The Orlando Magic drafted Victor Oladipo in June because they believed he was the best player available, regardless of position. A shooting guard in college, Oladipo would have been stuck playing behind the stellar Arron Afflalo at the 2, so the Magic have been experimenting with Oladipo at the point. The results of that experiment have been mixed. Oladipo has shown flashes of enormous potential, but his decision making has been shaking at times and his play-making ability is average at best. It’s fair to wonder how much better Oladipo would be in his natural position. But a closer look at the stats should give the Magic hope.
GM Rob Hennigan is taking a page out of his old team’s playbook with Oladipo’s development. The Oklahoma City Thunder drafted Russell Westbrook after he played off-ball at UCLA, hoping that his intense athleticism and lock-down defense could overcome any play-making deficiencies. Victor Oladipo shares those qualities, and at 6’4″ and 214 lbs, he has the same strong build that is a little short for a 2 guard, but terrorizing for opposing point guards. And the similarities don’t end there. Comparing both players’ rookie stats per 36 minutes reveals familiar profiles.[table “3” not found /]
Now Westbrook is a great player, and the comparison is flattering, but the similarities are not all good. Westbrook was a very inefficient player during his rookie season, and even now, the advanced stats don’t love him. Because of his turnovers and poor shot selection, the numbers suggest Westbrook isn’t the superstar most people think he is. He’s still a great player, but it is telling that the Thunder don’t drop off much when he is off the court. It remains to be seen if Oladipo’s own poor decisions are rookie mistakes, or a sign that his potential at the point is limited.
So should the Magic continue to play Oladipo at point guard? Yes, at least for this season. The skills he learns running the offense will help him no matter what position he plays. Beyond this year, the future depends on the 2014 draft. If the Magic land a top 3 pick, they won’t be picking a point guard. The college freshman are too good. But any lower, and Marcus Smart and Dante Exum come into play. Exum is an especially intriguing option. He is a combo guard like Oladipo, and his 6’6″ size would help make up for Oladipo’s deficiencies.
What do you think of the the Victor Oladipo point guard experiment? Let us know in the comments below!