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What’s behind the stunning rise of Victor Oladipo.

At 8:02 p.m. on June 30, 2017, the Oklahoma City police department confirmed that a
Time: 14:05     Date: 13.12.2017
Last US Sport News: What’s behind the stunning rise of Victor Oladipo. NY Post 24 - US News

The alleged crime: The Thunder had stolen four-time All-Star Paul George away from the Pacers for, well, practically nothing, according to social media that day. (It was really guard Victor Oladipo and forward Domantas Sabonis).

And so the script was written. Once a force in the East, rebuilding Indiana was now rolling out the tanks without George, its reliable, go-to superstar.

Enter Oladipo, the No. 2-overall pick in 2013, who is now flourishing with the change of scenery.

Last Wednesday, the 25-year-old scored 27 points and nailed the game-winning 3-pointer to lift Indiana over the Bulls, 98-96.

Two days later, the Pacers snapped the Cavaliers’ 13-game win streak, thanks in large part to another heroic effort from Oladipo (33 points, eight rebounds and five assists). With a minute remaining, he crossed up Kevin Love and calmly sunk another dagger 3-pointer that buried the hottest team in the NBA.

And two days after that, he topped himself again, notching a career-high 47 points (fifth most in franchise history) in a 126-116 overtime win against Denver. Oladipo registered 32 of his 47 in the second half, including eight of Indiana’s last 10 in regulation and six in OT. The performance prompted shouts of “MVP” from the crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Not a bad stretch (enough to earn him Eastern Conference Player of the Week) for a guy brushed aside when the George trade transpired. It is a slightly inflated snapshot of what Oladipo has done all season for the 16-11 Pacers, now fifth in the East. Meanwhile, the Thunder with George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony are a disappointing 12-14, with George set to make his return to Indiana on Wednesday.

We have seen flashes from Oladipo in the past, but nothing like this. He opened his career with Orlando, averaging 15.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists through three seasons. Then he was shipped to Oklahoma City to be Westbrook’s sidekick for a year, and the numbers stayed basically the same.

There were minor explosions along the way, like a 45-point outing as a member of the Magic back in 2016. Yet faith in his potential was certainly waning when he was sent to Indianapolis, where he played college ball for the Hoosiers.

Any faith that withered away has surely been restored. A motivated, “at-home” Oladipo worked tirelessly during the summer, transforming his body via an intense fitness regiment and new diet and developing his pick-and-roll skills.

“All NBA players work, but not every NBA player works on the right stuff,” former Indiana coach Tom Crean told Kevin O’Connor from The Ringer. “Victor has always had an ability, going back to college, to identify and trust what he had to work on to get better.”

With a usage rate that ranks eighth in the NBA (30.9), Oladipo’s efficiency has also increased. He is shooting 49 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc (fourth among players who have hit more than 70 threes, and drastically above his career-average of 34 percent), and owns the fifteenth-best PER (23.5).

George’s averages from his best two seasons in Indy (2015-17): 23.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.8 steals, 44 percent from the field and 38 percent from 3.

If Oladipo and the Pacers can continue at this tempo remains a question. Yet there is no doubting how much the young guard, certainly deserving of his first All-Star bid, has elevated his game and made the highly criticized swap from June look shrewd.

“I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of how good I really can be,” he said.

That is a scary thought for the Thunder and the rest of the NBA.

LaMarcus AldridgeNBAE/Getty Images

With Kawhi Leonard making his season debut Tuesday (13 points, six rebounds in a loss to the Mavericks), let’s take a moment to acknowledge what LaMarcus Aldridge did in his absence.

The power forward averaged 22.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, leading the Spurs to a 19-8 record and third place in the West. His 25.3 PER over that stint ranked seventh in the league.

The frontcourt duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins garners most of the attention in New Orleans, but check out what some of the guards have done in the month of December:

Jrue Holiday (seven games): 24.9 points, 5.0 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 55 percent shooting from the field and 41 percent from 3.

Rajon Rondo (six games): 12.0 points, 11.5 assists, 6.5 rebounds, 57 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from 3.

E’Twaun Moore (seven games): 19.4 points on 62 percent shooting from the field and 68 percent from 3.

Since getting forward Nikola Mirotic back from injury (the result of a brutal punch from teammate Bobby Portis), the Bulls are 3-0 with wins over the Hornets, Knicks and Celtics (albeit without Kyrie Irving). Mirotic is averaging 16.3 points on 55 percent from the field and 50 percent from deep.

When you see it…

1️⃣-2️⃣

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