Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo Playing Like a Rookie

Orlando Magic rookie Victor Oladipo has had some problems offensively, but there seems to be some inclination by fans that Oladipo will not be able to become a great player simply because he is struggling like most rookies do when they enter the NBA.

Every rookie hits a wall over the course of an NBA season that he must overcome. For some rookies, the struggles take form in the beginning of the season where many rookies struggle with the speed of the game compared to college. Other rookies seem to hit the proverbial wall around half-way through the season due to the physical toll that an 82-game season tends to dish out. When it comes to Oladipo’s game, his struggles appear to be with the former, with turnovers and finishing at the basket being particular issues for the rookie.

Oladipo is averaging 4.5 turnovers per game, which is terrible, albeit in a limited sample size. To put those numbers in perspective, Houston Rockets guard James Harden led the NBA in turnovers last season averaging 3.8 turnovers per game.

The problem right now for Oladipo is his pace when it comes to the NBA game. Oladipo is a player that plays with boundless energy whenever he is on the court. His energy is crucial on the defensive end, but on offense, Oladipo tends to over dribble  putting himself in poor positions causing the offense to sputter. He also tries to make passes  through narrow windows that close much quicker at the NBA level. Once Oladipo becomes accustomed to the speed of the NBA game his decision making should improve. Whether Oladipo can effectively become a starting point guard is a question that cannot be answered only 11 games into the season.

The 6’4″ guard is  an athletic freak. However, he has struggled finishing at the rim against taller players and has been unable to draw fouls. This ability to draw fouls is an art that can only be developed over time.

Another problem for the Magic in the early going is setting illegal screens. Part of the problem falls on the big men, but some of the blame falls on Oladipo. When one of the Magic player’s comes to set a screen, too often, Oladipo will move towards the screen before the player setting the screen is stationary. Oladipo needs to slow down and wait for the screen to be set and then move. At that point, not only is the screen legal, but it also gives Oladipo an extra second to survey the court, breakdown where the defense is set up and establish where his teammates are on the court.

Despite the struggles, there are plenty of positives to Oladipo’s offensive game.  His jump shot is not the broken form that some scouts feared when Oladipo was drafted. He is shooting 37.8 percent from the 3-point range. At Indiana, Oladipo shot 44 percent from long-range. The 37 percent shooting from beyond the arc is respectable considering the increased distance of the NBA 3-point line.

For a young player, Oladipo does do a good job of trying to pass the ball to teammates when he drives to the basket. He just needs to identify the passing lanes better and work on getting into the Magic’s offense sooner.

It cannot be stressed enough that Oladipo is a rookie. He will go through his stretches of bad games, but with his ridiculous athleticism,  there should be little question about Oladipo challenging for The Rookie of The Year award at the end of the season.




Tags: Orlando Magic Victor Oladipo

  • Osceola71

    I am getting less and less enamored of the Oklahoma style of rebuild that Hennigan seems to think is the “Magic” formula for rebuilding. Just because Westbrook was able to transition to point guard doesn’t mean you can take any athletic guard and switch his position. Oladipo right now is playing like a 12 year old who thinks he has to win every game by himself. Honestly, most of his numbers come at the end of games when the outcome is pretty much decided. he obviously does not have the court vision that a point guard requires.

    Also, I am seriously concerned with the culture of losing that Orlando seems to be creating. Some of the games they have lost this year have been winnable IF THE COACH HAD MADE BETTER ROTATION SELECTIONS. Why is Nicholson always sat down when he gets a hot hand and starts putting up points? His defense and rebounding are way better than last year, so you can’t use that as a reason. Is it because he might give us a chance of winning? It seems strange to me that his minutes have been cut here recently, just as they were last year when he had good games. The same for E’twan Moore. Last year he was an adequate back up at both guard positions, averaging close to 10 pts a game with good three point shooting. He had several good times this year, and now he’s almost invisible. Why?

    And we seem again this year to have players out with “lingering” injuries who might make the difference between winning and losing games. Although I don’t believe is pushing players on the court if they are injured, it seems like some of these injuries are taking a very long time to heal. Again, could it be because we want to make sure we are losing instead of competing? At least Otis tried to keep a playoff caliber team on the court, even if he overpayed for the players.

    Here’s how I’d do it if I was focused on winning:
    1st team

    Vuc – center
    Davis/Maxiel – power forward
    Harris – small forward
    Afflalo – shooting guard
    Nelson – point guard

    2nd team
    O’quinn – center
    Nicholson – power forward
    Harkless – small forward
    Oladipo – shooting guard
    Moore/Lamb – point guard

    Price and Jones could play spot minutes when needed. I would keep Afflalo and showcase Davis when he returns to try and increase his trade value. I think Davis and one our stockpiled picks could get us a point guard; I wouldn’t mind Wroten from Philly. He supposedly was on our radar last year and has been playing pretty good this year behind Carter-Williams. I would bring Oladipo on over two seasons instead of throwing him in there to drown.