Victor Oladipo Expected to Make Heat Debut Thursday vs. Warriors

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2021

Houston Rockets guard Victor Oladipo (7, left) loses control of the ball in front of Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters on Wednesday that guard Victor Oladipo is expected to make his debut with the team for Thursday's game vs. the Golden State Warriors

Oladipo, 28, was acquired by the Heat ahead of last week's trade deadline for veteran guard Avery Bradley, forward Kelly Olynyk and 2022 first-round pick swap rights.

Oladipo came to the Rockets this season as a part of the giant James Harden trade, though his time with them didn't go particularly well. He averaged 21.2 points and 5.0 assists in 20 games with the Rockets but shot just 40.7 percent from the field and 32.0 percent from three. 

That followed a disappointing 2019-20 season with Indiana that saw Oladipo average 14.5 points while shooting 39.4 percent from the field and 31.7 percent from three. 

The question with Oladipo remains whether he can return to his third-team All-NBA form from 2017-18 (23.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.3 APG) or if he'll continue struggling to stay on the court—he's played in just 29 games this year, 19 last year and 36 in 2018-19 due to injuries—and posting inefficient numbers on the offensive end. 

For Miami, giving up Bradley, Olynyk and a pick swap was a relatively low cost to pay to find out. If Oladipo thrives with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and the Heat's supporting cast down the stretch, they not only improved their title odds in the short term but will head into this summer's free agency with a leg up on signing him to a long-term contract. 

And if he struggles, they didn't give up much for the rental. 

One thing's for certain—Oladipo came with the Dwyane Wade seal of approval, as Spoelstra told reporters Wednesday:

"I feel like I know Vic. I did reach out to Dwyane. They've been working out together for years. And Dwyane, Vic and Coach Crean would always do like a weeklong training camp during the summer and get together. And I was always aware about what was going on during that week.

"So we're very familiar with him. We feel comfortable with guys that have been coached by Coach Crean, because you're going to get developed the right way and held accountable to the details. And I think you see that in his play. He's an IQ player that sees the game."

Victor Oladipo @VicOladipo

Thank you family 🙏🏿🙌🏿 https://t.co/krfKJzA0ai

That's a pretty big supporter to have on your side, especially in Miami. The Heat will begin their own evaluation on Thursday night.