Victor Oladipo needs to blend last year’s shooting with his old style of play

SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 15: Victor Oladipo
SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 15: Victor Oladipo /

The Indiana Pacers are counting on Victor Oladipo finding his old self and start showing the potential he displayed with the Orlando Magic.

Last season Victor Oladipo watched Russell Westbrook triple-double his way to the MVP. No seriously, that’s what happened to him. Oladipo and the rest of the Oklahoma City Thunder had one job to do, and that was to let Westbrook chase Oscar Robinson into the history books.

That was fine for the Thunder as they knew their limited ceiling after Kevin Durant left, but it left many of Westbrook’s teammates out of rhythm, especially Oladipo.

Some of the numbers have fluctuated in Oladipo’s career, making it hard to establish a baseline for his shooting, but it seems clear he wasn’t playing in a way that suits his style last season.

For starters, when he shared the floor with Westbrook he didn’t take as many shots inside 15 feet as he did when Westbrook was resting.

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This led to Oladipo taking a many more shots from range than he did at any other point in his 4-year career. The good news was that he shot a career high from beyond the arc at 36.1%. That put him at 61st among guards in 3-point percentage.

But 36.1% is just above that range where you start to wonder if they should be taking the shot to begin with, call it the Dwyane Wade Zone. That’s too many words to say his 3-point shooting is acceptable for his position, but toward the lower end of acceptability.

He didn’t drive as much with Westbrook on the floor but even without him, he was average at best finishing. With the Pacers, the shooting guard needs to make those drives worth his time and effort. Picking and choosing when he is aggressive is a good place to start.

Last season you could blame some of his regression on sharing the floor with Westbrook, but this season he won’t acquiesce to anyone.

Last season you could blame some of his regression on sharing the floor with Westbrook, but this season he won’t acquiesce to anyone. Myles Turner is the captain now,  but as a center, the offense won’t run through him. It will up to Oladipo to make Indiana’s offense work.

The Pacers need Oladipo to return to driving and kicking the ball out to teammates as a distributor. In his three seasons in Orlando, he posted a 20% assist percentage, but that plummeted to 12.5% last season with the Thunder. When Victor was standing around as a spot-up shooter he wasn’t being himself, and Oklahoma City wasn’t getting the most out of him.

His shooting improved by taking less mid-range shots thanks to driving less, but as mentioned before, it came at the cost of almost every other part of his game.

Ideally, Indiana needs Oladipo to meld the spot-up shooting he worked on last season with his older game that saw him both score and distributes thanks to attacking the defense. There isn’t a need to be passive on offense which should lead to a better effort defensively if he is playing his style of basketball.

Next: Love/Hate Series: Darren Collison

Oladipo is ‘home’ again in Indiana where he assimilated into Hoosierdom. Hopefully, the comfort that comes with familiarity allows him to find the potential that he displayed in his first few seasons.