Pacers' Victor Oladipo: 'It Hurt' for NBA to Pause so Soon After Injury Return

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2020

Indiana Pacers' Victor Oladipo (4) dribbles during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors, Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, in Indianapolis. Toronto won 115-106. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo suffered a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee during a game against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 23, 2019.  

He didn't return until Jan. 29 this year and appeared to be finding his footing again when the season was put on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It hurt just because it took me a while to come back and then, obviously, this happens and now you miss more," Oladipo said Thursday, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN). "I was out there playing, going as best I can, as hard as I can. To say if I was 100 percent out there, I don't know if I could say that. I'm just going to try and do my best to get better and get stronger."

Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said asking Oladipo to play 40 minutes per game if and when the season resumes would be too much, even with the break in action.

"We want to put a plan in place for Victor to come back," he said. "But you know me, we will err on the side of caution with Victor, and the long term, every day. We do that with all of our players. But Victor's situation does create some special, unique circumstances."

Oladipo is averaging 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game this season, a far cry from the 23.1 points per night he put up during the 2017-18 campaign—and even the well-rounded 18.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.7 steals he averaged before the injury last season.

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However, he was starting to look like his typical explosive self for longer stretches right before the season was suspended.

The Indiana product poured in 27 points against the Boston Celtics in his team's most recent game and posted 16 points, seven assists and four rebounds against the Dallas Mavericks in the prior contest.

It wasn't that difficult to envision him rounding into form by playoff time for a Pacers team that is 39-26 and in the Eastern Conference's No. 5 spot.

Now he, along with the rest of the league, will have to work off some rust if the season does return, although Indiana is well-positioned to serve as a threat in any playoff series.