Heat’s Sixth Sense With Victor Oladipo Paying off During Comeback: When he looks in the mirror, Victor Oladipo still recognizes the former All-Star and All-NBA player. That viewpoint is reflected in his interviews.
So, no, there hasn’t been any discussion about him perhaps becoming a contender for Sixth Man of the Year in this most recent phase of his career.
However, there have been compromises made in secret. Erik Spoelstra, the head coach of the Miami Heat, at least sees it that way.
And for that reason, the 30-year-old guard’s most recent return is hopeful.
“If you ask a former All-NBA player and former All-Star, regardless of what they’ve gone through, most, I would say 90 percent of them, would say, ‘No, way. Put me in a position to be who I was,’ ” Spoelstra said of Oladipo first embracing a Heat playmaking/defensive role, then settling in as the sixth man. “He understood that this would take some time and be patient with this process.”
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The Heat’s season started on October 19; Oladipo’s season began on December 6 after he dealt with preseason knee problems, the most recent in a string of setbacks and ailments over the previous five seasons.
“Ultimately, it would be about delayed gratification and to build it up in a healthy way,” Spoelstra said, with the Heat opening a three-game trip Monday against the Atlanta Hawks. “And he hasn’t skipped any steps. He’s built up his body. He’s taken every role and then conquered that role to get to the next one, and he’s been a great boost for us.”
In the Dec. 20 home defeat to the Chicago Bulls, Spoelstra initially made a mistake by starting Oladipo. Before Monday, there had been 18 appearances, with 17 coming from the bench.
Oladipo’s success as a sixth man, in Spoelstra’s opinion, is “very crucial.” “And it is what we had in mind. That was the position we assigned him at the outset of training camp. From his resume, we could tell it would be a sacrifice. But this was the thing that made the most sense, given what his next four years would be like. We also wanted to be patient with him throughout the process. We recognized the possibility of that, regardless of how long it could take.
“And he will continue to get more comfortable, get his legs under him, and understand his role. I’ve said it before. We’ve just really enjoyed being on the journey with him. Particularly when he’s had to overcome so much, it’s fun to see him have that joy for the game and his teammates and have an impact on winning.”
With Tyler Herro playing his way to NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2022, the Heat prospered last season. Oladipo had the chance to take on that position this season because Herro had advanced to the starting lineup.
It has evolved into a win-win scenario to ease the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft back into the action.
“Overall, it’s beneficial,” Oladipo said. “When you’ve missed as much basketball as I have, the key to getting your rhythm and the feeling of just playing. So whatever opportunity I have to play, it’s beneficial for me.”
— Victor Oladipo (@VicOladipo) October 14, 2022
In recent weeks, there have been opportunities to reinstate Oladipo as the starter, as he was with the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers, and Houston Rockets, with Herro losing time with a sore Achilles and Kyle Lowry still out with knee soreness.
It has been a case of living in the now, the sixth-man moment, even if Oladipo can take another stab at free agency in the offseason because he holds a $9.5 million Heat player option next season.
Spoelstra added, “He’s a huge X-factor for our squad. We had hoped for that, so. That’s what we were expecting. Even two years ago, the year after the bubble, when we acquired him, I believed the team had a chance to be incredibly excellent. And it didn’t last long. But even in those four games, you could sense that something was off: “OK, this looks odd.” This is going to be beneficial for our team.
“And that’s what you see right here. He’s had the mental and emotional stability to let it happen at the right pace and happen organically.” Keep yourself updated with all the latest news from our website Newswatchlist.com and get all the recent updates.