Too Good To Be True Usually Is

The Victor Oladipo is just as good as Paul George myth has taken a nosedive as Oladipo’s game has cratered to the lowest common denominator and Paul George is doing his level best to shake off Russ Westbrook’s selfishness, something Oladipo experienced last year. It’s more fantasy than reality that a superstar player who has rejected a sports town can be replaced by someone who works really hard and is dedicated, even if that someone is on the come up and made the All-Star team for the first time in his career. To quote the late great football mind Dennis Green: Victor Oladipo is who we thought he was. And so is Paul George.

In game 5 on Wednesday, a critical game for the balance of the Indy-Cleveland series because the game 5 winner usually wins the series, Oladipo made 2 shots and scored 12 points. His offensive rating was 76. In game 4, he made 5 shots (out of 20), scored 17 points and his offensive rating was 84. Not exactly making everyone forget Paul George.

Game 5 Points FG% 3-Point% Offensive Rating
Victor Oladipo (vs. Cleveland) 2 13.3% 14.3% 76
Paul George (vs. Utah) 34 46.2% 33.3% 112

In game 3, Oladipo connected on 5 shots (out of 15), scored 18 points and his offensive rating was 93. The Pacers were saved, not by Oladipo, who by the way is making $21 million this year, more than Paul George is making by two million, but Bojan Bogdanovic’s 30 points. He rescued the Pacers from the abyss.

The 118 Offensive Rating Victor Oladipo earned in game 1 has quietly and sadly disappeared. So has any Pacer momentum, having lost two in a row and only scoring 100 points once in the series. You beat the Cavs by being shot makers.

Oladipo is shooting 36% in the playoffs with an offensive rating of 95 and a usage rate of 30.2%. His defense has been suffocating. But the Pacers who are thin offensively, need Oladipo to actually be Paul George, a two way player.

Pacers Career (Regular Season) Points FG% 3-Point% Win%
Victor Oladipo 23.1 47.7% 37.1% 58%
Paul George 18.1 43.2% 37.0% 55%

In the 2018 playoffs, Paul George is shooting 45% and 41% from three with an offensive rating of 109. His defense isn’t as strong as Oladipo’s is but George is putting the ball in the hole for 28 points. From game to game, he’s been consistent, save one terrible shooting performance in Game 2. But George is finding out the hard way what Oladipo discovered last year. It’s near impossible to play with a high usage player like Russell Westbrook.

A month before the playoffs started, everyone wanted to believe that Victor Oladipo stepped into Paul George’s shoes and Indy wasn’t the worse for it. It was magic. But Vic is not George. He isn’t 6-9. He lacks George’s length and elite scoring talent. They both play with an edge and Victor Oladipo is a good player. But this is a new education.

Oladipo is discovering how hard it is to carry a team in the playoffs when the other team has the time and undivided attention to deconstruct your weaknesss and use them against you. To have the focus of the Cavs defense start and end with Victor Oladipo, and have Oladipo be able to thwart their good intentions, is a near impossible task.

It makes you respect James Harden and Steph Curry and even Donovan Mitchell, players the defense keys up on, double teams, harrasses, bullies, and still they find a way to drop 27 points a game and carry their team. Clearly, there are some Oladipo holes. He has twice as many turnovers as anyone on the Pacers and a 13% increase of usage over the Pacers point guard Darren Collison. His decision making, at times, has been suspect and his offensive rating is the worst on the team when his offensive rating should be the best.

Still, Oladipo has defied all expectations while George has reminded everyone he is Paul George. Prediction and prognostication is a failure business. You are going to get some things wrong.

Wrong is what everyone thought the Pacers would be. Surprisingly, they were better in the regular season without Paul George. The Pacers won six more games without George and a whopping eight more road games. Their home record was nearly the same as last year. They were a five seed instead of a seven seed and their first two games in Cleveland, the Pacers looked like they had a decent shot against the LeBron James crew.

It was a false reality.

This is what is real. Both Oladipo and Paul George may have the ultimate thing in common despite their many diffferences: losing to LeBron James in the first round in back to back years. The distinction is that George was swept and Oladipo won twice as many games (so far) against the Cavs than George. It makes you wonder before you regain your senses, is that better?

Only if the Pacers dethrone the King. Otherwise, no. Not much gained. Not better. But not worse either.