While there were many shocking deals this summer in the NBA off-season, one of the most surprising involved Indiana University alumni Victor Oladipo, who was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of a blockbuster deal involving Thunder big man Serge Ibaka.
Oladipo's time in Orlando was an up-and-down one. After making the All-Rookie team in his first season spending time both as a shooting guard and a point guard, the Magic drafted another offensively-challenged guard in Elfrid Payton.
The two never quite gelled and Oladipo was seen as the odd man out this season, spending time coming off the bench as the sixth man before eventually returning to the line-up.
With a host of assets and an owner and general manager entering "win-now" mode, the Magic moved Oladipo to the Thunder. Weeks after moving to Oklahoma City, however, the Thunder were dealt the crushing blow of seeing Kevin Durant bolt for the Golden State Warriors.
The aftermath sees Oladipo in a much different situation than the one presented to him in Orlando. As it stands, Russell Westbrook is still on the Thunder, something could change in the coming days, weeks or months.
With him, the Thunder possess one of, if not the most, athletic back courts in the league. Westbrook and Oladipo are known for their intensity and ferocity paired with eye-popping athleticism. Unleashing them together on opposing back courts would be unfair.
Offensively, the burden of being "The Guy" is totally off Oladipo's shoulders. Westbrook is as alpha as they come and will fully embrace being the star on the team, regardless of where he lands.
The duo of Westbrook and Oladipo showed what they were capable of in one of the most entertaining games last season. After Oladipo hit a go-ahead three-pointer with just seconds left in the fourth, Westbrook answered by banking in a three-pointer before the horn in a game that would eventually be decided in double overtime.
Oladipo finished the night with 21 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists while Westbrook had 48 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
Defensively, the duo will be able to harass back courts like few other teams in the league can as both use their athleticism to succeed on both ends of the court. Last season, Oladipo averaged 1.6 steals per game, which still stands as less than Westbrook's 2.0 steals per game.
Oladipo's role on offense will likely change as he'll need to knock down three-pointers at a more consistent level than in years past to complement Westbrook's slashing style of play. Last year, Oladipo shot 34.8% from three-point territory and hit just 35.6% on catch-and-shoot threes. Both numbers will need to improve for the Thunder to succeed.
With Westbrook, Oladipo has his best chance of succeeding since entering the league. He can be out of the spotlight offensively, a role more suited for him, while still making big plays all over the court.
Should Westbrook be traded, Oladipo's role changes yet again. With the Celtics the most likely destination for Westbrook and the likes of Marcus Smart and/or Jae Crowder, among others, coming back, the Thunder would likely rely on Oladipo for offense.
However, no matter who is playing beside him next season, the fit will be better than in Orlando. Whether it's Westbrook or Smart as his counterpart in the back court or even Andre Robinson, should Billy Donovan use Oladipo as a point guard, the fit is more natural than the one experienced with Payton the last two seasons.
For the sake of both Oklahoma City and NBA fans, Westbrook staying in Oklahoma City, at least for at least part of this season, will give the Thunder a dynamic, explosive back court and give those watching at home easily one of the best League Pass teams in the NBA.