Hoosiers In The NBA: Oladipo Will Look To Turn His Luck Around With The Pacers

Victor Oladipo has had a very unlucky start to his career.

It started right from draft night in 2013, when the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick. In a parallel universe somewhere, Oladipo would have played with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James in the last three NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. However, more than likely he would have just replaced Bennett in the trade package the Cavaliers sent the Timberwolves in 2014 for Kevin Love.

The Orlando Magic happily picked Oladipo up with the second pick as the best player available. It wasn’t a position of need considering the Magic already had a pretty good shooting guard in Arron Afflalo, who along with Nikola Vucevic were the key pieces the Magic received from the Dwight Howard trade just a year prior. So to compensate, the Magic tried to have them share the backcourt with Oladipo as the point guard, which returned mixed results at best.

As a result, the Magic traded Afflalo to the Nuggets and drafted a point guard to play alongside Oladipo in Elfrid Payton. While this did end up being Oladipo’s most prolific scoring season (17.9ppg), the Magic remained a cellar dweller in the east and management finally gave up on head coach Jacque Vaughn and switched to James Borrego during the final third of the season.

Despite the team slightly improving, the Magic became anxious to start winning now and signed veteran coach Scott Skiles to become Oladipo’s third coach in three years. While Skiles did help unlock some of Oladipo’s defensive potential which had surprisingly been missing the first two seasons, Skiles’ abrasive personality didn’t mix with the team and after recommending several roster moves that caused the team to go backwards, he too was gone.

Oladipo’s fourth coach was to be Frank Vogel, someone who would get the best defensively out of Oladipo and would be a welcome change as a “player’s coach”. Yet fate intervened yet again as the Magic traded Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder in another win-now trade for the services of Serge Ibaka.

While unfortunately Oladipo would no longer be part of Orlando’s building process, this looked like it would work out great. The Thunder were trying to keep Kevin Durant from leaving so they traded for the guy Durant once praised by calling him a young Dwyane Wade. Under his newest coach Billy Donavan, Oladipo would fill in the gap left behind from the disastrous James Harden trade and would form a new big three in OKC with Durant and Russell Westbrook.

That never had a chance to happen as Durant instead signed with the Warriors and motivated Westbrook to become only the second player ever to average a triple-double during an entire season. Westbrook’s MVP season did let Oladipo get his first taste of the playoffs but just like in the regular season, Westbrook’s monopoly of the ball relegated Oladipo to being nothing more than a three-point shooter or an occasional alley-oop parter.

Now in an attempt to keep Westbrook from leaving Oklahoma City, the Thunder have traded for a Durant replacement in Paul George and with limited trade assets were forced to move Oladipo to the Indiana Pacers. There he will play for his fifth coach in five seasons in Nate McMillan (sixth if you count Vogel even though he never played for him) and play for a team that is looking towards the future with star big man Myles Turner leading the way.

Oladipo does deserve some blame for his inconsistent career up to this point (the turnover problems and surprisingly average defense during his first few seasons as well as his still streaky outside shooting), but after looking at all the circumstances he had to go through it’s actually a little bit surprising that Oladipo has been as successful as he’s been to this point in his career with averages of 15.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Here’s to hoping Oladipo finally finds his place in the NBA now that he’s back in the state of Indiana.

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Hoosiers In The NBA: Explaining Why Oladipo Was Traded To Oklahoma City

Welcome to offseason coverage of Hoosiers In The NBA! Today I am looking at an NBA Draft trade that has one former Hoosier going from a rebuilding team to one on the cusp of championship greatness. Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:


On a night where neither Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell nor Troy Williams were drafted into the NBA, fans of professional Hoosiers received an even bigger surprise when the Orlando Magic traded Victor Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder in arguably the biggest move of NBA offseason so far. In this article I will go over the details of the trade and why both teams agreed to the deal, what Oladipo’s role will be on the Thunder, and how it may determine one of the biggest plotlines of the NBA offseason.


The complete trade saw the Magic acquire power forward Serge Ibaka in return for the 11th overall pick (which became Domantas Sabonis), Ersan Ilyasova, and most importantly former Indiana Hoosier Victor Oladipo. I’ve seen some people on the internet question why this trade happened so let’s take a look at why both sides agreed to this swap:

Why Orlando Did It: The Magic have been looking to acquire a franchise player for years and management felt that Ibaka was its best bet. While that may seem ridiculous for some, Ibaka was an All-Star for the Thunder as a third-option so there is potential that he could flourish as the number one guy just like James Harden did when he went to Houston. Obviously the chances of that happening are slim but to the Magic it was worth the gamble, especially for a player who fits so perfectly with the current roster. (Even though both Ibaka and Aaron Gordon play power forward, I can see Ibaka moving to center in crunch time since Nikola Vucevic is a below-average defender)

Why Oklahoma City Did It: The Thunder need cap space moving forward, and it seemed that Ibaka wasn’t a good fit nor was very happy in Coach Billy Donovan’s system, finishing what amounted to a very disappointing season. All three players the Thunder received make a lot of sense as Sabonis offers depth behind Steve Adams and Enes Kanter, Ilyasova provides a cheaper alternative to the stretch-four or an easy buyout to help with the salary cap, and Oladipo offers a great defender for the starting lineup that can shoot better than Andre Roberson and makes retaining Dion Waiters less of a priority.

I’d also like to disprove the notion that the Magic “gave up” on Oladipo. You can bet that if Orlando GM Rob Hennigan had the option, he would love to have a starting five anchored by the defense of Ibaka and Oladipo. The fact is that Oladipo was Orlando’s most valuable trade chip and any potential trade for an all-star player would likely include the other team asking for Oladipo in return. The Magic also have plenty of depth at the position to swallow the loss of the former second overall pick as Mario Hezonja should improve and Evan Fournier will likely stay.


While the backcourt of Oladipo and Russell Westbrook sounds very exciting and over-the-top athletic, there will be some growing pains, especially for Oladipo. Used to being the guy in Orlando, Oladipo will quickly need to transition from being the main ball-handler to playing more off the ball. Gone will be the isolation plays and instead Oladipo will have to catch-and-shoot more.

Of course, there’s always the chance that the Thunder implement a rotation where Oladipo is allowed to take control of the offense for stretches of the game just like  Harden did back in 2012. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Oladipo is used in the sixth man role, especially if Waiters isn’t re-signed. One thing we do know is that, at least for this upcoming year, Oladipo will be asked to be more of a three-and-D player than an offensive playmaker like he was in Orlando.


Of course the biggest question this trade brings up is how it will affect Kevin Durant?

While initially it looked like the Thunder were making this deal to help soften the potential blow of Durant moving on from Oklahoma City, this was clearly a move made to entice Durant to return.

Moving Ibaka signaled three things to Durant:

  1. There will be more cap space not only this offseason but also in the future
  2. Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti is not afraid to shake up the roster so as to stay young but also competitive
  3. The team is taking notice of who Durant would like to play with and have brought in a guy in Oladipo that Durant really likes.

It’s no coincidence that the Thunder traded for Oladipo. Durant has always been really high on him, even once stating that the former Hoosier reminded him of a young Dwyane Wade. If Durant really believes that statement, I don’t see how he doesn’t come to the conclusion that Oklahoma City gives him the best chance to win and returns next season.