It was a revelatory 2017-18 for Victor Oladipo. Back home again in Indiana, Oladipo produced a career year. Let’s take a further look at Vic’s first season for the Pacers.
Victor Oladipo had himself a year, didn’t he? I mean holy crap. Let’s plot out Oladipo’s year right quick: he began the summer as a more-or-less irrelevant wing player for Oklahoma City, got traded for the second time in thirteen months, spent four months being snickered at for being one of the two of the dimes swapped for Paul George’s dollar, started the season as a pleasent surprise, became a revelation, produced the best basketball of his life, led a team that came oh-so-close to upsetting LeBron James in the first round, all the while reigniting the love between Indiana and her Pacers. That’s some year.
Rereading that, it seems farfetched. What Victor did this season just doesn’t happen in real life. Or, it’s not supposed to. Those cliche transformations are reserved for cheesy movies. But here we are, reading the year-end summary of a player who entered last summer a league-average player and enters this coming one an all-star.
Take a look at his basketball-reference page if you’d like, but that’s doesn’t tell the full story of Oladipo’s season. Those are just the numbers. Impressive numbers, but numbers nevertheless. To see the whole picture check out his essay on the Players’ Tribune. His embracing of Indiana – and being embraced back – is the story. No Pacers’ star has been as beloved as quickly as Vic. Surely Oladipo’s immediate positive impact help,d; but his apparently genuine joy for playing in Indiana was both refreshing and the frosting on the cake.
That story was populated with a legion of highs. There were the dagger threes, Stretch Armstrong layups, and ferocious dunks. There were the rallies. The cheers. The sold-out seats. The wins, 48 of them, 17 more than Las Vegas predicted preseason. There were the points: only once under double-figures, 11 times in the thirties. The 47 against Denver. There were the steals, so many steals, 177 of them, most in the league. Don’t forget the triple-double in game six.
The season wasn’t perfect though. He struggled with live ball turnovers. In March he had a ten-game stretch where he shot 39 percent (17.7 ppg) and the team looked uneven. His 3-point shooting had peaks and valleys. It started out blazing before dropping to 23.4% in February, before rallying at the end. He had a tough time with Cleveland’s double teams. The Pacers went 1-2 in playoff games where he was less than stellar. And he couldn’t snag a day of rest, otherwise, the team would lose (0-7 without him).
However, there was far, far more good than bad in a season that will shimmer delightfully in memories for years to come