Kevin Pritchard and the Indiana Pacers came into the offseason with the plan of building a championship contender around Paul George in an effort to keep their franchise player. Unfortunately, George had other ideas and informed the Pacers of his plans to leave the franchise following the upcoming 2017-18 season. Even worse for the Pacers, George and his agent decided to make his decision to leave Indiana public.
Rumors flew immediately when it became public knowledge that the Pacers were looking to trade George. Everyone expected George to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics, but that did not end up being the case. Oklahoma City came out of nowhere to snag George and sent former Indiana Hoosiers star Victor Oladipo and second-year big man Domantas Sabonis back to Indiana.
Immediately following the trade, the national media began crucifying Pritchard and the Pacers’ front office. George is a borderline superstar, and the media did not think that Oladipo and Sabonis were enough.
All of that being said, Oladipo is ready to break out with a huge season and made it clear that he is happy to be back home again in Indiana.
Last season with the Thunder, Oladipo took a big step in his progression. He ended the season averaging 15.9 points per game to go along with 4.3 rebound and 2.6 assists. Oladipo shot 44.2 percent from the field overall and knocked down 36.1 percent of his three-point attempts.
At just 25-years-old, Oladipo has not seen close to his full potential. That is what attracted Pritchard to him in trade talks involving George. Oladipo has also not been given the opportunity to be the No. 1 guard player on a team throughout his young career.
Heading into the 2017-18 season, Oladipo has already been named the Pacers’ starting shooting guard by head coach Nate McMillan. He will also be the lead guard for the Pacers alongside either Darren Collison or Cory Joseph, who will both be new to the Indiana roster as well.
Replacing George this season was not possible for the Pacers. Acquiring a star who could impact the game like George was not going to happen. Oladipo may not be to that point yet, but there is no doubt that he could become that type of player in the future.
Very few NBA players can combine the game that Oladipo has to go along with the speed, quickness, and athleticism that the former IU standout has. The Pacers have not had the type of athletic ability that Oladipo possesses in a long time either.
Predicting what fans can expect from Oladipo this season is nearly impossible. His role has not been worked out yet, and Myles Turner is expected to receive a major role boost as well. While a prediction may not be possible, there are many reasons to believe that Oladipo will have a huge season for the Pacers.
Oladipo has a roster that will fit well with his ability to get up and down the court. Collison, Oladipo, Glenn Robinson III, Lance Stephenson, Joseph, Turner, Thaddeus Young, and more are all capable of getting out and running. That will open up easy looks in transition for Oladipo, who normally is one of the most athletic players, if not the most athletic player on the court every night.
Shot attempts will not be a problem for Oladipo either. He may not have gotten as many touches as he deserved last season while playing alongside Russell Westbrook, but he will be asked to shoulder a large portion of the scoring load. That alone will boost his offensive numbers in a big way.
Needless to say, Pacers fans should be excited about their new shooting guard. While the next few years could be rough, there are reasons to believe that the team will still compete in the Eastern Conference for a playoff spot.
Expect to see Oladipo step up in a big way this season. He may never become a superstar, but the Pacers certainly see superstar potential in their new starting shooting guard.
Do you think Victor Oladipo will have a breakout season this year for the Pacers? What are your expectations for him over the next few years? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Featured Image by Darron Cummings/AP Images]