NBA free agency began on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET, and Victor Oladipo was quick ink a new contract. The former Indiana basketball All-American signed a one-year deal worth $11 million to return to the Miami Heat.
Oladipo will begin his 10th NBA season next year. It will be his second full season on the Heat after being traded to Miami during the 2020-2021 season. He started his professional career on the Orlando Magic after three seasons at Indiana University.
Oladipo was a fairly unknown recruit when he committed to Indiana under head coach Tom Crean. He was a three-star recruit and the No. 136 player in the class of 2010 out of Dematha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md.
He started five games for the Hoosiers as a freshman and averaged 7.4 points per game, but he didn't show his true NBA All-Star potential until his junior season in Bloomington. Oladipo was the second-leading scorer behind Cody Zeller on an Indiana team that won the 2013 Big Ten title and was ranked No. 1 in the country in 10 of the 20 AP top-25 polls.
After being selected with the second-overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Oladipo spent three seasons on the Orlando Magic where he averaged as much as 17.9 points per game. He was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder before the 2016-2017 season, where he averaged 16 points per game in one season. He then returned home to the Indiana Pacers in a trade for Paul George, where he became a two-time All-Star. His next stop was in Houston, where he appeared in just 20 games for the Rockets.
After missing the better part of three seasons with injuries, Oladipo proved he can still play at a high level as a member of the Miami Heat during the 2022 NBA Playoffs. He scored 23 points in Miami's series-clinching win over the Atlanta Hawks on April 26, and averaged 24.5 minutes per game during the playoffs. After this win over the Hawks, Oladipo opened up about the struggles he went through during his injury rehab.
"Around this time last year, I was sitting in a dark room by myself and just broke down," Oladipo said after defeating the Hawks. "Not because I quit, but because I was at the lowest point I could be at. And now God has put me in this position today, so I just made the most of it."
Oladipo worked his way into a key role off the bench for the Heat, including two 23-point games and six games with double-digit points in the playoffs. He played over 23 minutes per game for the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, averaging 9.7 points, three rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
While Oladipo and the Heat lost on their home court 100-96 in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals, Oladipo showed flashes of the player that was drafted with the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. He posted a team-high +16 plus/minus in game seven, scoring nine points with five rebounds and three assists. Oladipo, the 2013 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, was also an integral part of Miami's defense, which ranked among the NBA's best all season.
Over his nine-year professional career, Oladipo has averaged 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He is a two-time NBA All-Star and was named to the 2013-2014 All-Rookie team. During the 2017-2018 season on the Indiana Pacers, Oladipo won the NBA's Most Improved Player Award after raising his scoring average from 15.9 to 23.1 points per game. In the same season, he was also named to the All-NBA third team and the All-Defensive first team, leading the NBA with 2.4 steals per game.
Oladipo will now look to continue his career revival in Miami.
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