While the Orlando Magic don't figure to be appointment viewing this season as a team, their fans can look forward to an exciting season from rookie Victor Oladipo.
The second overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, Oladipo is on the short list of Rookie of the Year contenders—B/R's Jonathan Wasserman makes a compelling argument for him as the front-runner—but he faced a stern test in the season opener against the Indiana Pacers.
Oladipo started out confidently on defense, his active hands netting him an early steal. His first-quarter offense was a bit of a mixed bag, with a made three, a bricked three, two assists, a palming violation and a dubious blocked shot on the fast break coming at the hands of Paul George.
Overall, the second unit thrived with Oladipo in the backcourt, cutting the Pacers lead down to three by the time he hit the bench.
Oladipo showed off the total package toward the end of the third quarter. He notched a steal and had a chance for a highlight-reel dunk on the fast break, but the give-and-go between himself and Jameer Nelson was not quite in midseason form.
Oladipo recovered quickly from the missed layup, however, and got himself to the free-throw line for a pair. On the next Pacers possession, E'Twaun Moore stole the ball and Oladipo leaked out for a monster breakaway jam.
The Pacers tightened their interior defense down the stretch, but Oladipo did not let that deter him. He continued to be aggressive throughout the fourth, getting to the rim and drawing fouls.
Though the Pacers held on for a 10-point victory, both Oladipo and the Magic held their own against a tough opponent. Here are the grades for Oladipo's performance.
Victor Oladipo came into this game with a reputation as being something of a basketball Swiss Army knife, a player who can do a little bit of everything. He backed that up Tuesday night.
In terms of ball-handling, Oladipo was called twice for carrying the ball—a rare occurrence in any NBA game. Word on the street is that the officials are looking to crack down on carrying, so Oladipo needs to make an immediate adjustment.
Defensive Presence/Effectiveness: B
The Magic defense kept this game closer than most predicted, and Oladipo was a big reason why. Besides his one steal, Oladipo poked away several balls to disrupt the Indiana offense.
Oladipo looked as strong in the fourth as he did in the first. If anything, he was perhaps too aggressive towards the end of the game, driving into the teeth of the Indiana defense and getting three of his shots blocked.
Oladipo finished with 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting, three rebounds, two assists, one steal and three turnovers in 23 minutes. He clearly made some adjustments at halftime, choosing to attack the basket more in the second half.
He needs to learn when to stay away from elite NBA shot-blockers, but he should have plenty of chances to improve that facet of his game against the NBA's lesser defenses.