starred in college, in exchange for Paul George. There were other names in the trade but Oladipo and George were the principals in the deal. Naturally everyone believed Oklahoma City and GM Sam Presti “won” the deal as PG-13 is one of the twenty or so best players in the league. But, OKC is struggling and Oladipo has led the Pacers to a 16-11 record. A squad most picked to finish near the bottom of the conference. Oladipo has upped his scoring average and over his last 5 games (team is 4-1 including a win over Cleveland) he is averaging 31/7/5 while shooting 53/45 with a 59.7 ts%. After Sunday’s win over the Denver Nuggets Oladipo was asked about what he was doing in comparison to Paul George and voiced his displeasure, courtesy of The Indianapolis Star’s Clifton Brown.
This from #Victor Oladipo, on the trade that brought him to #Pacers – “I’m kind of getting sick and tired of the comparisons with Paul George and myself. He’s moved on. I moved on. I’m happy here, he’s happy there. I wish him all the best. I’m feathery, right here as a Pacer.”
— Clifton Brown (@CliftonGBrown) December 11, 2017
The easy thing to do is compare Oladipo and George, it’s binary and easy for the human brain to compare and contrast. But we should be looking beyond a straight comparison. Let’s look at the variable in the equation that impacted Oladipo while he was in OKC and that impacts PG-13 now. Russell Westbrook.
The reigning MVP is undoubtedly a “tour de force” the NBA has never seen. But how does he impact his fellow teammates? How did Oladipo jump from a guy standing in the corner hoping for a pass from Westbrook to the undisputed alpha on a team that looks like it could make the playoffs? Yes, obviously being the featured offensive player gives him more opportunities. But that can’t be all. His shooting percentages with a player of his usage rate (30.9) are really good. It stands to reason that he would’ve had similar shooting percentages while playing next to the league MVP, right? But he didn’t. His numbers were down across the board. If you take a look at PG-13’s numbers this season in OKC, they are down as well. Granted he is meshing with two other superstars, but still, hints at something.
It’s still early and playoff spots aren’t guaranteed before Christmas but as Oladipo says he is happy playing in Indiana and is feeling feathery. Let’s check in on all parties at the end of the season to see where things have shaken out.