• Nick Dormus

Looking At Victor Oladipo: His Future Is In Indiana

Victor Oladipo was playing the best basketball of his career from 2017-2019. It was so great that the Pacers looked to him as the face of the franchise for years to come. Then January 22, 2019 happened. Oladipo suffered a catastrophic knee injury that would force him to miss the remainder of the season. 


At the height of his career, on the verge of superstardom, Oladipo's career took a turn for the worse. It’s almost similar to Derrick Rose tearing his ACL or Paul George snapping his leg. Playing at an all-star level, that is the last thing that any player wants to happen. The Pacers would go on to miss him deeply when the 2019 playoffs arrived. The team got swept out of the first round by the Boston Celtics and had no chance to take command during the series. Although things weren’t looking bright at the moment, both Oladipo and the Pacers franchise remained optimistic that the future would be better than the present. 


Since the injury over a year ago, Oladipo was able to have a great rehab. He and his training staff set a goal for him to return to the court at 100 percent or, possibly, even better. While the Pacers began the 2019-2020 season on a good note, Oladipo was anticipating the team to elevate to another level once he returned to the floor. 


January 29, 2020 was Oladipo's official return to the Indiana Pacers. You could tell that he was a bit jittery as he checked in for the first time. It seemed as if he was doing too much to try and get into his flow. But eventually he was able to become a factor on both ends of the floor. Oladipo did a fantastic job of running the pick and roll to his teammates and finding them an open lane to the basket. And when the game got close, he hit the big time three pointer to tie the game at 100. 


Looking rusty in his first game back was to be expected for Oladipo. But through the rest of the year, it seemed as if he never got into a good rhythm with the team. The pandemic didn’t help that situation either. Oladipo shot 39 percent from the field and never got into the flow that he had prior to the injury. With Oladipo’s unassertiveness along with injuries to key players, the Pacers would get swept in the first round by the Miami Heat and exit the NBA bubble. 


The future with the Pacers may be in jeopardy for Oladipo. Rumors continue to float around that he is unhappy. While he was out of the lineup, key contributors in Domontas Sabonis, TJ Warren and others began to emerge as perennial all stars in the making. It may look as if Oladipo isn’t viewed as the franchise’s cornerstone anymore. 


It may have been a very bizarre season for Oladipo. But there’s no question that Indiana is the right home for his career. He’s achieved so much as an all-star for the Pacers, there’s no question that the front office would want to keep him. Oladipo has the opportunity this offseason to continue to get stronger both physically and mentally. The Eastern Conference is up for grabs for Indiana to claim next season. The more Oladipo improves and recovers this upcoming season, the more dangerous the Pacers will become next season. 


There will be a coaching change that could possibly shake up the entire chemistry for the Indiana Pacers. Let’s hope that it shakes it in a positive way. The team has a lot of grit and toughness to them which makes them unique. It’s reminiscent of the Memphis Grizzlies in the early 2010’s. Oladipo can be the driving force next season that takes this team to an elite level. If he plays anywhere close to how he was before the injury, the Pacers may shock the world next season. 


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