NBA Injury Report: Victor Oladipo Nearing Return To Pacers Active Roster
Victor Oladipo – Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers are set to receive a massive reinforcement as star shooting guard Victor Oladipo is nearing his return from a season-ending right knee injury he suffered back in January. Shams Charania of The Athletic recently reported that the Pacers have decided to assign ‘Dipo to their G-League affiliate squad so that the 27-year old two-way star can put in more reps on the court and improve his conditioning.
As per a tweet from Charania:
“The Pacers have assigned All-Star guard Victor Oladipo to G League affiliate Fort Wayne as Oladipo continues to make good progress from knee injury, per league sources. Allows Oladipo to get practice run today. No return timetable.”
The Pacers medical staff did not give any exact timetable for Oladipo’s return, but many expect him to miss just the first two months of the season. The former Indiana Hoosier has garnered All-Star nods in the previous two seasons, although he missed playing in the All-Star game last February due to his injury. Defense has always been his trump card, but Oladipo’s incredible work ethic has helped him greatly improve the other facets of his game. His playmaking reached a career-high last year (5.2 assists), while showing everyone that he can be the primary scorer of a contending team like the Pacers.
However, Pacers head coach Nate McMillan isn’t all hyped up about this development. McMillan says that Oladipo is yet to practice a full court scrimmage on a regular basis, per Matthew Glenesk and Nathan Brown of the Indianapolis Star.
“With our G League team coming up and practicing here, we saw an opportunity to give him a chance to go full court. I don’t think this will be something he continues to do, the full court. I think he’s still in the half court now playing 5-on-5, but we haven’t been able to practice a lot in the last week or so because we’re limited with the players that we have.
(Oladipo) hasn’t been able to get in a lot of work with those off-days and us having to manage the group that we have.”
Despite missing the excellent services of Oladipo on both ends of the floor, the depleted Pacers are holding the fort. They are sporting a 7-6 record despite starting center Myles Turner and scoring swingman Jeremy Lamb missing several games due to injuries. Recently-acquired young point guard Malcolm Brogdon has been a revelation for the Pacers this year. Brogdon is averaging 19.2 points and 8.2 assists per contest, and it’s really exciting to see how well he could form a working partnership with Oladipo.
It’s just right for Oladipo to be patient in this recovery process. We have seen a lot of players rush their recovery, only for their injuries to be re-aggravated. ‘Dipo says that he has to be smart in his rehab even though he is itching to get back out there, as per the NBA.com.
"I wish I could. I'll know when I know. It's hard to gauge how far you are from that.
You've got to be smart. I'm not trying to play (just) for this year, I'm trying to play for a long time in my career. I want to have a long, lasting, hopefully 15-more-years career. As bad as I want to play, I still have to be smart about it.”
Still, the injury-plagued Pacers really need Oladipo right now. While Turner has made his return from an ankle injury, Brogdon is in the inactive list due to back pains. Lamb is still questionable to play, along with back-up point guard T.J. McConnell. With these injuries to their guards, brothers Aaron and Justin Holiday should see an upward spike on their playing time.
Khris Middleton – Milwaukee Bucks
All-Star sweet-shooting swingman Khris Middleton has suffered a left thigh contusion that will sideline him for three to four weeks. The 6-foot-8 gunner sustained the injury during a win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It is a disappointing setback for him and an even bigger hurdle to overcome for the Bucks. Middleton is posting 18.5 points per contest, including an excellent 39% clip from three-point territory and an overall 47% clip from the field.
While this is not a serious injury for Middleton, it’s still a big loss for the championship-contending Bucks. They already lost Malcolm Brogdon to free agency last summer and missing the scoring that Middleton provides will leave quite a hole on their offense. But the positive takeaway from this situation is that it will give their other role players the opportunity to step up and shine. Milwaukee still has a bevy of good perimeter players they can rely on. From young guns Sterling Brown and Donte DiVincenzo to more experienced veterans Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer has plenty of options to choose from.
DiVincenzo, a sophomore shooting guard out of Villanova, was selected to fill in for Middleton’s vacated starting slot. Budenholzer expressed positivity in the situation, saying that it’s great for his young player to have this experience, per Ben Steele of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"There are lots of different directions we can go. But I'm just excited to give Donte a chance and put him out there with that group, let him play with a lot of veterans.
There are a lot of guys that have played together and won games and it's a good group for him to mix in with."
The Bucks are currently with a 9-3 record, good for 3rd place in the Eastern Conference. Giannis Antetokounmpo is making his case for a back-to-back MVP trophy as he is averaging 30.1 points, 14.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists, all of which are career-high numbers for him.
De’Aaron Fox – Sacramento Kings
Young budding point guard De’Aaron Fox has been diagnosed with a Grade 3 sprain on his ankle, forcing the Kings star to miss games for three to four weeks. It’s a huge blow for Fox, who has found his rhythm and momentum as of late. After a disappointing start to the year that saw the Kings begin their season with a 0-5 record, Fox has come alive for his squad. The speedy point guard notched 25 and 24 points in the Kings’ first two wins, and followed it up with a double-double performance in a four-point loss at the hands of the Toronto Raptors.
The fact that he injured his ankle during team practice makes it even worse. Of course, these things happen but it’s still unfortunate for him and the team. Moreover, his ankle sprain is of the Grade-3 level, something that orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mark Drakos says is the most severe sprain, as per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee.
“Grade 1 is a partial tear of one or both ligaments. Grade 2 is a complete tear of one and a partial tear of the other. A grade-3 sprain is the worst of the sprains. That means there was a tear of two of the ligaments on the outside of the ankle, so it’s a significant injury in terms of contributing to the overall stability of the ankle.”
Drakos would even say that Grade-3 ankle sprains take four to six weeks to fully heal. That means that Fox could be sideline for 13-20 games depending on the pace of his recovery process. Fox will be added to the team’s injury list that already includes the skilled sophomore combo big man Marvin Bagley. Bagley is still nursing a thumb injury that will keep him out for the next couple of weeks.
In Fox’s absence, Kings head coach Luke Walton will rely on point guards Cory Joseph and Yogi Ferrell to steady the ship for the squad. They have shown quite a progress in the previous games, improving their record to 5-7 and climbing to the 9th spot in the Western Conference.