"If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." That's a quote from General George S. Patton that described the NBA media's initial opinion on Paul George's trade to Oklahoma City. Nearly every NBA analyst praised Thunder general manager Sam Presti for fleecing the Pacers by only giving up Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis and getting a four-time All-Star in return. In possibly the biggest surprise of the season, Oladipo is outperforming Paul George in nearly every statistical category and the Pacers are 16-12. Oladipo is finally having his breakout season that looks very similar to another player who was traded away from Oklahoma City.


Let's take a look at James Harden and Victor Oladipo's stat lines in their final season with the Thunder.

2016-17 Victor Oladipo: 15.9 ppg / 2.6 apg / 4.3 rpg / 36% 3PT

2011-12 James Harden: 16.8 ppg / 3.7 apg / 4.1 rpg / 39% 3PT

How did they fare in their first season after being traded away from OKC?

2017-18 Victor Oladipo: 24.5 ppg / 4 apg / 5.3 rpg / 42.6% 3PT / Player Efficiency Rating: 22.8 / True Shooting: 58.7%

2012-13 James Harden: 25.9 ppg / 5.8 apg / 4.9 rpg / 36.8% 3PT / Player Efficiency Rating: 23.0 / True Shooting: 60%

Oladipo and Harden were both forced to take secondary roles during their time in Oklahoma City, and Harden even came off the bench for his entire tenure with the Thunder.

They both had to play alongside Russell Westbrook, who needs the ball in his hands a lot and had the highest usage rate in NBA history during his MVP campaign last season.

Harden and Oladipo were both taken in the top three picks of the NBA Draft with the hope that they had superstar potential.

James Harden made his first All-Star team immediately after being traded to Houston, and it looks like Oladipo will be making his first All-Star game appearance this year.

We've seen a trend of players flourishing after moving out of Russell Westbrook's shadow, and Oladipo and Harden may be the two most glaring examples.


Comparing Harden and Oladipo's final seasons with the Thunder, Harden was a better player in many different offensive categories. He had a better PER, true shooting percentage, and effective field goal percentage than Oladipo.

Harden was also two years younger than Oladipo when he was shipped out of Oklahoma City, and Oladipo only spent one season with the Thunder compared to three seasons for Harden.

While Harden was the better offensive player, Oladipo has been a far better defender during his career and currently is the third-ranked shooting guard in defensive real plus-minus while Harden ranks 27th among point guards.

It may be a bit of a leap to proclaim Victor Oladipo as a future MVP candidate based on the first 28 games of his breakout season, but Harden's emergence after his trade from Oklahoma City provides a precedent to predict Oladipo becoming one of the league's best players.