After what can only be considered a successful comeback down the stretch of last season, Victor Oladipo re-upped with the Miami Heat in hopes of playing a significant role for the club in 2022-23. And while his knee/quad issues prevented him from playing on opening night, the two-time NBA All-Star returned as a rotation regular in December.
He was a big part of the Heat’s goings-on, too, over his first 25 games or so, averaging 11.2 points, 3.9 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 28.4 minutes per outing through January 31. Since then, though, the baller has seen his role dwindle to the point where he’s not playing in every game.
Oladipo confessed recently that the shift caught him off guard.
“I just didn’t know,” Oladipo said of logging his first DNP-CD of the campaign last week against the Memphis Grizzlies, via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “So I was just sitting there and sat there and supported my team. I think after a while I could tell I wasn’t going in. And can’t really control that. Just got to control that moment in time and just doing what you can to help the team.
“At that moment, all I could do was just motivate the guys and continue to talk to them.”
Heat Guard Victor Oladipo Sounds Off on His New Reality
Oladipo is no stranger to changing circumstances in relation to his court time. His injuries have robbed him of large swaths of the last two, three… five seasons. And even when he showed that he still had something to offer as a player last season, he ultimately found himself fighting for opportunities during the regular season’s final days.
So, now — despite the fact that he has suddenly logged two DNP-CDs in three games for head coach Erik Spoelstra — he’s able to keep things in perspective. Rather than wallowing in all his bad luck, Oladipo is making sure that he’s ready to answer the call whenever it comes.
“Just because last year happened the way it did, this year’s a whole different year,” Oladipo said. “You understand. So regardless of what happens or what doesn’t, I just got to continue to keep improving, keep getting better, focus on improving. And if and when my name is called, just be ready to play.”
That’s not to say that Oladipo enjoys not playing; he’s just rolling with the punches and taking solace in the fact that his shot will come eventually.
“Really nothing,” he said of the communication he has had with Spoelstra amid his sudden demotion. “I haven’t really talked about it much. So I just stay ready. That’s really pretty much it… Just got to be ready.”
Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra Is Using All of the Arrows in His Quiver
For his part, Spoelstra has made it clear that anyone and everyone on the roster could be asked to step in as the Heat endeavor to reach postseason play. Unlike last year — when Miami was at or near the top of the standings for much of the campaign — Coach Spo and Co. are pulling out all the stops just to survive.
“Right now, we’re day to day…” Spoelstra said of his current rotation. “It’s by any means necessary. You know, I’ve had to make a couple of tweaks in the last week because we have our full health, basically, other than Cody [Zeller].
“These are good, high-class challenges to have. We need all hands on deck. These games are so competitive. [Haywood] Highsmith is a perfect example, has been able to give us plug minutes for three minutes at a time, that were a little bit unusual, but maybe not on the card. But that’s what we’ve got to do right now to win games.”