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Victor Oladipo, Pacers

Pacers should be encouraged with what they saw from Victor Oladipo

The Indiana Pacers may not be playing basketball right now due to the NBA suspending the season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to talk about. Let’s take a look at Victor Oladipo and the short stint that we got to witness from him following his return from a ruptured quad.

Fans and media members alike had no idea when Oladipo would make his return to the Pacers. Some thought it would be December, but it ended up being January 29 against the Chicago Bulls when Indiana’s franchise face graced the team with his presence. There have been very few more anticipated moments in recent Indiana sports history.

Oladipo came back and scored just nine points in his first game back with the Pacers. He shot 2-for-8 from the floor and made only one of his seven three-point attempts. However, that one three-point shot that went through the net was a deep three that forced overtime. Indiana went on to win the game thanks to Oladipo’s heroics.

Unfortunately, a fairytale return to stardom was not in the cards for Oladipo. He continued to struggle to score on a consistent basis and it was clear that his body was not used to the pace of play. The Pacers faced a lot of adversity in the 13 games that Oladipo played since his return.

At one point, the Pacers had lost six straight games before they finally beat the Milwaukee Bucks heading into the All-Star break. So, why should Indiana be encouraged with what they saw from Oladipo? Let’s take a closer look.

Why Oladipo’s Return Showed Major Promise

The last game the Pacers played before the league’s suspension is the main reason to feel optimistic about Oladipo. Oladipo and the Pacers ended up losing to the Boston Celtics, but the star shooting guard scored 27 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists. He shot 9-for-16 from the field and 5-for-7 from the three-point line.

There is much more to find positive about the short stint that Oladipo played.

Even when he was struggling with his shot, Oladipo played aggressive defense. He showed the confidence to drive to the rim aggressively. Granted, he struggled finishing at the rim, but that was to be expected.

Coming off of a serious injury like a ruptured quad, there was a chance that Oladipo could have hesitancy upon returning. Instead, he showed the drive to return to his old game. That bodes well for him moving forward.

As a playmaker, Oladipo showed improvement. He consistently worked with Domantas Sabonis in the pick-and-roll game and showed much more willingness to move the ball and create open looks for his teammates than he had in the previous two years. If he continues that and becomes a more consistent scorer, Oladipo will be an even bigger threat for opponents to defend against.

Indiana desperately missed Oladipo’s defense when he was gone. He plays the passing lanes beautifully and has the quickness and athleticism to defend the opposing team’s best guard. There was definitely rust, but there were enough signs to tell that Oladipo will return to his former ball-hawking self.

From a chemistry standpoint, there were positive signs as well. Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon are going to be the future one-two punch for the Pacers in the back-court. Oladipo seemed much more willing to play off of the ball and there weren’t many major issues between the two.

After a short adjustment period for both Oladipo and his teammates, the offense started settling down. Nate McMillan and company were finally showing signs of being a serious Eastern Conference contender when the season was suspended.

We have no clue whether the NBA season will continue or whether it will end up being canceled. But, one thing is clear: Oladipo is back and has a chip on his shoulder. He wants to get back to being the dominant star that he was before the quad injury.

The Pacers should be excited to get him back on the floor whenever basketball resumes play. Even the suspension of the season will help Oladipo continue to work hard to get back to 100 percent. He will hit the ground running whenever the NBA returns.