Victor Oladipo emerged as one of the best guards in the NBA in his first season with the Indiana Pacers last year, and apparently he still has room for growth going forward.
Coming off a year in which he averaged 23.1 points and led the league with 2.1 steals per game, there have been rumblings that Oladipo is poised for another huge jump. Players who spoke with NBA writer Keith Smith said as much.
Oladipo made his first All-Star team last year and was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player. The former No. 2 overall pick never really became the superstar the Orlando Magic wanted him to be, but his effort has never been questioned. Even after the remarkable season he had last year, Oladipo made it clear he is not satisfied with the awesome message he sent his trainer following Indiana’s elimination from the playoffs. Pacers fans should be excited about what the future holds.
We’re through two rounds of the NBA playoffs, and we’ve seen some outstanding performances across the league. Some of them come from the sources you would expect, while others have been more unlikely and surprising. Some didn’t even last that long, but were so impressive that they have earned the recognition.
Here are ten players who have stood out above the others during the NBA playoffs thus far.
Victor Oladipo wasted little time looking ahead to next season after his Indiana Pacers were eliminated from this year’s playoffs.
The Pacers came up short in their quest to advance in this year’s playoffs when they were defeated by the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-101 in Game 7 of their first-round series. Almost immediately after the game, Oladipo sent a message to his trainer about beginning some offseason training.
Oladipo continued that line of thinking, saying to the media after the game that he doesn’t know how to take a break or time off.
Oladipo flourished during his first season with the Pacers. He averaged 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and led the NBA with 2.1 steals per game. He also made his first All-Star team and is the favorite take home the league’s Most Improved Player of the Year Award. With his attitude of constantly wanting to get better, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Oladipo did improve even more next season.
Victor Oladipo was bummed out after his Indiana Pacers lost Game 5 of their playoff series to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night, not just because of the defeat, but also because of a controversial call that went against his team.
Oladipo drove to the basket with the game tied at 95 and attempted a layup in the final seconds. LeBron James rejected his shot with a chase-down block that preserved the tie and gave Cleveland the ball back. There were questions about whether or not James goaltended on the play, but it was not reviewed.
Oladipo said after the game that he thought the refs missed the goaltend.
“It sucks. That layup is huge. That 3 was big time but who’s to say they even run THAT play? They missed that one and it sucks,” Oladipo said, via Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor.
I thought the play was too close to overturn, but others felt Oladipo’s ball went off the backboard before James touched it.
Of course, we know how things ended — James drained a 3-pointer to win the game 98-95 and put his Cavs up 3-2 in the series. In the end, most people will just remember the result of the game rather than the potentially missed call.
The officials almost seemed like they were out to get the Indiana Pacers’ best player early in Game 2 on Wednesday.
Victor Oladipo was called for three fouls in the first half of his team’s playoff game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which led him to be limited to eight minutes. He was called for two early fouls, and then this was the third, which was called in the second quarter.
Kevin Love clearly jumped into Oladipo to get the foul call, while Oladipo was jumping towards Love’s side to avoid contact. Love still drew the foul call.
Oladipo was one of three Pacers players called for three fouls in the first half, while only one Cleveland player was called for three. The Pacers wouldn’t be the only team complaining about calls in the NBA playoffs, and they certainly would be justified.
Victor Oladipo is downplaying just how much of an impact Dan Gilbert’s comments about the infamous Thunder-Pacers trade had on him, but he does acknowledge it added fuel to his fire.
Oladipo was traded by the Thunder along with Domantas Sabonis over the summer for Paul George. Many thought the Pacers were ripped off in the deal and could have gotten much more for their star player. Among that group was Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who said the Pacers could have done better.
Now with the Pacers and Cavs meeting in the first round of the playoffs, Oladipo is being faced with those questions. He acknowledged after Indiana’s Game 1 win over the Cavs that the comment did fire him up.
“I already had fuel. You could say it added fuel to the fire. That was so long ago. I’m aware of what he said. You can’t control his opinion. All I’m focused on is myself,” Oladipo said.
Oladipo is off to a great start in the playoffs. He shot 11 of 19, including 6 of 9 on threes, to score a game-high 32 points in the Pacers’ 98-80 win in Cleveland. He’s already shut up critics through his play this year. He’s doing even more now.
Victor Oladipo has thrived in his first season with the Indiana Pacers, and the advice from coach Nate McMillan has helped.
On Sunday as the Pacers opened up the playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers, ABC’s broadcast team shared how McMillan has gotten the most out of Oladipo. According to Vic, McMillan has told him to be more of an a– hole.
This quote was shared by ABC via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
“(McMillan) told me, ‘You have to become a little more of an a–hole.’ At the beginning of the year, he always told me to be more of an a–hole. He said people shouldn’t like you. It was like, ‘What do you mean? I am.’ So when I see him, I make jokes. I told him, ‘I had a dream of kicking your a–.’ It’s little stuff like that just to get me motivated.”
Perhaps McMillan’s words have helped Oladipo gain and play with an edge. After three seasons in Orlando and one in Oklahoma City, Oladipo is playing to his full potential with the Pacers. He averaged 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, while making a career-best 47.7 percent of his field goals. Beyond changing his mentality, Oladipo also might be motivated by proving people wrong about the infamous Thunder trade.
This NBA season has been one for the books. Think of all the narratives: the drama-filled Cavs, the injury-riddled Celtics, the red-hot Rockets and Raptors, the crazy trade deadline, the inconsistent Warriors — the list goes on.
With the playoffs approaching (they start this Saturday), we still don’t know which teams will match up. Will Houston square off with Utah, New Orleans, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Minnesota, or Denver? Considering the unpredictability of this season, your guess is as good as mine.
Though we don’t yet know which teams will see each other, we do have an idea of which players will play a salient role in shaping the NBA playoffs. Here’s a look at 15 of those players.
15. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
The Greek Freak has looked a year away from total domination this season. Though many fans expected the Bucks would make the leap to become an Eastern Conference contender this year, the squad has disappointed. They underperformed with Jason Kidd, who was fired midway through the season, and they’ve underperformed with Joe Prunty. Giannis will need to be at his best — he’ll need to be ready now — for Milwaukee to steal a series. He missed Saturday’s game against New York with ankle soreness, the sixth game he’s missed this year.
14. Chris Paul, Houston Rockets
Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey both seemed supremely confident the Chris Paul/James Harden experiment would be a hit. This season has made them look like prophets. The Rockets, behind their voluminous three-point shooting, have been easily the best team in the league, cruising to a 64-16 record. Their postseason success will ultimately boil down to the success of their two stars. Paul has never made it to the NBA Finals — could this be the year he finally breaks through? He has his best supporting cast to date.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson gave his support to Victor Oladipo for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award and took a shot at Oladipo’s former team.
Oladipo was one of the players the Pacers received in the trade that sent Paul George to the Thunder. Since arriving in Indianapolis, Oladipo has played the best basketball of his professional career. He’s averaging career highs in points (24), rebounds (5.4), assists (4.3), and leads the league in steals (2.2).
Last month, Oladipo made his first All-Star Game appearance. If Robinson had his way, that wouldn’t be the only honor Oladipo receives this season. Robinson touted Oladipo to win the Most Improved Player Award. He also took a swipe at the Magic, saying they have a reputation of trading away good players.
Prior to this season’s trade deadline, Orlando sent point guard Elfrid Payton to the Suns. Last year, Serge Ibaka was dealt to the Raptors. Before that, the Magic traded Tobias Harris to the Pistons and Oladipo to the Thunder.
Robinson’s point about the Magic trading solid pieces is valid and one that is likely shared by many fans of the team.
Victor Oladipo went Hollywood while in Los Angeles for the Slam Dunk contest.
The Indiana Pacers guard performed a cool “Black Panther” dunk for his second dunk in the contest. Actor Chadwick Boseman, who plays the titular superhero in the Marvel movie “Black Panther”, was sitting courtside for the dunk contest at Staples Center on Saturday night. Oladipo came over to Boseman and was given a Black Panther mask to wear.
Oladipo put on the mask and attempted a dunk. He missed his first attempt but stuffed home the second, much to the delight of fans and Boseman.
We certainly love the creativity and product placement in Oladipo’s dunk.
The big hits were Dennis Smith Jr.’s dunk that scored a perfect 50, Larry Nance Jr.’s Vince Carter dunk, and Donovan Mitchell’s Dr. Dunkenstein tribute.