Victor Oladipo is arguably the second-best player on the Thunder roster.
His ability to slash to the rim and finish is great; his shooting stroke from the corners is even greater. He can defend and create on offense.
Oladipo is listed as a shooting guard, and he can play the position well. When he plays with Russell Westbrook passing him the ball, it makes his job much easier.
The past two games, Oladipo has been sidelined with back spasms. Alex Abrines has started in his place and played well. Abrines has made eight 3-pointer’s and scored a career-high 19 points against the Lakers on Friday night. He played 35 minutes against the Pelicans on Sunday night and he is relishing his first two starts of his NBA career.
Abrines has shown he is capable of starting in the NBA. His shooting ability helps space the floor with the starting unit, and if he continues to knock down shots it will make him more valuable to this team.
None of this is Oladipo’s fault. His health is important to this team with about a month and a half until the playoffs start. But with the recent trades and improvements to the roster, it gives Thunder coach Billy Donovan more flexibility with the roster.
Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott are both capable of starting. They both give you scoring on offense. Gibson is one of the best defensive bigs in the league and McDermott’s defense has improved greatly since he entered the league.
Donovan has a problem, but a good one. There’s a lot of talent on the roster and its hard to figure out minutes especially with the new pieces around.
When the Thunder traded away Cameron Payne, they lost a player who was the most reliable backup point guard on the roster. Semaj Christon is growing and needs to continue to play to grow his game, but the Thunder could benefit from Oladipo being the backup point guard.
Oladipo has come off the bench 57 times in his career. He’s started all 48 games he’s played with Oklahoma City, though Donovan has experimented with him in the backup role. Oladipo would go to the bench early and come back with the second unit. He wasn’t the point guard, but he handled the ball in the second unit a lot.
If Oladipo was the backup point guard, the starters could be Westbrook-Abrines-Roberson-Gibson/Sabonis-Adams. Oladipo could come off the bench while still playing 30 minutes a night. He’s playing 33.7 a game as a starter. The minutes wouldn’t change much.
Oladipo-McDermott-Grant/Sabonis-Kanter could be the players to make contributions of the bench. OKC would have three scorers coming off the bench with Oladipo, McDermott and Kanter. Sabonis and Grant could switch depending on matchups and if you need more offense or defense.
Therefore, Oladipo could be a backup point guard and help this team tremendously. His ability to create off the dribble and score would open up the bench’s offense and help the team become stronger heading into the playoffs.