As the 2021 trade deadline passed by, the Heat pretty much labeled Victor Oladipo as the potential X-factor down the stretch of the season. The Heat made that move to put them over the top heading into the post-season, but that experiment only lasted 4 games before he went down with injury.
Consequently, he had a similar label this past year with his return date looming late in the season. The potential X-factor to put this Heat team over the top before their late run. He had some ups and downs, but ultimately came up big in his 8 regular season games and 15 playoff games.
But now we find ourselves in round 3, and could he still be that X-factor piece once again?
I believe even moreso.
In terms of on-court fit, it wasn’t the cleanest the entire playoff run. A bit of taking turns from lineups including Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler, while the Herro-Dipo bench insertion took some time getting used to.
When the three-point shot was falling, which wasn’t too often in the post-season for the entire Heat squad, it changed the dynamic of their half-court offense. We know what he can do as an attacker, and the isolation/shot creation flashes is what makes me think so highly of this re-signing.
But it isn’t just about his own skill and development, it’s about his role with the team that’s around him. And yet, that got me thinking, depending on every scenario out there for this Heat off-season, he plays a valuable role in each.
First off, when eyeing the big fish Kevin Durant, who is currently number one on the Miami Heat’s agenda, there are certainly many different packages being thrown around. A Tyler Herro headliner would be a tough sell for a player of that caliber, but if you throw the farm in a trial run to keep Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo intact with Durant coming in, that wouldn’t leave much else left on the roster.
At that point, it’s pretty much the least of your worries, but it would also hypothetically mean Victor Oladipo is still on the squad as the team’s 4th best player. He’d play the starting two-guard next to that big 3, in a pretty ideal role with much more versatility on the offensive end.
Since Oladipo can’t be traded until halfway through this upcoming season, many of these big off-season trades mean they still have that weapon locked into their current plan.
Moving onto the second bullet point on the Heat’s checklist, there lies Donovan Mitchell. Reports currently flying around that the Jazz are now fielding some offers for the young guard, while it’s well known that Mitchell would like to play in Miami if he were to leave Utah.
So, a deal would most likely look something like Herro, Robinson, young assets, and a whole lot of picks. As Herro would be on his way out, it’s important to note that Oladipo was on the sideline closely monitoring Herro’s 6th man of the year season, which parallels perfectly with the Dipo conversation.
“Hey Vic, we now want you to fully play the Herro role.” With Mitchell slotting into the starting lineup at that point, it would give Dipo the full reigns of the bench unit to run things the young crew of Vincent, Strus, Martin, etc. (Side note: I know many would be worried about starting back-court defense with Mitchell, but man that’s some defense off the bench.)
Flowing into the last option, it’s actually pretty similar to the Mitchell stuff. Let’s just say the other trade names don’t materialize and stay put for now, we now turn to internal developments.
In my eyes, Tyler Herro is the starting shooting guard of the Heat if he’s still on the team by training camp, but that’s not to say Victor Oladipo won’t put up a fight for that spot. Yes, the contract Miami gave him was his best option, but there’s an idea that he will be able to compete for big time roles such as a starting position.
Once again, I do believe it would go to Herro in that scenario, meaning Dipo can consequently have the 6th man reigns of full offensive control, which is solid in theory.
Scanning the Miami Heat’s current roster, one thing sticks out majorly: the team’s guard room is crowded. Too crowded.
Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Victor Oladipo, and potential summer league guys at the bottom of the roster like Marcus Garrett or Jamaree Bouyea on a two-way.
You may be saying, “Well it’s the same guard room as last year,” but that was only the case late in the season. To begin the year, Oladipo wasn’t healthy, Vincent and Strus types weren’t fully trusted, and Robinson was the comfortable starter.
Things change, and I expect things to change yet again. Just speculating, but that list of guards is a clear signal to me that something is coming in some capacity.
And whatever that may be, Oladipo will have a clear-cut role instead of the jumbled up confusion from this past season. Dipo will be meeting with Coach Spo after Summer League to talk about things like this, and that might just make all the difference in whatever direction the team elects to go.
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