After a sprained MCL sidelined him for much of training camp and the preseason, Victor Oladipo was poised to return for the Orlando Magic's final preseason game against the Dallas Mavericks. However, an inadvertent elbow in practice broke a bone in Oladipo's face, causing him to miss even more time. Some estimated he would be out for up to a month, but, just three weeks after suffering the injury, Oladipo is poised to make his return to the lineup.
On Thursday, the Magic had listed Oladipo as out for Friday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks. During the team's shootaround on Friday morning, however, coach Jacque Vaughn indicated that the team had upgraded Oladipo to questionable, meaning there's roughly a 50-50 chance he could suit up against the Bucks. Vaughn said that the second-year guard participated fully in a recent practice and that the team's doctors had cleared him to play.
Oladipo said that his face has cleared up a little bit, and that he is "back to his pretty self." He also said that it's been a long six weeks, and that every step of the way was a blessing. "I'm just glad I'm out here with these guys participating," said Oladipo.
The electrifying guard said that over the past few days he's improved the most mentally. "Putting different things into perspective, watching from afar, appreciation for the game, it's just crazy. It's at its utmost for me. You don't really appreciate something as much as you do until it's taken away from you. You know, I just have a love for the game and I know that now. As much as I'm eager to get out there, you know I couldn't. I was learning from far away and I learned a lot and hopefully soon I'll get to apply it to the game."
Oladipo also said that he doesn't think it will take long for him to adjust when he's back out there as competitive nature will take over. Once he is able to return, Oladipo will be wearing a protective mask, and isn't worried about contact because the mask is "bulletproof."
Tobias Harris said that, if Oladipo is able to play Friday, his presence will benefit the Magic.
"He's had some tough breaks with injuries, but I know he's excited and if he does get to play tonight I think it'll be great for us," said Harris. Harris also said that Oladipo has looked good and in shape when the team has been able to practice, which hasn't been often due to their heavy road schedule early in the season.
Oladipo's return could be monumental for the Magic. While Evan Fournier has filled the starting two-guard role more than admirably in Oladipo's place, the level of intensity Oladipo brings on both ends is hard to replicate. Pairing Oladipo with rookie Elfrid Payton would also give the Magic one of the better defensive backcourts in the league, something that could come in handy tonight against a Bucks team whose guards have been playing extremely well to begin the season. With the team playing the third of game of four-in-five stretch, Oladipo's energy could be huge, and allow the team to be slightly fresher for their road game against the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.