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his left shoulder while - 2018/10/09 10:45 Victor Oladipo feels right at home in Indiana.

Here Pernell McPhee Jersey , he evolved from a high-flying, college acrobat for the Hoosiers into a legitimate NBA draft prospect. Here, he won over the hearts and minds of a basketball-crazed state. And here, he finally got a chance to tap into his full potential.

Now, five years after being taken No. 2 overall in the draft, the multi-talented guard has returned to his adopted home state, revived a rebuilding Pacers franchise and heads into the playoffs as the favorite to be the league’s Most Improved Player.

”To come out and get 48 wins after everything that happened is a great accomplishment,” Oladipo said after sitting out Tuesday’s 119-93 loss to Charlotte with a sore right foot. ”But there’s a lot more to accomplish and a lot more goals we want to accomplish starting this weekend.”

The only surprise bigger than the Pacers’ remarkable resurgence this season might be Oladipo’s transformation from a potential future star into an NBA All-Star.

Orlando saw the possibilities when it drafted the junior back in 2013 but wound up trading him to Oklahoma City in July 2016. With the Thunder, Oladipo served a one-year apprenticeship with eventual MVP Russell Westbrook – a year Oladipo credits with helping him emerge as the budding star he has become.

But when the Thunder got a chance to pair Westbrook with four-time All-Star Paul George of Indiana, they put Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis on the trading block. Things could not have worked out better for the players – or the Pacers.

Oladipo and Sabonis each played key roles in helping the Pacers shed the preseason projection of NBA lottery team, and Oladipo has finally found a place where he can be himself.

”I know it kind of came out of nowhere (for fans), especially after the trade. People were kind of down on Vic last year for some odd reason Youth Cordy Glenn Jersey ,” said Kevin Durant, the Golden State star who grew up in the same Maryland county as Oladipo. ”To see the trade and how people viewed that trade, and then he just turned it up throughout the season. For me, I thought it was expected of him. I’m very excited for Vic and happy for him and I know he’s going to keep getting better as a player.”

Returning to Indiana certainly helped. Hoosiers fans revered Oladipo because of how he played the game. They embraced the passion and heart he showed on the court, the effort he made on defense and believed he spoke a language any true basketball fan respects. Time hasn’t changed that part of Oladipo’s game.

”He is himself every day, and then he’s just very positive all the time,” Myles Turner said. ”Even when things aren’t going well, he’s still talking, still getting guys involved, still hyping everybody else up.”

After spending four years looking for the right fit, Oladipo found it in Indy:

His scoring total increased by nearly 30 percent over his previous career best and 45 percent over last season. His averages of 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 are all career highs. His average of 2.36 steals is the highest single season average of anyone in the NBA since 2013-14 and his 77 steals were 18 ahead of George Authentic B.J. Hill Jersey , who is second, heading into the final night of the regular season.

Even opposing coaches and players acknowledge Oladipo’s breakout season should make the fifth Indiana player to earn the most improved award since 2000.

”Oh, definitely,” Lance Stephenson said, almost scoffing at the question. ”In my eyes, he’s the MVP. He’s played terrific.”

Oladipo knows there’s still plenty more to do and his blazing speed and charismatic charm make the possibilities seem endless for the 25-year-old.

The next chapter begins in the playoffs. In his previous four seasons, Oladipo has won only one postseason game and he doesn’t want this season’s magical ride to end before he can celebrate winning his first playoff series with his teammates.

And the message he sent Tuesday night resounded throughout the state.

”We’re going to go in there and win,” he said. ”We’re not going to go in there and try to win. We’re going to go in there and win.”




RICHMOND, Va. (AP) Chris Thompson goes out for a pass route with his right leg on his mind.

Eight months since breaking his right fibula, Thompson still thinks about it when running and making sudden moves. Now two days into his first taste of team drills at training camp, the Washington Redskins‘ 2017 offensive MVP is attempting to get over the mental hurdle of rehabbing from surgery and getting back to normal.

”I’m still nervous about just making cuts,” he said. ”I’m nervous about Youth Cassius Marsh Jersey , `What happens if this guy falls and hits my ankle?’ I know it’s healed. I know the plate is there so I don’t have to worry about it breaking. But it’s a big mental game.”

Thompson became Washington’s secret weapon on offense with 39 catches for 510 yards receiving and four touchdowns to go along with 64 carries for 294 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground. It’s no coincidence the Redskins’ playoff hopes effectively ended when Thompson went down in New Orleans in November.

Doctors put a plate and five screws in Thompson’s leg, and he considered the ensuing rehab more difficult than after previous surgeries to repair knee injuries. They told him he wouldn’t be 100 percent until a full year had passed, so it’s on Thompson to manage the pain, his own expectations and his progression along with the team’s training staff.

It’s easier said than done.

”I talk to the trainers the whole time, especially before practice just to ask them, `What am I doing today?”’ Thompson said. ”Because I know me: If I’m feeling good, I’ll continue to just go. They’re just letting me know what I’m doing every step of the way. I’m just kind of leaving it in their hands and just … kind of being smart about it because I know this is still a journey.”

The goal of the journey is being ready for the beginning of the regular season. Coach Jay Gruden on Wednesday said he was confident Thompson would be ready for the opener Sept. 9 at Arizona.

”The way he runs, he looks faster right now,” Gruden said. ”His burst looks like it’s 100 percent back. Only he knows how he feels as far as being 100 percent. … But he looks great right now.”

Gruden left open the possibility of limiting Thompson’s workload early in the season because the 27-year-old running back knows he’s not yet close to being back to himself. The sustained speed isn’t there, but teammates are glad to get a glimpse of Thompson working his way back.

”Chris Thompson’s a key asset to our offense,” linebacker Preston Smith said. ”He brings a lot of different tools to the offense. He can be used in multiple ways. And seeing him out there practicing is a great thing for Chris because I love him, his spirit. He’s a great teammate http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/brian-quick-jersey , a great guy and I always want to see him on the field.”

There are several steps left in Thompson’s progression, including no limitations in practice and then possibly some action in preseason games. The next milestone is getting hit by an opponent and seeing how he reacts.

”I am not looking forward to it, but I know I’ve got to do it,” Thompson said. ”I know I’m going to be super nervous about it, but once I get that first hit, whether it’s in preseason or the first game or whatever they plan on doing – once I get hit one time, I know I’m going to be good after that.”

NOTES: WR Josh Doctson left practice after landing hard on his left shoulder while trying to make a diving catch. A spokesman said Doctson was being evaluated for a shoulder injury and that the team would have an update Thursday. In a since-deleted tweet on his verified account, Doctson said he’s ”just fine silly rabbit.” In another tweet, he said, ”(hash)imgood.” … WR Paul Richardson went down in individual drills but returned minutes later and made several catches. … S DeAngelo Hall announced his retirement at a formal news conference after playing 14 NFL seasons for the Atlanta Falcons, Redskins and Oakland Raiders.



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