When the Orlando Magic drafted Victor Oladipo No. 2 overall out of Indiana this past summer, they were expecting to get an electrifying guard to build their team around for the future. Early reports look like that is exactly what they have on their hands.
Oladipo is as athletic and hard-working as they come—a true coach's dream. What we don't know is what position he will play.
It has already become readily apparent that Oladipo will get a boatload of minutes with the Magic right from the get-go. He will have every opportunity to shine even if he is relegated to a bench role all season.
As far as goals are concerned, it would be difficult to envision any Magic fans walking away from this season disappointed with what they saw from their new rookie. However, there are a number of things to watch for that will go a long way towards measuring just how effective he is.
Perhaps the main reason Oladipo saw such a meteoric rise to his draft stock was all the improvements he made with his jumper.
Oladipo's field-goal percentage during his junior year as a Hoosier was a staggering 59.9 percent, which included a 44.1-percent rate from three-point range, more than double his 20.8-percent shooting during his sophomore campaign.
When Oladipo developed a jumper, he went from an athletic prospect to a polished lottery pick. So far, it appears he is not at all shy about letting it rip from long range.
He has very sound form on his shot and must to continue to shoot it with confidence throughout his rookie year. It is important for him to prove that the titanic leaps in his field goal percentage in college were not just a fluke, and that they were testaments to the improvements he made.
A solid jumper will keep defenders up on him and leave them susceptible to dribble penetration. Oladipo has elite slashing ability both with and without the ball, so if he can already put a respectable jumper to good use, it will significantly open up the other aspects of his game.
While he is not exactly a finished product, for Oladipo to display an advanced prowess on his shot at such a young age would be something quite rare from an athletic rookie praised for his defense and hustle. His shot is what will likely be the factor that determines whether he is good or great, and if he does what he is capable of this year, he will be heading much more towards the latter.
This one may be a bit lofty, but it's a legitimate goal as something Oladipo is capable of doing.
Oladipo was a crown jewel amongst a rookie class devoid of much shine and sparkle. He is not stepping into a starting role for a team obviously tanking and ready to hand the keys over to their new rookie. But, one thing he certainly may be is a kid in a very ideal situation.
He will have as much of an opportunity to outscore everyone in his rookie class as anybody. Trey Burke in Utah will have a lot of mouths to feed as their point guard and Michael Carter-Williams is a pass-first point guard with questionable scoring ability. Top pick Anthony Bennett in Cleveland will likely not see a ton of minutes for a good while.
Oladipo has just the right amount of veteran talent and just the right amount of support around him to excel in his current role of sixth man. Right now Orlando is more than all right letting Oladipo have total freedom coming off the bench as he figures out his niche in the NBA.
It would be a slight surprise to see Oladipo lead his rookie class in scoring, but not out of the question. For a player drafted for his defense, this would be a very impressive goal to achieve.
Four assists a game is a somewhat modest yet impressive goal for Victor Oladipo to reach for.
From the onset of Summer League we saw Oladipo take his first crack at point guard, a position believed to be unfamiliar to him. He had mixed results as to be expected, but it was very intriguing to see him being used in that spot at all after the results he had in college at shooting guard.
Orlando appears to be taking a similar approach with Oladipo as they are with other young players such as Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless. Why lock a young player into one position? If they are given the freedom to experiment with their games at a young age they may flourish at a new position and open up doors to their games that were not even believed to exist.
We can't exactly pinpoint how much point guard Oladipo will play this year, but we do know that he will get tons of minutes and will have the ball in his hands an awful lot. Great players make their teammates better, so this is a solid goal for Oladipo to prove that he has what it takes to be a facilitator early on.
Being a dynamic combo guard is fun and all, but Oladipo was drafted to be a great player. No. 2 picks are expected to develop into more than just dynamic sixth men.
General manager Rob Hennigan is throwing the point guard position at Oladipo because he believes he can handle it. Whether or not he can is neither here nor there, but it is important that after this season we have a significant idea one way or the other.
Orlando is not as deep into the rebuilding process as some other franchises. They have some serious young talent here and could very well be one or two pieces away from competing. Because of that, they do not have as much time as other franchises might to let Oladipo figure out what type of basketball player he is.
It doesn't exactly matter either way as long as Oladipo can establish himself at either spot. If he happens to find himself more adept at covering point guards on defense yet playing shooting guard on offense, then so be it.
The point is that what he does on the court will play into the team's decisions moving forward. If Orlando decides to draft another guard at the top of next year's draft (which is very possible), then it would greatly benefit them to know where Oladipo stands, so they can draft accordingly.
Ahh, but of course. What else did you expect as the last goal?
Many said Oladipo was the best rookie in this year's class, and now it will be time for him to verify that. He is stepping into a situation very much prepared to embrace a new, youthful, exuberant talent that will have every opportunity to fill their void.
On top of that, it has to be a safe bet that Arron Afflalo and/or Jameer Nelson get traded before the deadline, right? All they're really doing at this point is maiming Orlando's 2014 draft pick and robbing fans of weekly Oladipo cameos on SportsCenter's Top 10 plays.
Aside from the aforementioned Burke and Carter-Williams, any rookie outside of Bennett, Cody Zeller or possibly Ben McLemore taking home Rookie of the Year honors over Oladipo would be a long shot, to say the least. This award is his to lose and it is time for him to restore order to the No. 2 draft pick club.
In the last 32 years only Kevin Durant, Jason Kidd, Emeka Okafor and Steve Francis have brought home the hardware as second picks in the draft.
Oladipo is the clear-cut favorite and will have every chance to bring home the honors. This is the main goal because if he gets this one, it can be assumed that most, if not all, of the other goals will have taken care of themselves.