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Film room: How can Victor Oladipo maximize Miami’s offensive output?

How can Oladipo help the Heat offense in a new role this upcoming season?

Atlanta Hawks v Miami Heat - Game Five Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It’s been an arduous journey for Victor Oladipo over the last four calendar years.

Since the start of the 2018-19 season, he’s torn his quadriceps (and had surgery) twice, been traded twice to two completely different NBA realms and have dealt with the uphill climb of having to re-establish himself as an NBA player after he made third-team All-NBA in 2017-18.

In 2020-21, Oladipo was dealt from the Indiana Pacers — the third NBA team he’s known, a city where he became beloved — in a four-team megadeal that sent James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince to the Cavaliers, Caris LeVert to the Pacers and Oladipo to the Houston Rockets.

Fast forward two months to the NBA Trade deadline in March of 2021, where he was essentially re-routed to the Miami Heat for Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and a 2022 first-round pick.

Most of you probably know what followed: Oladipo re-injured his quadriceps (for the second time) just four games into his inaugural Heat tenure, prompting his second-surgery in less than three years that ended his season and took the wind out of another comeback attempt.

Oladipo rehabbed and ultimately returned to an oft-injured and fluctuating Heat rotation early last March, and it was a bumpy transition to say the least. His rotation spot was consistently fluctuating from March 7, when he came back against the Houston Rockets, until the end of the regular season into the start of its first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.

Towards the tail-end of the season, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra eventually made the change to take forward Markieff Morris and Oladipo — two players who missed most of the regular season — out of the rotation entirely, as well as making a change to the starting lineup (Max Strus for Duncan Robinson).

The only game with substantial playing time was when he notched a 40-point, 10-rebound, seven-assist outing on 13-of-22 shooting and 5-of-11 from 3-point range against the Orlando Magic without Lowry, Butler, Adebayo, Strus or Caleb Martin in its regular season finale. In his seven other games, the Heat scored just 102.9 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor compared to 117.2 when he was off, a suboptimal result in a small sample.

Oladipo’s impact was well-documented throughout this postseason — specifically on the defensive end. Though he notched at least 13 points in six of his 15 playoff performances, including a team-high 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting in Miami’s series-clinching Game 5 against the Hawks and his 23-point outing against the Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

There’s question marks surrounding Tyler Herro’s status entering 2022-23 — whether he gets traded for either Donovan Mitchell or Kevin Durant or receives an extension north of $100 million. But he could enter the starting lineup if he’s on the team come October.

Assuming he is, Oladipo’s presumed role will be coming off the bench as a dynamic sixth-man igniter. We know he will provide the defense — but what are a few ways he can maximize Miami’s offensive output? Let’s explore some avenues:

Generating Rim Pressure:

Over his 23-game stretch — including regular season and playoffs — Oladipo was one of Miami’s best and most frequent players at applying rim pressure.

Over that span, he was third on the team in drives per 100 possessions with 14.6, behind only Jimmy Butler (18.9) and Tyler Herro (16.4). In such scenarios, per’s tracking data, he made 26 of his 55 attempts — a 47.3 percent clip.

Even though it was a smaller sample, however, his 14.6 drives per 100 mark was the third-worst of his career; though, however, over his first eight seasons, he averaged roughly 14.4 drives per 100 possessions, postseason and regular season included.

Here were his numbers off drives:

Victor Oladipo Drives

2013-14 80 716 9.0 4885 14.7 141 317 44.48% 187 0.3
2014-15 72 907 12.6 5028 18.0 165 398 41.46% 438 0.5
2015-16 71 570 8.0 4758 12.0 92 234 39.32% 248 0.4
2016-17 72 450 6.3 4903 9.2 81 224 36.16% 200 0.4
2017-18 82 885 10.8 5619 15.8 208 397 52.39% 525 0.6
2018-19 36 341 9.5 2309 14.8 66 156 42.31% 179 0.5
2019-20 23 200 8.7 1342 14.9 36 85 42.35% 100 0.5
2020-21 33 410 12.4 2238 18.3 91 195 46.67% 230 0.6
2021-22 23 157 6.8 1079 14.6 26 55 47.27% 79 0.5
Data via and

Per, his drive frequency was more prevalent in the smaller regular season sample than in the postseason, though he was still third on the team in drives per 100 in the postseason (14.1).

One of Oladipo’s primary methods of attacking the basket was via transition — or in the examples above, in semi-transition situations.

In a typical 3-on-5 situation, attacking the cup is typically a no-go. But in Oladipo’s situation in the first clip, he’s able to draw John Collins in a one-on-one with Trae Young in the strong corner without any weakside help from Kevin Huerter, who’s defending Max Strus on the other corner.

Oladipo’s speed gets John Collins off-balance. He then uses a silky smooth patented spin move to open up a more feasible angle to convert the layup. He’s still had to finagle his way around Collins, but was able to convert the lay-in.

The second clip features Oladipo attacking Grant Williams in a 3-on-3 semi-transition look. Williams, a 6-foot-7 linebacker forward, appears to also be slightly off-balance as he barrels through the lane. The 6-foot-4 guard absorbed the contact and was able to finish over the out-stretched Williams.

The third clip demonstrated a straight blow by past Bogdan Bogdanovic. Situationally, Oladipo had less than five seconds to work with. But he’s still able to utilize his elite burst and top-end speed to knife through the defense and convert the lay-in.

He took just three dribbles inside half-court; one just inside the 3-point line.

That’s not normal.

Oladipo’s pesky defense could also be an avenue to maximize Miami’s offense. You know what they say: Good defense leads to easy offense.

In last year’s playoffs, he added 2.7 transition points per 100 transition plays, per Cleaning The Glass. That’s not a direct correlation to solely him because there’s four other players on the floor, but his ability to poke the ball loose and get open opportunities on the other end can’t be ignored. It amounts to something.

In his last healthy season before injuring his quad in 2018-19, Oladipo’s presence elevated Indiana’s transition points by 2.8 points per 100 (60th percentile), including 2.0 points off-steals (79th percentile). In 2017-18 — when he led the league in steals — it boosted to 5.4 points per 100 (97th percentile), including nearly three points (2.9; 96th percentile) off steals.

That’s noteworthy now that he’s on one of the slowest-paced teams in the Association — but one that will rack up plenty of steals. With more minutes and comfortability in his new role, the aforementioned 2.7-point boost could be an uptick.

Keep Attacking In-Between Spaces:

A smidge of what made Tyler Herro a 20-point per game scorer a year ago was his ability to attack the second-level of the defense.

Herro was fourth on the team in mid-range frequency — defined as two-point shot attempts outside of ~4 feet — taking 43.7 percent of his shots within that threshold, including 16 percent of his total attempts on long 2s (outside of ~14-feet), per CTG. He converted on roughly 42 percent of those attempts (61st percentile).

Oladipo, meanwhile, placed right behind Herro in long-2 frequency at 12.6 percent (69th percentile), albeit a significantly smaller sample; that rate increased to 14.7 percent in the playoffs and he’s finished in the 59th percentile or better in long-2 frequency every year of his career.

Yes, taking mid-range shots is an antiquated style for scoring points — but Oladipo possesses a good-enough skillset to take advantage.

From his second-to-third year, Herro better excelled at getting to his spots by either rising up over drop defenders, creatively navigating defenders in isolation with an array of dribble moves (primarily the step-back) and also just outlasting handsy opponents.

While opposing bigs and screen defenders began playing more aggressive coverages with Herro, Oladipo isn’t as potent of a shooter and possesses more north-to-south speed to prompt more serene coverages.

Nailing the mid-range was one of his strengths in Indiana:

He wasn’t as successful last year with Miami, but showed flashes of it:

If he’s able to showcase this in 2022-23, it could change the complexion of the Heat offense.

Of course, all this should come with added context. Oladipo’s immediate fit with Butler and Adebayo — two non-shooters — was murky. Depending on where they were stationed on the floor, the open pockets of space inside-the-arc weren’t always there.

But that all changed during the playoffs, when Spoelstra began deploying lineups with one or multiple of Strus, Herro (who was injured for a portion of the playoffs), Lowry, Vincent and P.J. Tucker — opening up the floor. Oladipo, with more on-ball reps within Miami’s floor-spaced bench units, could thrive.

Other Ancillary Developments: Spot-up shooting plus playmaking:

Two necessary developments that he could continue evolving is his catch-and-shoot attempts and his playmaking. Let’s focus on the former first.

North of 25 percent of Oladipo’s shot attempts (53 of 209) in his 23 games last season were catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, though he knocked them down at just a 32.1 percent (17-for-53) clip — down from his 37.5 percent mark (45-for-120) in the 2020-21 regular season and combined 31.7 percent mark in 2019-20, a career-low.

Here were his previous numbers before getting hurt in 2018-19, per

Victor Oladipo C&S 3-point shooting pre-injury

2013-14 80 19.1% 55 162 34.0%
2014-15 72 17.7% 58 175 33.1%
2015-16 71 23.3% 73 206 35.4%
2016-17 72 34.2% 114 320 35.6%
2017-18 82 16.9% 90 230 39.1%
2018-19 36 16.3% 39 96 40.6%
(Regular Season + playoffs) Data via

He’s improved his efficiency nearly every year of his career, but began to rely on it less after 2016-17 before the injury. Again, depending on the personnel and off-ball reps Oladipo has, he might have more catch-and-shoot opportunities arise.

Within this complex Heat offense, Oladipo’s gotten better at re-locating and spacing himself around the arc, finding open areas of space to either hoist it or attack-off the-bounce. That’s only going to continue improving the more he acclimates himself with Butler, Lowry and Herro.

One of Oladipo’s most underrated parts of his game is his playmaking.

In the first two clips above, he was able to leverage his rim pressure by drawing multiple defenders as he attacks the cup. The first was a blow-by past Kevin Love, delivering a well-placed bounce pass to Adebayo for the floater. In the second, Oladipo receives the rock in the pistol action, attacks the lane and flings a one-handed slingshot for a Robinson wide-open 3-point attempt.

Oladipo wasn’t very productive off hand-offs or as a pick-and-roll ballhandler last playoffs, finishing in the 13th percentile and 50th percentile, respectively, per Synergy. The only other time he finished in the 50th percentile or better in both areas was in the 2017-18 regular season, when he placed in the 72nd percentile and 81st percentile, respectively.

Configuring on-court synergy with the other Heat cogs — whether it’s perfectly dissecting Strus’ ghost screens and Adebayo’s dives, shown above — will be important if he’s assuming more offensive initiatives.

This is the first fully healthy offseason Oladipo’s had since he entered the 2018-19 season. Should he be healthy, the improvement will be present.

Fashioning rim pressure, forcefully getting to his spots in the mid-range while developing his playmaking and spot-up shooting will help maximize this Heat offense, which will presumably have plenty of continuity heading into next season.