Indiana Basketball: Ranking the 5 Best NBA Fits for Victor Oladipo
Thursday night should be a special one for former Indiana basketball star Victor Oladipo. The All-American is projected to be a lottery pick and could hear his name called very early in the NBA draft.
The dynamic shooting guard can do it all. He is a lockdown defender (2013 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and 2013 NABC Co-Defensive Player of the Year), can score at the rim and away from the basket and isn't shy about crashing the glass (career 5.17 RPG).
The team that lands him is going to be ecstatic.
The question is, where is the best place for Oladipo?
Obviously he would be a great fit on an elite team, but it's not realistic he will be drafted outside of the lottery. This slideshow will take into consideration the teams picking in the beginning of the draft and rank the best places for Oladipo to land.
The rankings were based on how early he can see significant playing time, supporting players around him and the team's chances to make the playoffs.
5. Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns have the No. 5 pick and would love to add Victor Oladipo to their roster. He would play right away and bolster a defense that needs help.
Right now, the Suns have a clear hole at shooting guard. Wesley Johnson, Shannon Brown and Jared Dudley are all options, but they lack the explosiveness and energy of Oladipo. He would easily be the Suns' best option, so he would play right away.
The Suns' defense needs work. He is the wing defender Phoenix desperately wants. It was 26th in the league in points allowed (101.6 PPG) and 24th in defensive efficiency. Oladipo's defensive attitude would make an impact in the desert.
Phoenix isn't a bad destination because it does have some solid pieces in place. Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola are dependable in the post. Point guard Goran Dragic is no slouch, either (7.4 APG). If younger players like Markieff and Marcus Morris improve, the Suns will have a quality bench.
Are the playoffs in the Suns' near future? Probably not. They are in a tough division featuring three playoff teams from last season (Clippers, Warriors and Lakers). This is the main reason why they end up fifth on the list.
Despite this, they have a decent core, and Oladipo would be able to showcase his talents right away in Phoenix.
4. Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings are loaded with talent but short on discipline. Victor Oladipo is the type of player who can turn the tide.
Unlike most teams drafting near the top, the Kings don't have any problems on offense. They scored 100.2 points per game, good for 10th in the league. Their issues are on the other side of the ball.
The Kings were atrocious on defense last season. They gave up more points than any other NBA team (105.1 PPG). Oladipo's presence would shore up their defense.
Defense is all about effort and attitude. To be successful, players have to commit to playing tough and relish the opportunity to lock down opponents. This is exactly how Oladipo plays.
He fits well in Sacramento because of the guards the Kings frequently face. In their division alone, they have to contain the Clippers' Chris Paul, Golden State's Stephen Curry and the Lakers' Kobe Bryant. These players present an enormous challenge, but Oladipo wouldn't back down.
He could be the player who finally gets this team over the hump. The potential for this team is through the roof. Tyreke Evans has shown he can play. Point guard Isaiah Thomas is coming off of a great season (13.9 PPG, 4.0 APG). When DeMarcus Cousins is in the right frame of mind, he dominates the post (17.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG).
Evans has played point guard, shooting guard and small forward. The inconsistency needs to be fixed to make him more comfortable. With Oladipo there, Evans could move permanently to small forward and let Oladipo be the shooting guard. A core consisting of Oladipo, Evans, Cousins and Thomas is formidable.
Oladipo would solidify this team. They still need a lot of work to make the playoffs, but a Kings team with the lineup described above could make some noise sooner rather than later.
3. Washington Wizards
Victor Oladipo would mesh nicely with Washington because he could help an ineffective offense.
The Wizards have offensive talent in guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, but the team ranked last in offensive efficiency last season. They struggled to find scoring outside of their two stud guards, averaging a measly 93.2 points per game.
While Oladipo is known more for his defense, his offensive capabilities should not be ignored. He is a very efficient scorer. Last season for IU, he shot just under 60 percent from the floor and 44 percent from the three-point line. A guard doesn't shoot that well unless he is efficient and has great shot selection.
He fits the Wizards because of his ability to score at the rim. He would be a great complement to Wall, who can score from any spot on the court, and Beal, who is a solid jump shooter. Beal will space the floor, opening up the lane for Wall and Oladipo. On the flip side, when defenses collapse to stop them in the paint, they can find Beal for open outside shots.
An added bonus for Oladipo: Playing for the Wizards would bring the Maryland native close to home. Because the Wizards are in his backyard and have a bright future, they would be a suitable destination for him.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
It's very unrealistic to think the Cavaliers will use the No. 1 pick on Victor Oladipo, but he would be a perfect fit if it happened.
The Cavs are another team on the rise. Point guard Kyrie Irving is an emerging superstar. Not only can he score (22.5 PPG), but he can also get his teammates involved (5.9 APG).
Oladipo is an excellent slasher. He frequently catches defenders off guard and is open close to the rim. Irving is great at getting in the lane, drawing double-teams. Who better to find a wide-open Oladipo cutting to the basket than Irving?
Once again, Oladipo fits because of his defense. The Cavs already have a solid interior defense with Anderson Varejao patrolling the middle. Oladipo would shore up the outside.
The one concern would be what becomes of current shooting guard Dion Waiters.
Having Oladipo on the roster shouldn't end up being a problem. The Cavs could either move Waiters to small forward to make room for Oladipo or make Waiters the sixth man. He is purely a scorer. Why not put him in a position where he can thrive as a scorer off the bench?
The biggest reason why Cleveland is high on this list is because of its playoff potential. Irving is going to continue to improve. Varejao can still play effectively. Waiters is a reliable scorer. The only thing missing is the high energy and defense of Oladipo.
The Eastern Conference is weak at the bottom. A Cavs roster with Oladipo on it spells playoffs early and often.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves
It's highly unlikely that Victor Oladipo falls to No. 9, but both parties should hope it happens. Not only would he play right away, but out of teams near the top of the draft, Minnesota is also the most complete. They represent the best chance for Oladipo to become a postseason regular.
Minnesota already has a solid core group of players. Kevin Love is a force to be reckoned with (18.3 PPG, 14.0 RPG). Nikola Pekovic has become a dependable post player. Point guard Ricky Rubio has become a dangerous threat as well (7.3 APG). Even the bench is reliable, featuring Derrick Williams and J.J. Barea.
One thing Minnesota is missing is a pure athlete. Oladipo has a nonstop motor. His athletic gifts bring a whole new dynamic to the lineup. With Oladipo as their shooting guard, the Timberwolves are as dangerous from the outside as they are inside.
Minnesota suddenly becomes a dangerous team in the Western Conference. If they could stay healthy, making the postseason consistently would be in reach.