What does Victor Oladipo’s return mean for Indiana Pacers’ rotation?

The Indiana Pacers can expect their All-Star guard, Victor Oladipo, back in the rotation for their Jan. 29 matchup against the Chicago Bulls.

The long awaited return of Victor Oladipo is finally around the corner for the Indiana Pacers. Oladipo expressed earlier in the season he would make his return on his own terms, which he has decided will be Jan. 29 at home against the Chicago Bulls.

Without their floor general in Oladipo, the 28-16 Pacers have exceeded expectations during the first half of the season. Battling through a plethora of injuries to start out the year, the Pacers are currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, second in the Central Division.

Oladipo couldn’t be returning to play at a better time this season than just before the All-Star break. If everything goes as planned, Oladipo’s Jan. 29 return gives him and the Pacers eight games to get re-acclimated with each other after not playing with his team for over a year now.

Although he has been rehabbing with the team and even getting some time in with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, nothing compares to challenging yourself against some of the top level competition the NBA has to offer.

Returning before the All-Star break also gives Oladipo the chance to test himself and his progressions, as well as regain some confidence along the way for what could be a potential playoff season for Indiana this year.

The two-time All-Star is determined to get back to playing like he was before his injury a year ago. Oladipo was coming off the best season of his career in 2017-18 where he averaged 23.1 points, 4.3 assists, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.4 steals per game; all while shooting 48 percent from the field and 37 percent from behind the arc.

In a recent interview with Stadium’s Shams Charania, Oladipo said he expects to go “full throttle” and not hold back in his return game against the Bulls.

“I’m not gonna second-guess myself or try to take my time. I’m gonna go full throttle and I’m gonna be aggressive. I’m gonna go at dudes and I’m not gonna shy away from anything because that’s not who I am.”

It’s still a bit unknown as to what coach Nate McMillan plans to do with his rotation in consideration of Oladipo’s eventful return. There’s going to be the obvious minutes restriction moving forward with Oladipo’s availability, but when should he be inserted back into the starting lineup?

The Indiana Pacers are continuing to win games and have put together a great season with the limited pieces they have had throughout the year. A lot of that has to do with the stellar start of the season from Malcolm Brogdon and the All-Star level of play from Domantas Sabonis, but it has been without a doubt a total team effort.

The on-court chemistry has been great as of late this season for the Pacers. The starting rotation of Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, T.J. Warren, Sabonis and Myles Turner has proven to be competitive enough to get the job done this season; as well as the increased production from the role and bench players.

A healthy and confident Victor Oladipo gives the Pacers many options in regards to their rotation. Oladipo’s presence alone will help space and open the floor for scorers like Brogdon and Sabonis, while also adding a great and aggressive defender to the court as well.

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With Oladipo and Turner on the floor together, it’ll be extremely challenging to score points against the 2017-18 NBA leader in steals and the 2018-19 NBA leader in blocks.

Sliding the extremely productive Jeremy Lamb back into his bench role to strengthen the second unit could prove to be beneficial for the team. It also gives the Pacers many different substitution packages consisting of T.J. McConnell, Aaron Holiday and Justin Holiday to bring in energy at any point in the game.

It’s also worth mentioning Oladipo and Sabonis have a lot of experience with each other’s games, as they both were traded from the Orlando Magic to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016 before being traded again to the Indiana Pacers in 2017. Together they both have proved most of the NBA wrong as they have continuously elevated their production.

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Victor Oladipo is a total upgrade for the team and he could be the deciding factor in the Indiana Pacers being a playoff contending team this season.

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