There’s still no concrete timeline for Victor Oladipo’s return to the floor in 2019-20. As coach Nate McMillan sees it, though, the Indiana Pacers franchise player is well on his way toward a full recovery.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, McMillan made it clear that Oladipo has made major strides both physically and mentally since suffering a season-ending injury in January.
“He’s doing great,” McMillan said of Oladipo. “He’s not playing live, but he’s moving and he’s in a good position mentally. I like what I see with him.”
The 27-year-old ruptured his quad on January 23, an injury that not only caused him to miss the remainder of 2018-19, but also puts his status in doubt with training camp quickly approaching. In late August, Pacers president Kevin Pritchard confirmed that he expected Oladipo to miss the beginning of this season.
Oladipo won Most Improved Player of the Year during his debut campaign with Indiana in 2017-18 after being acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Paul George trade. The former No. 2 overall pick immediately established himself as a much different player with the Pacers, averaging 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and a league-leading 2.4 steals per game while also making major strides as an off-dribble shooter and interior finisher.
The Pacers were swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics, and reacted by rejiggering a roster that was sorely lacking shot creation and playmaking from the backcourt. Offseason additions Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb, obviously, will go a long way toward mitigating that deficiency. But Indiana won’t reach its ceiling until Oladipo makes his long-awaited return, hopefully sooner rather than later.