Could Victor Oladipo be the most improved player — again?

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 09: Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers walks out of NBA Off-season training with Remy Workouts on August 9, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 09: Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers walks out of NBA Off-season training with Remy Workouts on August 9, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Several Indiana Pacers and NBA players are saying that Victor Oladipo is going to make another jump this season. That should scare the rest of the league.

Victor Oladipo stepped up his game in a big way last season and in the process, took the Indiana Pacers with him.

His evolution as a player took himself and his team to a level no one expected as Oladipo locked himself into winning the Most Improved Player award by the All-Star break, something few expected when he was traded for the Pacers.

Most players can’t elevate their game the way he did, but he might do it again, or perhaps even win an MVP.

According to Pacers sideline reporter Pat Boylan, several Pacers said he is the most improved this offseason, and Real GM contributor Keith Smith tweeted that other players in the NBA are saying the same thing. While the question is a standard training camp question, it is a little surprising to hear that a top 25 player in the NBA is taking another leap.

Somehow, someway, Victor Oladipo got meaner and leaner this offseason. To hear his peers comment that he is on track for a huge season again is remarkable and carries a certain weight that doesn’t come when reporters or bloggers say the same thing.

That should scare whoever is going against the Pacers.

Oladipo was already an All-Star and Indiana’s primary scoring option, but as we discussed before in what an MVP season would look like, there were small things he could do to improve his game. If he really is this Mini-LeBron some have suggested, this means it wasn’t just his trainer praising his client. No, this could be something entirely different.

Even so, the Pacers need to help Victor Oladipo out

Let’s say it’s true, let’s say Victor Oladipo is making a leap towards being a true MVP contender. that’s great.

But he can only do so much by himself.

The Pacers won over 61 percent of their games when Oladipo was the only primary scorer or one of them, but if Indiana can get other players contributing more often as more than just sidekicks, then last year’s 58.5 win percentage can be surpassed.  According to these calculations from Saurabh Rane, when Bojan Bogdanovic stepped up as another primary option, Indiana won 75 percent of their games when Bojan carried a workload similar to Oladipo, but that only happened 16 times.

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It’s not anything advanced, but when Indiana doesn’t need to rely on Oladipo for their offense, they have a better chance to win.

This is why it’s so important for Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis to have a breakout season. If the young centers become a dependable second option for the Pacers, then Oladipo doesn’t need to be the workhorse he was last season.

Guys like Bojan, Thaddeus Young, and Darren Collison will step up their games from time to time and gut out wins for Indiana, but it is critical that someone else becomes that reliable second option for the Pacers night in and night out.

The Pacers are still one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference regardless of Oladipo or any other player’s development over the summer, but both are critical for Indiana as they look at themselves as more than just another playoff team in the Eastern Conference.

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Oladipo may be destined for another big season, but if the Pacers want to make a deep run in the playoffs, the rest of the team needs to elevate themselves as well.