NBA

Victor Oladipo.

Victor Oladipo explains how Russell Westbrook has inspired his breakout year

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Victor Oladipo is enjoying a breakout season with the Indiana Pacers and could potentially be on course for a first All-Star appearance if he continues in the same vein.

After being traded to Indianapolis by the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of the Paul George trade, the shooting guard has taken his game to new heights this year.

Oladipo is averaging career-highs of 24.9 points, 3.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game and has been the main reason why the Pacers are enjoying a 17-14 record in the Eastern Conference.

He already looks like the favorite to win the Most Improved Player award at the end of the campaign with this remarkable rise.

The former Orlando Magic man has thrived with the added responsibility given to him in Indy and people are now eating their words after heavily criticizing the team for offloading PG13 for Oladipo in the trade.

As a member of the Thunder last season, the 25-year-old had to play second fiddle to Russell Westbrook and was not afforded a big enough role to contribute offensively.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets - Game Two

Many are now claiming that the reigning league MVP held Oladipo back and made him look worse than what he is.

That's not something the Pacers star agrees with, however, and believes his time with Westbrook was inspiring and has credited the superstar point guard for making him a better player.

"One thing I learned from him (Westbrook) is he's on 110 every day," Oladipo said, according to IndyStar's Joseph Spears.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Indiana Pacers

"The thing about me is that he's on 110, I'm trying to get to 115. That's something he kinda instilled in me without doing anything. Just being himself and that's how I am here.

"My teammates will tell you, 'I don't understand how he does it. He's on 110 every day.' I don't know how I do it. It's motivation. I'm chasing something every morning.

"Before I go to sleep, every time I wake up, all I think about is chasing No. 1. Whoever No. 1 is, team, player, that's who I'm chasing and I gotta work hard every day to get there."

Oklahoma City Thunder v Indiana Pacers

This approach is certainly working for the former number two pick and the Pacers are reaping the rewards as they're defying pre-season expectations.

They were expected to be a lottery team but they are looking like serious playoff contenders instead and that's thanks to Oladipo's stunning play.

He may still have some way to go to reach the levels Westbrook has set but he's definitely heading in the right direction.

Topics:
Central Division
Eastern Conference
NBA
Russell Westbrook
Oklahoma City Thunder
Northwest Division
Western Conference
Indiana Pacers

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