Victor Oladipo is looking great already this summer, and his fellow rookies have praised his defense and also chosen him as the most likely to win the Rookie of the Year award along with C.J. McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers. Both received a 24 percent share of the rookies’ votes. Oladipo was also chosen as the second most athletic rookie (16.7 percent) behind Tony Mitchell of the Detroit Pistons who took an astounding 47.2 percent of the votes for the most athletic.
Oladipo’s athleticism is only part of what will make him a successful player in the NBA. His anticipatory skills are what could render him an All-NBA first team defender, and he already showcased those skills this summer when he jacked Kevin Durant and rode the other direction for a tomahawk dunk (SEE VIDEO).
The Magic had other directions they could have gone with the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, but it made sense to grab the best talent available given that the team is in the earliest stages of a complete overhaul.
Oladipo”s talent may be slightly redundant with Maurice Harkless on the roster, but in an era whose champion has been the perimeter-led Miami Heat, the notion of having two great perimeter defenders may not be any redundancy at all, nor even a luxury, but a necessity. Harkless showed the ability to switch on to any perimeter players playing the 1-3 positions, and Oladipo will offer that same flexibility.
The tandem should be able to seamlessly shift between playing shooting guard and small forward, while the Magic patiently wait for a point guard to fill out the picture. The 2014 draft features two premier franchise-altering swingment in Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins, though, so if the Magic land a top-2 pick next season, the plan may be more muddled with three premier swingmen.
Rob Hennigan knew that a top-2 pick was no assurance, so he took the best talent available rather than trade down in a draft with no clear standouts to be grabbed at any juncture. Oladipo, so far, has not disappointed, and taking the best player available usually works out pretty well in the NBA.