On January 18, 2017, the Oklahoma City Thunder walked off the basketball court on the wrong end of a 121-100 beatdown by the Golden State Warriors. Russell Westbrook ended the game with a triple-double, but that didn’t change the fact that Oklahoma City had just gotten blown off the court.
Both Westbrook’s harsh words with former teammate Kevin Durant and the fact that he managed to achieve a triple-double once again dominated headlines for that night in the NBA.
Victor Oladipo had a great game, ending with 20 points, four steals, and three rebounds against the Warriors. This is quite the box score for a player who at the time was averaging 16 points per game. What no one knows or would have predicted, is that in the 2017-2018 season, a game like this would be seen as just another game for Oladipo.
This season Oladipo is stuffing the box score night after night. Through 39 games with the Indiana Pacers, Oladipo is averaging 24 points, five rebounds and four assists per game. In a season where Oladipo was expected to take a backseat and let Myles Turner lead the Indiana Pacers, He has completely and unexpectedly taken the NBA by storm with his nightly scoring barrages and his relentless efforts on the basketball court.
Former Indiana Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean helped Oladipo grow in a major way throughout his three years playing for the Hoosiers. Crean got to watch as Oladipo transformed from a three-star high school recruit to the player who won college player of the year in his junior year at Indiana.
“He has always responded to doubt,” stated Crean. “He has always responded to, ‘Am I good enough?’ I don’t want to call it fear, but there’s a healthy fear of failure, and I think he’s always had that. Dwyane Wade’s always had that. It’s not a bad thing. It’s only a bad thing if you don’t have the confidence. Victor learned to let the doubts that others had, drive him beyond.”
If Crean’s right about one thing, it is how amazing Oladipo’s response to extreme doubt has been. In this last NBA offseason, the Thunder traded Oladipo and Damontas Sabonis in return for Paul George, who at the time was considered the centerpiece of the Indiana Pacers. ESPN went as far as to give the Pacers an offseason grade of F, which was the lowest for any team.
Oladipo has taken the NBA by storm this season and has established himself enough to be ranked third among Eastern Conference guards in All-Star voting at this point. If this is what Indiana’s future is going to look like, the rest of the NBA needs to watch out because at 25 years old, Oladipo seems poised to carry on this success in the NBA for the foreseeable future.
Indiana fans can rest easy at this point because it only goes up from here, and the Pacers do not look like they will be planning on slowing down anytime soon.