December 10, 2017: The true arrival of Victor Oladipo, the NBA star. The fourth year guard put up a career-high 47 points on 15-of-28 shooting, 6-of-12 three-point shots, 11-of-13 from the free throw line, on top of seven rebounds, six assists, and a couple of steals.
It wasn't when the Orlando Magic selected him second overall during the 2013 NBA draft. It wasn't when he recorded his first career triple-double against the guy whom he would eventually lose the title of Rookie of the Year to.
It wasn't when he finished second in the Slam Dunk Contest behind the man who would go on and defend his title. It wasn't when he scored a (then) career-high 45 points, becoming the ninth player in Magic history to score 40.
Despite these accomplishments, Oladipo has seen himself being traded twice in as many seasons for "better" players (Serge Ibaka, Paul George). It's quite surprising, until you learn that all of those career milestones came in losses.
During his time in Orlando, people had doubts about him being the franchise player due to inconsistenties, especially on the offense. As a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Oladipo just both wasn't Kevin Durant and a good fit for Russell Westbrook.
When the Thunder dealt him and Domantas Sabonis to the Indiana Pacers for George, everyone was praising GM Sam Presti for the "highway robbery." OKC were instantly touted as contenders, while the Pacers seemed to have embraced the rebuild.
Well, what do you know, Indiana is currently No. 5 in the East, thanks to career-high averages from Oladipo across the board—24.5 points (on 51% shooting from the field), 5.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.1 blocks, and 2.7 three-point shots (44%).
Mr. 540 has been handed the keys to the city and is masterfully orchestrating one of the most exciting, young teams in the league. Now, the Pacers faithful are calling him Victor "Paul Who?" Oladipo—a title that he isn't too fond of.
"I'm kind of getting sick and tired of the comparisons with Paul George and myself," he told Pacers.com. "We've all moved on. Life takes its course and things happen. I'm happy here, he's happy there. I wish them all the best and I'm feathery. Feathery right here as a Pacer."
Why wouldn't the early All-Star and Most Improved Player candidate be annoyed? Such a comparison is an insult with the way he's been playing.