Victor Oladipo's Summer League Exposure Will Improve Orlando Magic's Versatility
Oladipo is playing for the Magic's summer league squad and is certainly not being eased into things. A report by Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today indicates that Oladipo has been running the show at point guard—even though he's never really played there before.
Putting in that work now will go a long way in enhancing the creativity and variety of lineups Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn can conjure up in 2013-14.
What position will Victor Oladipo be most successful in as a rookie?
At 6'4" and 215 pounds, the imposing and strong presence, athleticism and relentless tenacity Oladipo brings to the table already affords Vaughn the flexibility to play the promising first-year player at the 2 or the 3.
If he can improve his ball-handling skills well enough to play point guard, opponents will have a difficult time accounting for Oladipo, even as a rookie.
The great news about Vaughn is that he is a former point guard in the Association and can help bring Oladipo along and acclimate him to the position in a more expeditious manner. Vaughn had also served as an assistant on the San Antonio Spurs since 2010 before taking the job in Orlando.
It was a rocky maiden campaign for Vaughn, who inherited a rather depleted team and struggled to a 20-62 record, but it also resulted in GM Rob Hennigan receiving the opportunity to acquire Oladipo.
Hennigan is in his early 30s, and Vaughn is only 38 himself but has tangible league experience that should command respect from Oladipo and foster his continual development.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of his future is that his ceiling has yet to really be determined. The jump he made between his sophomore and junior years in Bloomington was staggering, particularly with regard to his offense.
After sporting a suspect shot prior to this past year, Oladipo worked tirelessly and shot nearly 60 percent from the floor and well over 40 percent from three-point land.
The big knock on him is his lack of dribbling skills and his tendency to get a bit out of control at times and turn the ball over.
In his initial summer league contest, he turned it over six times, but he cut that number in half against the Oklahoma City Thunder and flashed the ability to get to the rim effectively, shooting 10 free throws, per Zillgitt.
Oladipo provided his own analysis afterward:
The point guard at this level is challenging because you don't want (the defense) to speed you up. You've still got to run all the plays. You have to pick your times when to be aggressive and when not to be aggressive. I did some good things today, and I did some bad things today.
As long as Oladipo keeps making strides to the point where he can competently play point guard, the Magic will have the chance to play a big lineup with a lockdown perimeter defender in Oladipo up top.
Having Arron Afflalo and Oladipo in the backcourt would be ideal. Rounding out that rotation with Tobias Harris, Moe Harkless, Andrew Nicholson and center Nikola Vucevic is intriguingly big on paper for the future.
In order for the Magic to improve defensively from allowing 101 points per game last season, it's essential that Oladipo is on the floor as much as possible. Especially considering how filled the league is with athletic point guards at the moment, Oladipo could become far more of an asset to Orlando.
This summer league experience is invaluable as Oladipo tries to fulfill the vision the Magic have for him. It should lead to a more productive inaugural NBA season for him and help Orlando improve substantially in Vaughn's second year.
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