Pacers’ Oladipo: ‘I play nothing safe now’

Indiana Pacers shooting guard Victor Oladipo has changed his mindset when it comes to the game of basketball, saying he pushes the envelope as opposed to playing it safe like he did earlier in his career.

Oladipo was named the 2017-18 Most Improved Player. As the main option on offense in Indiana, Oladipo averaged 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists, shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three during the regular-season.

The previous year with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Oladipo posted 15.9 points per game.

“I push the envelope. I play nothing safe now,” Oladipo told J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star. “I’m the guy if we’re down two, I’m pulling up for three. I work too hard to not push the envelope. I used to be conservative, but that really didn’t get me anywhere.”

Oladipo and the Pacers won 48 games in 2017-18, but lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first-round of the playoffs in seven games. But now that LeBron James is out West, the Pacers have a chance to make a run in the East, with Oladipo leading the way.

Oladipo’s trainer, Al Watson, talked about getting Oladipo more prepared for defenses that focus on him now that he has emerged as one of the best shooting guards in the league.

“Last year, we started doing a lot of tightening up his ball-handling skills. This year, we took it to another level because I watch a lot of film on him,” Watson said. “In the fourth quarter, he’s like the point guard. Wanted to focus on a lot of combination moves, working on traps. It’s no secret now. They’re going to be double-teaming him.

“You look at the great players, Kobe [Bryant], they had to do a little bit of everything. His shot from the perimeter may be off, so he’s got to learn, ‘Let me get myself going, get to the mid-post, get some fouls.’ He’s got to be able to attack with all different facets of the game. We do a lot of sprinting, getting to your spots. Got to get open. I touch everything with in-game situation stuff.”

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