Victor Oladipo Gives Pacers Rare Superstar
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INDIANAPOLIS – The talent of a McDonald’s All-American, with the work ethic of a walk-on.
That is Victor Oladipo, the All-Star shooting guard of the Indiana Pacers.
“Victor is the most unique talent I’ve ever seen,” team president Kevin Pritchard begins about his star. “Not only because he’s so committed to becoming the best he can possibly be, but he’s really an amazing human being. If your best player is your best worker, it’s like you get embarrassed if you are not that kind of guy or that kind of worker. That trickles down to the entire organization.
“The hardest thing to get in this business is to get an elite player. Even harder to get than that is an elite player, who is your best human being. We feel like we hit the jackpot.”
Pritchard recalls last season when the Pacers did hit a speed bump and lost a couple of games in a row. There was Oladipo’s positive attitude back in the gym reassuring everyone that things were going to be alright.
Thanks to Oladipo, things were often more than okay last season for the Pacers.
Say what you will about Paul George, but it’s clear that Oladipo’s presence off the court sent much better vibes throughout the locker room than the atmosphere the year prior.
“He’s infections, positively infectious,” is how Pritchard describes the 26-year-old guard.
In terms of Oladipo’s game on the court, fine-tuning his jump shot needs to be a key next season, after his career-best number dipped following the new year.
In the weight room, Nate McMillan wants to see Oladipo stronger in the core area, not bulkier. McMillan sees that as necessary in order for Oladipo to withstand the frequent beating he takes when attacking the rim like he does.
When players depart for the summer, it’s natural for people in the positions of Pritchard or McMillan to worry about their players' motivation needed to work and improve in the offseason.
That’s zero issue with Oladipo.
Some 17 hours after the heartbreaking Game 7 loss to the Cavs, there was Oladipo back in the gym getting up 200 shots and lifting weights.
Pritchard was in the weight room on that Monday morning and couldn’t believe Oladipo was also there to work on the first day of summer vacation.
“He walked over to me (and said), ‘This is just the beginning. I’m taking my workouts this summer to the next level,” Pritchard says of Oladipo’s message the day after the Game 7 loss.
“Now, that’s great for him. We know that that’s Victor. But let me ask you this, what does that do for every other player on our team? If every other player on our team knows that we have a great human, who is our greatest worker, but also our greatest player, you better fall in line or you don’t look right. You can’t walk into the building, ‘I’m not going to work that hard.’ You better follow him.
“To me, putting together a team, the biggest part of that puzzle is having that one guy. Victor’s positively pulls everyone up. Now we have that core player who is totally a foundational piece for our franchise. He is that.”
Follow Kevin on Twitter @KBowen1070