As we wind down with the non-conference season we can take a look at a decent sample size and ask ourselves, is Victor Oladipo the most valuable asset to this team? I would argue he is.
We all like Victor Oladipo. He’s a flashy guard that can get to the rim and has a flair for the dramatics. He’s a guy that old school basketball fans probably aren’t a fan of because of his antics, but if he’s on your team they’re awesome. He can get the crowd out of a slump and on their feet in a flash. There is plenty to love about Victor Oladipo as a secondary option and glue guy for the Indiana Hoosiers. But what if I were to tell you he’s more than that? What if I were to say the argument could be had that Oladipo is the most valuable player on this year’s Hoosiers squad?
When put into the context of position, as a guard, Oladipo may be the best basketball player on the current Hoosiers squad. Certainly Cody Zeller has some of the better statistics, but when you couple stats with how Oladipo affects the game from a guard position it is a close argument. Oladipo has really blossomed this year and it likely allows him to leave school early if he so chooses. Everyone has always been pretty certain of his physical tools from a pro standpoint, but now he is starting to prove his skillset matches his pro aspirations as well.
The biggest knock against Victor has always been his ball handling and shooting. So far this season Vic has taken his shooting to another level and if he can prove sustainability throughout conference on his shooting numbers the improving yet unrefined ball handling can be overlooked by draft experts. But let’s first take a closer look at the improvements that Vic has made on the shooting side of things.
Detractors first step to discrediting his shooting percentage are first going to talk about how all of his shots are around the rim. Certainly that could be the case. He is the only guard in the top 50 (he’s 8th) of raw field goal % this season. Everyone else is either a post player or stretch four. Obviously, this suggest that guys that get a ton of shots 3 feet from the basket are going to have high percentages. Both Zeller and Oladipo get roughly 65% of their shots at the rim. Victor is shooting 80% in those situations. However, he’s still taking 35% of his shots away from the basket and still hits those with great consistency.
‘Dipo is currently shooting 42% from behind the arc. That is currently double his shooting percentage from last season. When Vic does step inside the line for a midrange jumper (which accounts for 15% of his shots) he’s knocking them down at a 43% clip. That is currently good for fourth on the best shooting team in the nation. Victor is doing much more this year to score than just dunking the ball.
Victor is also the fourth most efficient player on the most efficient team in the nation. Trailing only Hulls, Cody and CWat, Vic is worth 1.26 points per possession ending with him. That means, whenever Vic ends the possession on a made shot, assist, defensively rebounded shot or turnover the Hoosiers are scoring 1.26 points. That number is good enough for 83rd in the nation. For comparison’s sake and to rub a little salt in the wound of a "struggling" Kentucky team; Oladipo would pretty easily be UK’s most efficient player this year. Only the less used Kyle Wiltjer can rival Vic’s output.
Add all of that to being one of the best, if not the best, perimeter defender in the nation and I think we’re looking at something special in Victor Oladipo. Assistant AD for broadcast services at Indiana, Jeremy Gray, just tweeted this week that he was ranking all-time Hoosiers and Vic has squeaked into his top 50. Not bad for a relatively unheralded recruit out of the DMV. Oladipo’s work ethic with Tom Crean and staff’s coaching has helped Victor Oladipo blossom into the national title front runner’s top MVP candidate.