When the Orlando Magic drafted Victor Oladipo, they acquired a combo guard who excelled in college because of his intense athleticism and defensive prowess. Of course that description could have been applied to another player coming out of college 10 years ago, the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade. Last week, we took a look at Oladipo’s rookie numbers and compared them to Russell Westbrook to evaluate Oladipo’s transition to the point guard position. It’s an easy comparison to make since both played off-ball in college, and Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan worked for Oklahoma City when Westbrook was drafted. But Westbrook isn’t the only comparable player. Some people forget, but when the Miami Heat drafted Wade, they also experimented with him as their point guard during his rookie season. If Westbrook is the ideal outcome for Oladipo’s development at point guard, then Dwayne Wade is the best case scenario if the Magic decide to move Oladipo back to shooting guard. Let’s take a look at how their rookie years stack up.
While Victor Oladipo’s points per 36 minutes (15.4) look close to Wade’s (16.8), shooting percentages show how far Orlando’s rookie has to go before he becomes a productive offensive player. Wade connected on 46.5% of his field goal attempts during his rookie season, compared to 40.7% for Oladipo. Oladipo has also struggled from beyond the arc, connecting on only 29.1% of his three point attempts. But Dwyane Wade is proof that you don’t need a three point shot to be a star in the NBA. With his 110 three point attempts, Oladipo has already attempted more three’s than Wade did in any of his first six seasons. And what is Wade’s career three point percentage? 29.1%. Wade has thrived without a reliable three point shot because of his elite finishing skills, something Oladipo hasn’t developed yet.
The one area of Oladipo’s game that positively matches Wade’s is his ability to get to the free throw line. By drawing fouls and shooting 4.9 free throws per 36 minutes, Oladipo is finding easy points when his jump shot isn’t falling. Wade has made a career of getting to the line, a trend that started when he shot 5.3 free throws per 36 minutes during his rookie season.
For a point guard, creating opportunities for your teammates is just as important as hitting your own shots. Just like in scoring, Oladipo has fallen behind Wade’s rookie pace, but the gap is much closer. Both players got their share of assists per 36 minutes(4.7 for Wade versus 4.2 for Oladipo), but struggled taking care of the ball. Wade averaged 3.3 turnovers, while Oladipo has committed an even worse 3.7. If a 2:1 assists to turnover ratio is considered ideal for a point guard, each rookie fell well short of that benchmark.
The good news for Magic fans? Wade greatly improved his play-making ability during his second season. He increased his assist rate to 6.3 per 36 minutes while keeping his turnovers relatively stable at 3.9. While never a true point guard, Dwayne Wade became a more than capable creator for a championship winning team and with more reps, it’s not hard to envision Oladipo growing into that role.
Here is where the comparison becomes impossible to ignore. While Dwyane Wade averaged 1.5 steals and .6 blocks per 36 minutes, Victor Oladipo has matched him with 1.5 steals .7 blocks. Wade committed slightly less fouls (2.4 versus 2.8), but Oladipo has been the better defensive rebounder. His 4.3 per 36 minutes dwarf Wade’s 2.7. At 6’4″ both players use their superior athleticism and strength to terrorize opposing teams.
Victor Oladipo has the potential to follow in Dwyane Wade’s footsteps. Yearly all-star appearances, MVP votes, and multiple NBA championships are his ceiling, but none of that is guaranteed. Dwayne Wade shifted from point guard to shooting guard as his career progressed because his scoring ability was much more advanced than his creation skills. Oladipo’s best position may also be shooting guard, but unless he becomes a more efficient scorer, he will never become an elite player no matter what position he plays.
What do you think? Does Victor Oladipo have the potential to reach Dwayne Wade’s level? Let us know in the comments section below!