On Monday night, Indiana Pacers shooting guard Victor Oladipo made a major statement to the NBA community.
Recording 29 points, nine rebounds, five assists, seven steals and two blocks in a 105-97 victory over the Orlando Magic, Oladipo became the fifth player in NBA history (since steals and blocks started to be tracked in 1973-1974) to record that stat line, per the Elias Sports Bureau.
Playing on his third team in three seasons, Oladipo is enjoying a breakout year, leading the Pacers in scoring at 22.2 points per contest to go along with 5.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 33.2 minutes. Shooting 45.8 percent from the field, he has knocked down 44.7 percent of his three-point shots, both of which are currently career-highs.
He has also converted 80.6 percent of his free throws and has taken 5.4 per game, the highest mark of his career in that regard which indicates his newfound aggressiveness on the offensive end.
Last season, Oladipo was completely overlooked playing alongside Russell Westbrook on the Oklahoma City Thunder. He posted 15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 33.2 minutes over 67 games played before being shipped off to Indiana with Domantas Sabonis in exchange for Paul George this past summer.
Prior to that, the Magic traded him, the draft rights to Sabonis and veteran Ersan Ilyasova to the Thunder in exchange for Serge Ibaka. In other words, he wasn’t the centerpiece of either deal.
But, he has now proven to be a completely new player who is thriving in a new setting and under a new coach.
"He absorbs everything that you tell him," Pacers coach Nate McMillan told Chris Barnewall of CBS Sports. "I've had more film sessions with him than I've had really with any player. It's 'cause he wants to get better. ... He's a guy that watches a lot of film. He wants to learn. He wants to improve. We've been able to see some growth in his game from some of those film sessions.”
Oladipo is happy with the progress that he’s made.
“I think I’ve improved a little bit everywhere,” Oladipo explained. “My mindset especially I think has improved a lot. Getting comfortable with my teammates. Getting comfortable with the system we’re running here. Just taking it one day at a time.”
Former Pacers coach Frank Vogel, who watched Oladipo light his Magic up on Monday, also shared some kind words.
"He's playing at an All-Star level," Vogel said. "The best basketball of his career. He's always been a great basket attacker, slasher, and defender. The way he's shooting the ball from the 3-point line is what separates where he's been prior to this year. Not just shooting open corner 3s, but shooting them off the bounce, off pin-downs, a lot of different ways and it puts a lot more pressure on the defense to close out.”
A pair of former teammates also made it a point to compliment Oladipo after his huge performance on Monday, which speaks volumes about who he is as a person.
"[He's] playing really aggressive and I'm happy for him," Magic center Nikola Vucevic admitted. "It's not easy [being] traded for the second time in a year. But I think Indiana is a great team for him. They're a young team. He gets to do a lot of things offensively and I know he went to school there so I know he likes it there a lot.”
Forward Aaron Gordon added, "He looks like he's home. He looks like he's found a home that he can stay for a long time. He looks very comfortable there. He's always been a very talented person, so I'm super-happy for him.”
After moving around, it seems as though Oladipo has finally settled in with the Pacers.
"I'm glad to be a Pacer," Oladipo said. "I feel like I'm home.”
There is no reason not to expect his success to continue into the future. Alongside Myles Turner and Sabonis (who has seemed to tag along with him wherever he goes), Oladipo seems to not only be a candidate to lead the Pacers in the short term, but also for the foreseeable future.