Victor Oladipo 2018-19 Season Highlights

Check out some of the top plays from Pacers guard Victor Oladipo's 2018-19 season.

Victor Oladipo 2019 Season Review

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Victor Oladipo 2018-19 Season Highlights

Check out some of the top plays from Pacers guard Victor Oladipo's 2018-19 season.
May 4, 2019  |  00:59

Highlights: Oladipo's Outstanding Week

Nov. 5, 2018 - Pacers guard Victor Oladipo was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played from Oct. 29 - Nov. 4. Check out some of his best plays from the week.
Nov 5, 2018  |  01:58

Player Review 2019: Victor Oladipo

by Mark Montieth Writer

Age: 27
Years Pro: 6
Status: Has two years remaining on his contract.
Key Stats: Played in just 36 games because of two injuries. Averaged 18.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists.

Victor Oladipo has this knack for proving his value by not playing as much as by playing. While the Pacers managed to win games without him this past season, an improvement over a year ago, he remained conspicuous by his absence to the season's final buzzer.

His teammates won 48 games without him, a notable accomplishment that resonated throughout the NBA, but they couldn't beat the elite teams with any consistency. That included Boston, which swept them out of the first round of the playoffs and won three out of four regular season games. Without Oladipo, the Pacers were a competitive team that lacked a creator and closer. With him, they likely would have finished as the third or fourth seed in the East and tempted a far more positive playoff fate.

Oladipo missed 11 games after coming down with what was described as a sore right knee five minutes into the matchup with Atlanta on Nov. 17. He returned for 20 games, then tore the quadricep muscles in the same knee in the second quarter of the game against Toronto on Jan. 23 and was lost for the season.

And perhaps for part of next season, too. It's impossible to predict when he'll be able to play again, but the rehabilitation is said to be going well and he remains as optimistic as ever. He's a "positive butterfly," as he puts it, and promised Kevin Pritchard when they met for dinner last Sunday that he would return better than ever.

"Victor brings a presence," Pritchard said. "He hits the reset button every day and...that refreshing personality probably was what we missed most."

PHOTO GALLERY: Victor Oladipo's 2018-19 Season in Photos »

The Pacers went 7-4 without Oladipo after he went down the first time, a dramatic improvement over last season when they were 0-7 and barely competitive in the games he missed. But when he was lost for the remainder of the season in January, spirits sagged. They lost four consecutive games — three on the road and a home game with Golden State — before regrouping.

Visiting him in the hospital in Miami, where he had his surgery and conducted the early stages of his rehabilitation, helped them hit the reset button he's made famous — and literal. They went on to win six consecutive games and were competitive in nearly every game the rest of the season.

Oladipo's absence somewhat obscured what had gone on during his presence. The Pacers were 25-11 when he played, a success rate (69 percent) that if carried through the entire season would have brought 56 victories and made them the No. 3 seed for the playoffs. They might have wound up with fewer victories than that because of the demanding March schedule, but they still likely would have earned the third seed.

They were on that pace despite the fact he wasn't playing as well as the previous season. His scoring average (18.8), field goal percentage (.423), 3-point percentage (.343) and free throw percentage (.730) all were lower than in 2017-18. He seemed to struggle with his approach at times, wanting to stand out and carry his team but dealing with the reality the team was better when he tended to fit in.

The Pacers were 16-3 this past season when Oladipo took 15 shots or fewer, including the victories in the two games (Atlanta and Toronto) when he departed early with injuries. They were 2-6 when he took more than 20 shots.

The same formula applied the previous season, when the Pacers were 21-3 when he took 15 shots or less but were 9-21 when he took more than 20.

Victor Oladipo

Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

Usually, something fluky had to happen for the Pacers to lose when Oladipo limited his field goal attempts. They lost to a 7-23 Cleveland team at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in December when he took 15 shots, but only because (1) he hit only four of them, (2) he missed two free throws with 9.5 seconds left, and (3) the referees missed a foul call when Larry Nance Jr. shoved him out of the way for the game-winning rebound basket at the buzzer.

Watching his teammates win without him during his initial 11-game absence convinced him to dial it back a bit. That seemed to rob him of some of his mojo, but it paid off. During the 20-game stretch before he was lost for the season, he attempted more than 20 shots just once, at Chicago. He hit 14 of them, and the Pacers won by three points. Also during that stretch, they were 10-2 when he had more than five assists.

The impact of his approach was neatly summarized in one stretch early in the season. He took 23 shots and hit eight in the loss at Minnesota on Oct. 22. He took 12 shots and hit seven (and had nine assists) in the next game, a win at San Antonio. He took 15 shots and hit 10 in the next game, a win at Cleveland. He took 24 shots and hit nine in the next game, a homecourt loss to Portland.

All of this isn't to say Oladipo never should shoot more than 15 or even 20 times in a game, but it points out the benefit of a balanced offense. It also should be pointed out that while his shooting and scoring stats declined from the previous season, his rebounding and assist averages improved. And, it should further be pointed out that he still had offensive explosions of the type nobody else on the roster was capable. He only played in 36 games, but still owns the team's best highlight reel.

To identify a few:

He hit the game-winning 3-pointer from the right corner after Thaddeus Young rescued Bojan Bogdanovic's airballed 3-pointer in the win at New York on Oct. 31. He hit he game-winning 3-pointer in transition with 3.4 seconds left in the Pacers' only win over Boston on Nov. 2, and then stole the inbound pass to prevent the Celtics from countering. He scored 36 points in the victory at Chicago on Jan. 4, capping off a nine-point overtime outburst with a banked-in, game-winning 3-pointer.

He also scored 20 or more points in 13 consecutive games from Oct. 19 through Nov. 11 and was voted to the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season despite his injury.

Oladipo turns 27 today (May 4). Hardened by growing pains and physical pains, he should be entering his peak seasons. Clearly, the Pacers need him — desperately, even — to challenge for anything meaningful. But clearly they are a better team — a very good team, even — when he takes a more balanced approach to offense and doesn't focus too intently on scoring. Lets the game come to him, as the cliché does.

Oladipo figures to rejoin a significantly different roster next season, but he likely will continue to have the greatest impact on outcomes. If nothing else, last season established a template for how best to implement his positive presence.

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Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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