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Pacers’ Victor Oladipo’s ‘next step’ is to become ‘the best in the NBA’

When the Indiana Pacers traded Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, many initially thought the deal was a heist for the Oklahoma City Thunder. That was before Oladipo took a massive leap and won the Most Improved Player award while leading the Pacers to a surprising 48 wins.

Oladipo effectively put himself on George’s level in the matter of one season, and now the Pacers star has his sights set even higher. Oladipo’s manager, Jay Henderson, outlined the next step for the guard in an interview with J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star.

“The next step is becoming the best player in the NBA,” Henderson says. “None of this other stuff matters if he doesn’t handle himself on the court.”

While that may be a lofty goal and one that isn’t realistic, it would be dangerous to bet against Oladipo making another jump. The Pacers guard has been working tirelessly in an effort to improve, so becoming a bona fide top-10 player isn’t out of the question.

Last season, Oladipo jumped from 15.9 to 23.1 points per game on excellent efficiency. He also averaged a career high in rebounds, assists and steals. The 26-year-old then nearly led the Pacers to a first-round series win over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. He notched 22.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.4 steals per game in the seven-game set.

Oladipo did have a few rough games mixed in that series, and part of getting even better will involve figuring out how to overcome that adversity and succeed while the outside shot isn’t falling. He’s working on diversifying his game even further, so that improvement could be on its way in 2018-19.