Darron Cummings/Associated Press
Speaking to The Athletic’s Michael Lee, Oladipo noted he has embraced the challenge of returning from the ruptured quad tendon that caused him to miss 12 months:
“At the end of the day, I wanted my name to be mentioned with one of the greats. So, when this quad injury happened, my job is not over. My legacy isn’t finished. This knee is a little bump in the road, I guess you would say. But someone once told me a long time ago, ‘If the road you’re on is easy, then you’re on the wrong road.’ So I hate calling it a ‘bump in a road.'”
Oladipo suffered the injury during the second quarter of Indiana’s 110-106 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 23, 2019. He was leading the Pacers in scoring (18.8 points per game) and ranked second in assists (5.2) when his season came to an end.
After having surgery and going through rehab, Oladipo made his return this season on Jan. 29 against the Chicago Bulls. The 28-year-old was rusty out of the gate, averaging 10.8 points and shooting 29.5 percent in his first six games.
The next seven games were much closer to the version of Oladipo that made the All-Star team in 2018 and 2019. He averaged 16.3 points and 4.3 rebounds, while shooting 48.3 percent overall and 40 percent from three-point range during that stretch.
Oladipo scored a season-high 27 points in Indiana’s last game before the hiatus on March 10 against the Boston Celtics. Despite that performance, he told Lee “I’d be lying if I said I was even 80 percent out there.”
When the NBA suspended its season on March 11, the Pacers were sitting in the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 39-26 record.