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.

Hoosiers In The NBA: How The Trade Deadline Affected Former Hoosiers

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA on its new site! 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 this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:

Tons of rumors pop up around the NBA trade deadline with most of them just being hypotheticals that teams make public for the sole purpose of gauging fan reaction. Even though most fans know this, there’s always the slight possibility that there may be truth in those rumors so fans continue to react anyway.

A couple of former Hoosiers found their names connected to multiple trade rumors last week, and while none of them switched teams they did get new teammates because their team ended up trading someone else. This week I’m going to go over how those trades will affect these former Hoosiers for the rest of the season as well as whether or not it was for the best that they didn’t get traded.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Atlanta (W 117-110): 9 points (3-12 FG)(2-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 8 assists, steal, block, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

Vs San Antonio (L 98-96): 14 points (6-14 FG), 3 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, 4 turnovers, personal foul, 40 minutes.

Vs Dallas (W 110-104): 17 points (6-18 FG)(2-2 FT), 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 42 minutes.

Vs Indiana (L 105-102): 17 points (6-17 FG)(5-8 FT), 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 41 minutes.

Trade Deadline Moves: Acquired Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova from the Detroit Pistons while giving up Tobias Harris; Acquired Jared Cunningham from the Cleveland Cavaliers and a 2nd round pick from the Portland Trail Blazers while giving up Channing Frye to the Cavaliers

The Orlando Magic desperately want a franchise player and were hoping to grab one at the trade deadline. To pull that off would mean the Magic would have to part with some of their young talent. Well they did end up trading Tobias Harris but in return Orlando received Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova.

While neither are the franchise player the Magic are looking for, they do play an important role in getting one. Jennings is an expiring contract who will create 8.5 million dollars in cap room for next summer’s free agent market, where multiple franchise players expect to test free agency. Ilyasova makes for a nice veteran role player and is basically a younger Channing Frye. His acquisition made more sense when the Magic later dealt Frye to Cleveland.

Jennings works really well with Victor Oladipo. Because Jennings is a much better shooter than Elfrid Payton, Oladipo isn’t forced to continuously shoot jump shots to create space in the offense. He can also play more of a facilitator role, as shown by his 11 assists in his first two games with Jennings.

Should He Have Been Traded?

Of all the former Hoosiers, it really felt like Oladipo was the most likely to get dealt while simultaneously being the one I least wanted to be traded. While it would have been cool to see him play for a contender (for example, the Los Angeles Clippers after a Blake Griffin trade), Oladipo just fits so well in Orlando both in how the team is structured and in the community. Of course, if a team is willing to part with a franchise player but wants Oladipo in return, I wouldn’t blame the Magic for making that deal. However, that should be the only situation the Magic consider dealing their closest thing to a superstar.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Vs Chicago (W 108-91): 5 points (2-3 FG)(0-2 FT), 8 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 6 personal fouls, 20 minutes.

@ Indiana (W 117-95): 11 points (4-7 FG)(3-3 FT), 11 rebounds, 3 assists, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

@ Milwaukee (W 98-95): 23 points (9-12 FG)(5-5 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 31 minutes.

@ Brooklyn (W 104-96): 10 points (4-8 FG)(2-2 FT), rebound, 3 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 22 minutes.

Trade Deadline Moves: Acquired Courtney Lee in a 3-team trade while giving up Brian Roberts to the Miami Heat and P.J. Hairston to the Memphis Grizzlies

There was no doubt that the Charlotte Hornets were going to make a move at the trade deadline and there were talks of that move being Dwight Howard. In any kind of Howard trade, Cody Zeller would more than likely be a part of it since it would be a waste to have both when you can only play one at a time.

Luckily for Zeller, talks with the Houston Rockets went nowhere and so the Hornets went a different direction and traded for Courtney Lee. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist injured again, it opens up a spot in the starting lineup and Lee offers good defense and good shooting. That means more spacing on the floor so big men like Zeller and Al Jefferson can have more room to work with in the post.

Should He Have Been Traded?

The Hornets seemed to have found an identity with Zeller at center, as Jefferson has been coming off the bench ever since his return from injury and may stay in that role because he’d have an easier time scoring against backups. For that reason, I’m glad Zeller wasn’t traded.

On the other hand, there is still a logjam in the front court and you still have the feeling that moving one of those big men would have been a better way to balance the roster instead of trading guards P.J. Hairston and Brian Roberts. I still feel that someone is leaving in the offseason but whether or not its Zeller or someone else remains to be seen.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ Memphis (W 112-106): DNP – injury

Vs Houston (W 116-103): DNP – injury/coach’s decision

Vs Golden State (W 137-105): 9 points (3-6 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 personal fouls, 22 minutes.

Vs Utah (W 115-111): 5 points (2-7 FG)(1-1), 8 rebounds, 3 turnovers, personal foul, 16 minutes.

Trade Deadline Moves: Acquired Anderson Varejao and a conditional 1st round pick in a 3-team trade while giving up a 2nd round pick to the Orlando Magic; acquired Brian Roberts from the Miami Heat in exchange for cash

In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the Portland Trail Blazers have exceeded all expectations as they currently sit at seventh place in the western conference a week after the all-star break. There were a couple of rumors that the Blazers might trade some of their young developing talent (such as Noah Vonleh) but Portland smartly decided to keep its young players. The Blazers remain focused on developing their talent and if they make the playoffs that’s great but if they don’t it won’t be a big deal.

That didn’t mean the Blazers were going to avoid taking part in a couple of midseason trades. Portland helped Cleveland and Orlando complete the Frye trade and all it cost was a second round pick. In return, the Blazers received a conditional first round pick from the Cavaliers. To be more specific, Portland now has Cleveland’s 2018 first round pick unless the Cavaliers are drafting in the top 10 for some reason. Portland also ended up with Anderson Varejao in that trade, but he was immediately waived so he won’t affect Vonleh’s playing time. The Blazers also added Brian Roberts (who the Heat traded away right after getting him) as a veteran backup for Damian Lillard and only gave up some cash.

Should He Have Been Traded?

As I previously wrote, I think it was a smart decision to keep Vonleh, as well as their other younger players. For Vonleh in particular, I don’t think there’s a better situation for him. How many other NBA teams are going to be as patient and helpful as the Blazers have been? Portland is committed to grooming Vonleh into key player for this franchise and I don’t see the team changing its mind anytime soon.

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Minnesota (W 116-102): DNP – injury

Vs Utah (W 100-96): DNP – injury

@ Oklahoma City (L 121-95): DNP – injury

Vs Philadelphia (W 121-114): DNP – injury

@ Detroit (W 111-106): DNP – injury

Trade Deadline Moves: Acquired Jarnell Stokes and cash from the Miami Heat while giving up a future 2nd round pick

With the New Orleans Pelicans quite a few games out of playoff contention, I figured they would either start selling off veterans to acquire younger players and draft picks or that they would try to swing for the fences by grabbing a big-name player in hopes of jumpstarting the team to make a late-season playoff push.

Turns out neither happened as they basically stuck with their team. Stokes, the one player they acquired, was released immediately so they could sign free agent guard Bryce Dejean-Jones because his 10-day contract had ended. Dejean-Jones played fairly well for the Pelicans and is meant to provide depth at the shooting guard position when Eric Gordon comes back.

Should He Have Been Traded?

I really respect Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps for sticking with this group of guys even after the slow start to the season. The truth is that the Pelicans should have traded Gordon only if they were giving up on trying to make the playoffs and were looking ahead to next season. Not only are the playoffs still a possibility (The Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz, and Sacramento Kings are in front of the Pelicans for the eighth spot but none of those three are sure things), but the Pelicans really need Gordon now after losing Tyreke Evans for the season. If Gordon plays well when he returns, he may also earn himself a new contract to stay in New Orleans.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 14.9ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.7apg, 0.95spg, 0.29bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 41.0% FG, 37.7% 3FG, 88.5% FT, 33.4mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 14.4ppg, 4.9rpg, 4.1apg, 1.38spg, 0.58bpg, 2.2tpg, 2.3fpg, 41.2% FG, 33.7% 3FG, 82.8% FT, 31.7mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 3.7ppg, 4.2rpg, 0.5apg, 0.44spg, 0.29bpg, 0.6tpg, 2.0fpg, 42.6% FG, 21.4% 3FG, 81.3% FT, 16.1mpg.

Cody Zeller: 9.1ppg, 6.1rpg, 0.9apg, 0.83spg, 0.68bpg, 1.0tpg, 3.0fpg, 50.3% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 74.5% FT, 24.9mpg.