One of the most surprising developments of the 2013 NBA Summer League has been the position change of Orlando Magic rookie Victor Oladipo. For those unfamiliar, the Naismith award finalist is attempting to move from shooting guard to point guard.
That position change makes Oladipo the Summer League's player to watch.
Oladipo was selected No. 2 overall by the Magic, thus honoring his status as one of the best all-around players in the draft. Praised for his elite defensive upside, Oladipo is now being thrown into the fire and forced to perform in a manner he never has before.
According to Michael Wallace of ESPN, it's not hyperbole—we're talking ever.
When was the last time you played this much point guard?
"Never," Oladipo responded Monday after his second summer league game in as many days as the Orlando Magic's full-time converted point guard.
Not even in high school at any point?
"No," he fired back. "I was a [power forward] at times in high school, but never at the point."
What about back in little league or rec leagues growing up?
"Nope," said Oladipo, owing a huge debt of gratitude to those listing him at 6-foot-4 in the media guide. "Never."
We repeat, Oladipo has never played point guard.
Even still, the former Indiana star has taken it upon himself to learn the nuances of the position and tackle any challenge that's thrown is way. Whether that be a change of position or a new defensive assignment, there's one thing that's becoming perfectly clear.
Oladipo loves a challenge.
Oladipo Is Up for the Task
Entering the 2013 NBA draft, Victor Oladipo had been anonymously named the top prospect on NBA general manager's secret Big Board. It wasn't due to his status as the draft's premier athlete or because he's the top perimeter defender available.
It was all about his motor and character.
That's been on full display at the Orlando Summer League, as Oladipo has embraced his move to point guard. While some would request a move back to their original position, Oladipo has stepped up and led Orlando as if he'd done it before.
Per Wallace's previously alluded to report, a major reason for his success is that Oladipo isn't viewing this as a temporary move.
"I'm a point guard, and I've got to play like one," Oladipo said, convincing himself of his role as much as the reporters surrounding him. "I've got to lead my team. I've got to make sure we get the right possession, the right play, get to the right spots. It's my responsibility to do that."
I'm still looking for a reason to dislike Oladipo.
Whether or not the Magic will move forward with him as their point guard of the future is unclear. What is certain, however, is that he's taking on any and every responsibility that he's tasked with as Orlando builds their future roster.
In turn, the NBA community has already embraced Oladipo as one of their own.
High Praise at Orlando Summer League
Oftentimes, a rookie enters the professional ranks and experiences a learning curve that limits the positive feedback from peers and fans. In Victor Oladipo's case, however, there are more than a handful of NBA personalities singing his praises.
As Wallace's reports, one of those players just so happens to be Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson.
"I just like his attitude," [Reggie] Jackson said of Oladipo. "The kid, he's going to be a good player in this league. He works hard. He's a freak athlete. He's just a hungry kid. You can talk to him and see that right away. You just have to be put in the right situation. I don't ever really see him just being done being hungry. That's the best part about their draft pick. He wants to be better. He wants to be good."
Oladipo wants to improve so badly that he's willing to play out of position.
Oladipo isn't the first player to attempt this transition, as current point guards Stephen Curry, George Hill and Russell Westbrook all served as scorers in college. Each faced questions entering the NBA, but now own deep postseason runs on their resume as point guards.
Who's to say Oladipo can't achieve the same?
While playing for the Indiana Hoosiers, the perimeter star played in a system that impeded the development of players becoming college stars. While head coach Tom Crean facilitates NBA readiness by preaching fundamentals and hard-nosed play, ball movement is a great way to stunt statistical growth.
Oladipo has shown that he's more than just numbers during Summer League play
"Vic was aggressive -- he looked fantastic at the point," said Magic assistant coach James Borrego, who is running the summer league team. "He didn't shoot it great but got us into sets, was aggressive to the rim, got us settled. I tried to put him in pick-and-roll a lot. He saw the rim, saw there was opportunities to attack. We put him in a few sets that opened up the court for him, and he exploited those. That's the growth for him. When he sees that, he's got to go."
Again, there are growing pains—it just so happens that Oladipo is already turning heads with his NBA-ready game.
How Is He Faring?
There were highs and lows during Victor Oladipo's time at the Orlando Summer League, displaying his limitless upside and learning curve all at once. From surprisingly dominant scoring outputs to concerning turnover totals, we saw it all.
In the end, we learned that Oladipo truly is a special player.
Oladipo finished his time at the Orlando Summer League with averages of 19.0 points, 5.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 4.8 turnovers per game. While the latter number may be concerning, it's also a product of the style of Summer League play.
When you've never played point guard and are constantly pushing the pace, turnovers are bound to come.
Offensively, Oladipo turned heads with his ability to facilitate and the progression he's made as a scorer. While his shot wasn't falling consistently early on, he shot 53.8 percent on three-point field goals.
To cap it all off, Oladipo hit the game-winning jump shot against the Philadelphia 76ers.
There are deficiencies to improve upon and decisions to make, as Orlando may play him at shooting guard, after all. With that being said, many have compared Oladipo to Dwyane Wade, who played as a combo guard before LeBron James arrived.
Thus far, Oladipo has displayed the upside of a player capable of making the same transition that D-Wade and Russell Westbrook managed. While it may not be a seamless change, the role of a facilitator is one Oladipo appears comfortable with.
With all of these factored weighed and understood, Oladipo is the one to watch in Summer League action.
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