Oladipo Showing Off his Playmaking Ability

On February 5th the Pacers announced that Darren Collison would undergo arthroscopic knee surgery. At the time it was announced that Collison would miss two to three weeks. Unfortunately, it has been over a month now, and Collison still hasn't returned to action. With him out of the lineup, it has left a significant void in the playmaking department. He leads the Pacers in all the major passing categories and typically initiate the offense. 

Category Per Game Average Team Rank
Passes Made 51 1
Assists  5.3 1
Potential Assists 10.1 1
Ast % 24.3 1

In Collison absence, Oladipo has taken most of the playmaking responsibilities. Before this season Oladipo has shown to be a capable playmaker during with his previous teams, Orlando and OKC. Tallying five or more assists in 91 games out of 291 (31%). So far this season, Oladipo is averaging a career-high 4.3 assists per game and is currently ranked in the top 79 percentile in pick and rolls plays that include passes (1.01 PPP) per Synergy.

Out of the 11 games that Collison has missed, Dipo has played in ten (missed one game due to an injury). In those ten games, Oladipo has seen an uptick in his usage and other passing stats.

Category Before Collison Injury After Collison Injury
USG % 30.0 32.9
Passes Made (per game) 37.6 41.7
Assist (per game) 4.1 5.4
Potential Assist (per game) 8.4 10.6
Ast % 19.2 29
Ast to Pass % 10.8 12.9

As you can see from the table above, Oladipo has adapted himself pretty well to his new role as the primary playmaker. He's averaging more passes per game, and as a result, he's averaging more assists per game. Pretty simple right? The most important (and most telling) stat increase is his assist percentage. Despite only averaging four more passes per game, Oladipo assist percentage has gone up ten percentage points (19% to 29%). In other words, Oladipo has assisted on 29 percent of his teammates made field goals while on the floor. Meaning that Oladipo's passes are having a more profound effect and that he's doing a better job of creating scoring opportunities for his teammates. The two players that have benefited the most from Oladipo's increased playmaking duties are Myles Turner and Thaddeus Young. Turner and Young are shooting a combined 47 percent off of Oladipo's passes and are responsible for 53 percent of Oladipo's assists during this stretch (28 out of 53). The clips below illustrates the chemistry has with both players.

Oladipo’s and Turner’s chemistry is on display in this clip. Turner sets a screen for Oladipo near half court. The Celtics then attempt to ICE Oladipo and trap him along the baseline. Recognizing the ICE, Oladipo picks up his dribble before getting to close to the baseline and delivers the pass to Turner on time before the help defense could arrive. Turner then proceeds to knock down the mid-range jumper while getting fouled in the process. 

In this clip, Oladipo’s basketball IQ is put on display. Oladipo receives a pass from Cory Joseph on the perimeter. Recognizing the mismatch, Young flashes to the strong side. Instead of taking his man straight on, Oladipo recognized that Young has the smaller Allen Crabbe on him and riffles a pass to Young before the shot blocking Jarrett Allen can come over and help. Leading to an easy dunk for Young.

During these ten games, the Pacers have gone 7-3 and have moved up the Eastern Conference standings. But should we be surprised with the team’s success with Oladipo as their playmaker? According to advanced metrics, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. When Oladipo plays point guard, the Pacers have one of the best offensive ratings in the entire league. Per Cleaning Glass, when Oladipo is at the point guard position, the Pacers boast a 113.3 offensive rating which would rank third in the league behind the Warriors and Rockets.

Collison’s injury has allowed Nate McMillan to experiment with different lineups and new roles for players. During this process, McMillan discovered another effective way to utilize Oladipo. Expect to the Pacers to continue to use Oladipo in a playmaker role even with the imminent return of Collison.

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