After transforming his game and expanding his offense, Victor Oladipo has emerged as one of the more coveted NBA prospects in the country.
He's taken gradual progress to a new level. Playing virtually the same number of minutes he did as a sophomore, Oladipo has raised his scoring average from 10.8 to 13.6 and his three-point mark from 20.8 percent to 44.1 percent.
No longer strictly just an energy guy, Oladipo's improved jumper and expanded off-the-dribble game has made him a legitimate threat with the ball in his hands.
Oladipo is a pure off-guard at 6'5'' with textbook athleticism for the position. He's quick, speedy and super explosive in the open floor, with springs seemingly integrated into the bottom of his sneakers.
He's incredibly coordinated, an attribute that often goes overlooked when analyzing athletes. Maybe the best example of this comes from one of Oladipo's misses. It's rare that a failed dunk can be used as an example to highlight a strength, but Oladipo is a rare breed of athlete.
Watch how Oladipo skies in the air, catches an off-target pass with one hand and nearly cocks it back and throws it down:
One of Oladipo's most attractive qualities is his motor, something everyone has but can't always activate. Oladipo's doesn't have an off switch. His activity level is off the charts. Rarely does a loose ball land in someone's hands without getting tipped or touched by Oladipo first.
Defensively, he's relentless. Oladipo stays consistently low in his stance and shadows his assignment whether he has the ball or not.
You won't find a better on-ball defender at the college level. Oladipo's lateral quickness is off the charts, and with substantial length and endless energy, he's able to wrap up his assignment like a Snuggie.
The play I've set up below illustrates his lateral quickness, or ability to move side to side and keep his man in front of him:
This kid invented hustle. There isn't anything out of reach with Oladipo, who goes 100 percent on every possession on both sides of the ball. He's the type of athlete who would run out a basic ground ball to the second baseman like a tiger was chasing him to first.
Check out Oladipo run down this play as a defensive trailer and swat a shot he had no business blocking:
Not the most adept shot-creator, Oladipo generates most of his offense from drives to the hoop.
He's tightened his handle to the point where it's a strength, which has opened up a whole new world of offense for him.
No longer strictly just a north-south attacker, Oladipo's ability to change directions off the dribble has made him nearly impossible to keep from penetrating. One of his most replayed moves of the year came against Michigan, when he changed directions, hit the gap and exploded toward the rim:
Here's another example of Oladipo's improved ball-handling skills that allow him to change direction at full speed and blow past his defender on the perimeter:
Oladipo's ability to finish at the rack is one of the reasons why his field-goal percentage is through the roof. Oladipo fears nothing when attacking the rim and has the athleticism to elude defenders in the air.
Not every elite athlete is explosive, as there's a difference between the two. Oladipo's explosiveness allows him to finish above the rim and convert in traffic with ease.
Instead of having to adjust mid-air or take a difficult floater or layup, Oladipo's upward explosiveness leads to a slam over a helpless defender:
As a slasher, Oladipo has a good feel for when to cut and what route to take. Without the ball in his hands, Oladipo moves with purpose. When the time is right, he's able to catch, gather and finish on the move, and does so with speed and balance.
Oladipo never had much of a jump shot, which is why his 44.1 percent mark from downtown is so eye-opening. He nearly made a three-pointer a game, understanding his limitations and only attempting open opportunities.
This is going to be huge for him moving forward, as NBA defenders will have to respect the jumper, which leads to better spacing and more driving lanes.
Despite all the offensive adjustments, Oladipo still doesn't project as a scorer at the next level. He'll put points on the boards, but he'll do so finishing off others' creativity.
Creating shots for himself in the half court isn't a strength. He's capable of finding and attacking driving lanes, but you won't see many step-back jumpers or isolation buckets for Oladipo.
He'll need to continue refining his jumper, both in spot-up situations as well as off the dribble. If he can pull up in space, Oladipo will increase his half-court scoring opportunities.
Draft Breakdown and NBA Outlook
While some have made Dwyane Wade comparisons, Oladipo doesn't project as an isolation scorer. Creating and separating in the mid-range is not his forte.
However, Oladipo has the chance to become an elite off-ball contributor. Slashing, driving, finishing and defending are his primary strengths—ones that every lineup could use to complement its ball-dominating scorers.
Oladipo is one of the most likable players in this draft because of the certainty he offers as a prospect. He's a lock to contribute in an NBA rotation, and that can go a long way in a draft like this.
If Orlando doesn't find any trade partners and or isn't thrilled with Trey Burke or Ben McLemore, don't be surprised to see Oladipo go No. 2. Expect a number of teams looking to move up to get him, with the likelihood he won't make it past Phoenix at No. 5.