Defense is harder in the NBA. For Oladipo to do well at it, he needs top coaching and drilling, and he needs to be part of a fast-switching, effective defensive scheme. One-on-one defense doesn’t work in the NBA.
Right now the only teams that execute a fast-switching positionless defense superbly well are Golden State and San Antonio. Everyone else trails them.
The Pacers *could* do that. But it means a lot of emphasis on defense first, and most teams are too impatient to bother with it. It’s difficult to do well, and offense is sexier; most franchises put their emphasis there.
So I don’t look for Oladipo’s NBA defensive metrics to jump up suddenly. The best I can hope for is that the Pacers will use him to his strengths and not force him out of his comfort zone, as OKC did.
But I do think Oladipo has untapped defensive value. It’s just that it’s going to take a franchise-wide effort, and a successful one, to unlock it. I don’t see the Pacers doing that, but I’d be delighted to be wrong.