Victor Oladipo is the very definition of a late bloomer. Walking into his junior season at Indiana, he was most wistfully viewed as that scrappy defender who could help Cody Zeller push the Hoosiers toward a national championship.
He was a sidekick to Zeller's college basketball domination.
Now that same sidekick is the second pick in the 2013 NBA draft. The Orlando Magic selected the 6'4" guard on Thursday night, two selections before his collegiate teammate went to the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Magic's Twitter feed shared the selection:
As a junior, Oladipo developed far beyond anyone's wildest expectations. He scored 13.6 points per game on 59.9 percent shooting, all while continuing his development as a stalwart defender on the outside.
After declaring for the draft, he was considered a likely back-half lottery selection—and again defied those expectations. Oladipo slowly but surely went creeping up draft boards, eventually being deemed the best overall player in the draft by many pundits—yours truly included.
There are, like every other player in this draft, questions about how he'll translate to the NBA. With that in mind, let's take a complete look at how Victor Oladipo will fare with the Magic during his career.
How Oladipo Will Fit on Magic
When projecting out this draft, one of the main reasons I pegged Ben McLemore over Oladipo for the Magic was fit. While Oladipo was the top player on my board throughout this process, it felt like McLemore's skill set was more in tune with what Orlando needed.
Specifically, Oladipo's lack of shooting prowess felt like it should be a concern for the Magic. They already have two young wings on the team in Tobias Harris and Moe Harkless, both of whom need a great deal of work on their jumper. Harris especially emerged for Orlando down the stretch last season as a defensive stopper on the wings, a guy who brought athleticism, youth and unalienable potential to the floor every night.
The presence of Harris and Harkless is concerning for that reason. If there is anything we've learned over these past few years in the NBA, it's that spacing trumps all—especially in the postseason. A team that doesn't have wings whom necessitate respect by defenses beyond the three-point line see their offensive production crater in value, as opposing squads can crash the paint and muck up timing.
It will be interesting to see, then, how the Magic choose to deploy Oladipo next season. He's made massive strides as a jump-shooter but is still a work in progress. Lineups that include Oladipo and Harris/Harkless could really struggle to find spacing as a result.
From a talent perspective, though, there is no better player in this draft. The Magic took a guy who could not only become an All-Defensive Team selection but one who works so hard it's very likely he'll find the peak of his offensive production.
What that is, however, remains to be seen. That said, Oladipo fills a need at the 2, and there could be moves in the works that could solve those spacing concerns.
As previously mentioned, Oladipo is a bit of a work in progress on the offensive end. For his first two seasons at Indiana, he was mostly a nonentity on half of the floor. He struggled to create off the dribble, and his overall three-point shooting was below the 30 percent mark. For as little as he handled the ball, Oladipo also had a bit of a problem coughing it up and saw his minutes fluctuate as a result.
Last season, though, Oladipo began showing the signs of promise scouts had desperately hoped for. Attacking the basket with a ferocity that few others in college basketball displayed, Oladipo emerged as one of the best finishers in the country. He shot a shade under 60 percent for the season, showing off an innate understanding of exactly how he could most efficiently help his team.
All of that is good for Oladipo's instant translation to the NBA. Oladipo's understanding of his strengths and deficiencies is a trait few collegiate players possess, one that speaks to his intelligence as a basketball player.
His jumper remains a concern. While it's easy to point to his 44.1 percent rate from beyond the arc and laud him for an improvement, Oladipo still only shot 1.9 attempts per game. That speaks somewhat to his legendary work ethic for getting better, but that's still a low rate for an NBA 2-guard.
How Oladipo develops as a jump-shooter may ultimately define his legacy. Should he even become a league-average guy from beyond the arc—shooting something like 35-37 percent—then Oladipo could be lethal at the next level.
Oladipo's work ethic makes it hard to bet against him. A renowned gym rat during his time at Indiana, Oladipo is one of those players who consistently works to extract every ounce of his potential.
What that potential is will be the difference between a superstar and a defensive stopper, though.
The one area of Oladipo's game that won't need any work is on the defensive end. He was one of the two or three best perimeter defenders in all of college basketball last season, a 94-foot menace brought to this earth to make shooting guards and small forwards cower in his presence.
While there were a few questions about his size and ability to handle 2-guards at the NBA level before the draft process, Oladipo shut those up quickly at the combine. He measured in as a shade over 6'4" in shoes, which was a massive relief to scouts who were worried Oladipo was more in the tweener range.
Being 6'4" is still a little on the small side, but Oladipo makes up for it in spades with his athleticism and lateral quickness. The former Indiana star measured in with a 42-inch maximum vertical leap, and his 10.69-second time in the lane agility drill was fantastic. What's more, Oladipo measured with a wingspan of more than 6'9", which should also help make up for the one or two inches he's lacking.
Defense is about more than just quickness and agility, though. The buzzword you often hear in regard to these players is "motor." That essentially boils down to "effort." And there may be no player in this entire draft who matches Oladipo's motor. A relentless worker on the floor, Oladipo would guard a team's best player anywhere from positions 1 through 3, and worked hard in the paint when switched against a big man.
There is little question that most of what Oladipo did at Indiana, he can replicate with Orlando. The athletes will be better and his effect likely a bit smaller, but Oladipo has gotten the Tony Allen comparison for a reason. Widely recognized as one of the best—if not the best—defender in the league, Allen's combination of effort and athleticism gives anyone from Chris Paul to LeBron James fits.
Assuming he reaches his potential, Oladipo will be an evolutionary Allen on the defensive end.
Peak Averages: 17.5 PPG, 49.4 FG%, 34.5 3PT%, 71 FT%, 6.6 RPG, 2.1 APG, 2.2 SPG, 1.1 BPG
NBA Player Comparison: Andre Iguodala
It's really tough to come up with a comparison for Oladipo because his game is so unique. There are individual components of his game that remind me of Allen, some that even garner some Dwyane Wade comparisons.
It's comfortable locking into either as his ultimate destiny. Allen never developed his jumper, and he's a complete minus at the offensive end for the Grizzlies nine years into his NBA career. Oladipo has shown such a work ethic that it's hard to see him failing to develop into less than a league-average scorer.
Wade, meanwhile, was a far more polished offensive player and rim attacker coming out of Marquette. He was remembered as a late bloomer, but Wade never averaged fewer than 17.8 points per game in college—more than four points a night higher than Oladipo's peak. We've been quick to shovel dirt on Wade's grave these past few weeks, but he's one of the greatest shooting guards of all-time for a reason, folks.
The truth here is somewhere in the middle. Iguodala handles the ball more than Oladipo ever will, but he represents a strong middle ground point in terms of scoring and defensive presence. If Orlando winds up with an Iguodala-type difference maker with the second pick in this draft, it will be more than happy to go into the future.
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