Miami Heat: Defining Victor Oladipo’s role in the rotation

Miami Heat

Miami Heat guard Victor Oladipo (4) attempts a three-point shot during the second quarter of a game against the Golden State Warriors
(Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports)

Last season, the Miami Heat traded for Victor Oladipo at the trade deadline, hoping that his talent would support a fatigued team entering the NBA playoffs. Unfortunately, Oladipo suffered a quad tendon injury, which sidelined him for all but four games with the Heat.

As a result of his recent injuries, Oladipo’s value has dropped significantly in the offseason. In an effort to prove himself, Oladipo returned to the Heat on a one-year minimum deal.

Both Oladipo and the Heat should mutually benefit from this deal, as it is a low-risk, high-reward deal for the Heat to sign him to.

Oladipo won’t be available for the start of the season, but he could return as early as November. When he does return, what will his role look like?

Last season, Oladipo was around a 20 point per game scorer. He averaged 20.0 points in nine games with the Pacers and 21.2 points in 20 games with the Rockets. The Pacers finished ninth in the East last year, while the Rockets finished last in the West.

Based on the talent of their roster, the Heat will contend for one of the top spots in the East this year. Once he returns, Oladipo will likely come off the bench, but he should be the fourth option on offense behind Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kyle Lowry.

Victor Oladipo should be a double-digit scorer and elite perimeter defender for the Miami Heat this season

His averages should go down slightly, as he was the second or third option on the Pacers. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him average around 16 points per game once he finds his rhythm.

Oladipo is also a solid playmaker and ball handler. The Heat don’t have too many options for their backup point guard, so expect Oladipo to initiate the offense on occasion.

Oladipo’s defensive ability is where he will shine in Miami. Adding Oladipo to the Heat rotation as early as November will be a problem for opposing teams.

He is excellent at covering quick guards. His speed and deflection ability allow him to defend well off the ball. Should they elect to try the lineup, the Miami Heat could play Kyle Lowry, Victor Oladipo, Jimmy Butler, P.J. Tucker, and Bam Adebayo all at the same time in their primary positions.

The floor spacing in this lineup could be a potential issue, depending on how Oladipo, Butler, and Adebayo’s jumpers look during the season, but it would surely frustrate opposing coaches and have them scratching their heads when planning their offense.

When it is time for the playoffs, Oladipo’s role will be critical for Miami’s success. Since the Miami Heat lack a true NBA superstar, it is extremely important that they have a lot of skilled players who are good at handling their role.

The scoring load will be shared amongst several players on the team. As the first or second player off the bench, it is Oladipo’s job to give the team double-digit scoring and play lockdown defense every night. If he is able to do this while staying healthy, it could elevate the Heat’s level of play to a team that could win it all.