Heat Star’s Status Update: ‘The Scary Thing’ About Victor Oladipo’s Return

Victor Oladipo

@vicoladipo/IG Miami Heat guard Victor Oladipo is expected to return to action on March 7.

Nearly a year has passed since Miami Heat guard Victor Oladipo played in an NBA game, but his return appears to finally have arrived. On March 6, the Heat officially upgraded Oladipo’s status to “questionable,” meaning he’ll likely make his 2022 debut on Monday night when Miami takes on his former team, the Houston Rockets.

“Never has a ‘questionable’ player been so certain of playing,” the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman tweeted on March 6.

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Oladipo, 29, joined the Heat on March 25, 2021, in a trade that sent Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and a 2022 draft pick to the Rockets. He appeared in only four games with the Heat last season before going down with a non-contact injury on April 8. He underwent surgery on his right quadriceps tendon in May and re-signed with the Heat on a veteran’s minimum contract in August.

So, what do Oladipo’s teammates think about his return?

“He looks great,” forward Caleb Martin said in a Sun Sentinel story published March 6. “He’s going to add a huge boost to us. Adding a player of his caliber to our team is always going to be a positive. He’s too good. He’s going to find his way. We’re all going to adjust to him and figure out how we look with him in it. … He can’t do anything but make us a lot better. That’s the scary thing about it.”

Forward Jimmy Butler added: “He looks great. He’s been working for a long time, countless amounts of hours in rehab in the gym, in the weight room. And I’m excited for him to get back.”

Spoelstra Says Oladipo ‘Has Kept His Positive Spirit’

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said Oladipo’s strength and spirit shone through over the past year.

“It shows you he has great fortitude,” Spoelstra said in a Miami Herald column published March 6. “That — probably, when you talk about mental health — that is the most challenging thing for an athlete. You don’t always feel like you’re a part of it. You have doubts. You don’t know what it’s going to look like on the other side, when you get healthy. You’re not sure if all the work is mattering.

“That’s a tough place for an athlete. I’ve admired how Vic has kept his positive spirit. I love that quality about him. He always has a smile on his face.”

Where Does Oladipo Fit in the Lineup?

The Heat (43-22) currently sit in first place in the Eastern Conference. So where Oladipo fits on a team that’s firing on all cylinders is unclear. It likely will depend on how he plays after his debut.

Winderman offered the following assessment:

Oladipo’s role could come down to the numbers game with a bench that has kept the Heat afloat under often dire situations this season. Tyler Herro and Dewayne Dedmon (because of the need of a second big man) are the seeming locks at the top of the reserve rotation. There does not appear to be a path to a starting role unless Spoelstra is willing to sacrifice the spacing provided by Duncan Robinson.

So Oladipo over Gabe Vincent is a possibility, but that could come down to showing an ability play alongside Herro, who possesses a similar skill set as Oladipo. Even then, Herro figures to stand as the dominant ballhandler of the two.

Over 33 games for Indiana, Houston, and the Heat last season, Oladipo averaged 19.8 points per game while shooting 40.8% from the field and 32.6% from beyond the arc.

As of March 6, only three players had been ruled out for Monday night’s matchup: Kyle Lowry (personal reasons), Javonte Smart (G League) and Markieff Morris, the latter of whom hasn’t played since getting injured in an altercation with the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic on November 8.

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