Miami Heat Free Agency: A fair warning about Victor Oladipo

Victor Oladipo #4 of the Indiana Pacers greets Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat after the game. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Victor Oladipo #4 of the Indiana Pacers greets Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat after the game. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Miami Heat have long been linked to Victor Oladipo ahead of the 2021 free agency period, but is he the right fit for what they hope to accomplish?

It’s no secret around the league that Pat Riley and the Miami Heat are big fish hunting come the 2021 offseason. Their top target? 2018-2019 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

And as most operations tend to do, the Heat have a Plan B. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald it’s current Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo:

"“Oladipo returned to the court in January after missing more than a calendar year with a ruptured quadriceps tendon and was predictably rusty, averaging 13.8 points and shooting 39.1 percent from the field and 30.4 percent on threes. But he averaged 23.1 points in 78 games in 2017-18 and 18.8 in 36 games in 2018-19.I would put him No. 1 on the most likely list if Miami doesn’t get Antetokounmpo, and if he returns to his old form — two big ifs.”"

This comes as somewhat of a surprise considering Miami’s top target is the reigning MVP.

As Jackson notes, Oladipo is just 13 games returned from a ruptured quadriceps tendon–a fatal injury to his athleticism. His return to the Pacers lineup went poorly, as expected.

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Oladipo barely had a chance to get into a groove before the season was suspended on March 11th. Once their All-Star and number one option, the guard lacked the speed and athletic ability on which he climbed to stardom from Oklahoma City to Indiana.

Oladipo was notably slower with a wildly inconsistent shot. It didn’t help him that the team had introduced a new ball handler in Malcolm Brogdon in his absence. The two had no time to gel as a backcourt before the season, and 13 games was enough to highlight their challenges.

Then there’s Butler’s…personality. The five-time All-Star has already issued trade requests from two of his three previous teams. How long until his patience runs thin with Oladipo’s rehab?

Is the 28 year old shooting guard what the Miami Heat should be looking for?

What Pat Riley and company are setting out for is a third All-Star to play next to Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The guard’s health aside, should Miami be targeting a shooting guard?

The Heat’s success this season can also be credited to Butler and Adebayo’s personnel. They had two large contributors at shooting guard–Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. While Oladipo may be a more prominent scorer (when healthy), the two youth represent a more sensible approach.

Butler also splits his time between shooting guard and small forward as Miami’s primary ball handler. The time it may take to incorporate Oladipo’s on ball game into this Heat offense may take longer than the team’s championship window will allow.

The Pacers guard is just 28 years old but has played for a number of different teams and systems. None of them are anything close to the hard nosed, slow paced Heat play.

Herro and Robinson will make a combined $5.4 million next season. The latter will head to free agency for the following year, but that’s still a lot of value and depth at shooting guard. Ignoring that for a 28-year old guard with a history of injury doesn’t make much sense.

And if you know Pat Riley and Heat history, they always get the right guy

Next. Why the Heat have an Edge in the NBA Draft. dark

Victor Oladipo is a starting caliber NBA player and All-Star when healthy. But as a shooting guard and given his recent injury, it’s hard to say how hard the Miami Heat should pursue him. Pat Riley and company need to think long and hard about his fit given their aspirations and title window.