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KD’s Departure Opens Up Runway For Oladipo’s Arrival in OKC
This offseason was definitely full of mood swings for the Oklahoma City Thunder fans. The offseason started with the Thunder trading away fan favorite Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo. The trade was huge on draft night and everyone was excited about the championship push the Oklahoma City Thunder were about to make. The Thunder were only 1 game away from the NBA Finals 3 times and the fans were anxious to get back to the Finals for the 1st time since 2012. That didn’t happen as we all know that they lost to the Golden State Warriors 4-3 in the Western Conference Finals. What the Thunder fans didn’t know was that Golden State was about to beat the Thunder in the offseason as well once Kevin Durant joined them in free agency. The thought of having a good two-way player like Victor Oladipo added to the Dynamic Duo of KD and Westbrook was no longer a thought anymore with KD’s departure.
Once Kevin Durant left everyone in Oklahoma City was nervous that Russell Westbrook wouldn’t sign the contract extension to stay in OKC. We later learned that Russell Westbrook was already thinking about his future in OKC when he asked GM Sam Presti “What’s Next” after the departure of Kevin Durant. Well, Russell Westbrook now knows “What’s Next” and that’s the untapped potential of Victor Oladipo in this Oklahoma City Thunder system. The arrival of Victor Oladipo is just what the Oklahoma City Thunder need to get back on track after KD’s departure. Victor Oladipo has always given the Thunder problems when his Orlando Magic faced OKC. Against the Thunder, Victor Oladipo averaged 22 PTS, 6.5 REB, and 4.6 AST in just three seasons in the NBA.
Victor Oladipo has been one of the most exciting players to watch in the NBA in the last couple of seasons. Victor is known for his defense and being able to turn a turnover into points for his team. Victor Oladipo has been slept on when it comes to his offensive game and honestly it hasn’t been known why. Every year that Victor Oladipo has been in the league he has progressed and hasn’t stopped his pace. The Thunder fans have to be excited because they have Victor Oladipo before he even reaches his prime and scratches the surface of greatness in the NBA. In Victor’s career, he’s averaged 15.9 points per game and he has the raw talent that can’t be ignored. The ability to be able to lock down your opponent and be able to score on them in the NBA is extremely rare. Victor Oladipo has the potential to be put in the conversation with Jimmy Butler and Paul George as one of the best two-way players he just needed that opportunity. Oladipo now has that opportunity with Kevin Durant departing for Golden State to come into OKC and leave his mark in the hearts of Oklahomans.
People have to realize that this will be the first time in his career he will be on a winning team. The Orlando Magic were constantly in the NBA Draft Lottery mix year after year and this will be the first time he gets to play with an organization known for winning 50+ games in a season. Victor Oladipo has already made a name for himself and with a chance to be in the postseason and actually be one of the reasons that Oklahoma City can stay relevant in the championship talk.
Victor Oladipo Stats
Victor Oladipo was 1-of-8 players to average at least 16.0 PTS, 4.5 REB, 3.5 AST, and 1.5 STL last season.
Victor Oladipo was in good company for those that averaged 16 PTS, 4.5 REB, 3.5 AST, and 1.5 STL last season:
Victor Oladipo and Giannis Antetokounmpo were the only players 23 or younger to average at least 16 PTS, 4.5 REB, 3.5 AST last season.
Victor Oladipo was 1-of-9 players 23 years old or younger to average at least 16 points per game last season.
Along with Victor Oladipo, here were the other players 23 years old or young to average at least 16.0 points.
The Russell Westbrook Effect
The huge addition to Victor Oladipo’s career will no doubt be playing alongside Russell Westbrook. In Orlando, he had Elfrid Payton who was very good in his own right but Russell Westbrook is on another level. The way that Russell Westbrook plays will rub off on Victor Oladipo like it did his teammates over his career. Victor’s very intense in his own right and playing alongside the odds on favorite to win the NBA MVP Award for the 2016-2017 will definitely enhance that intensity level. The potential of greatness with this backcourt is very scary for the NBA because if they’re both clicking on all cylinders you have two players that never give up on a play. This will probably go down as one of the most athletic backcourts that the NBA has ever seen.
With Kevin Durant leaving to go to Golden State this will give Victor Oladipo the chance to grow and prove to everyone he’s got what it takes to play on a contender. Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo will be the new dynamic duo and will get the majority of the shots. In Orlando, Victor was averaging 13.4 shots per game and he’s bound to see an increase in volume in this system with Billy Donovan. Another huge key for Oladipo is the fact that he takes it personal on the defensive end and wants to shut down his opponent every time down the floor. Oladipo’s defense creates his offense as well and that’s huge for the Thunder who will be looking for Westbrook on fast breaks if that occurs.
Overall this will be an exciting step in Oladipo’s career and this will be interesting to watch in OKC. With the raw talent and the potential level extremely high for Victor the sky’s definitely the limit with the Thunder. It should be noted that Oladipo’s a restricted free agent in the summer of 2017. The Thunder fans have a lot to look forward too and that starts with Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo who’s not even 25 years of age yet. The Thunder will need to get the best out of Oladipo and I think that they will get just that knowing this is his first time on a winning team. Victor won’t fill that void of Kevin Durant but he can get close enough to it that people will forget the past and remember the present with Oladipo and Westbrook running the show with a young Steven Adams ready to bully anyone in the paint for them.
Another cool thing that Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo both have in common is that they’re both under Jordan Brand. They both have the intensity and athleticism to play for Jordan Brand because they both can fly like Mike. They will be wearing Oklahoma City Thunder colorways in the Air Jordan 31 and the Superfly 5.
Photo Cred – Getty Images, USAToday.com,Phgraphix,