After playing one position his entire life and attempting to learn a new one in the NBA, it is to be expected that there would be a significant amount of growing pains for Orlando Magic No. 2 pick Victor Oladipo.
As if the weight of being such a high pick wasn't enough on the superbly athletic rookie, learning how to play point guard is just the icing on the cake.
He has had his fair share of highlights and flashes of brilliance, (none bigger than his swipe of Deron Williams followed by a 360 dunk), but through the early part of the season many of his weaknesses have already been exposed.
Oladipo has been compared here and there to a number of guys. This was especially true leading up to the draft. For the most part he looks to be a rare talent who could turn into a unique and special type of player, unlike anything we have seen in recent years.
In order to maximize his potential, there are a handful of guys whom Oladipo could emulate that will help speed up his development.
Victor Oladipo and Dwyane Wade will have many head-to-head matchups over the next handful of seasons with Orlando being just a quick trip up I-95 from AmericanAirlines Arena.
The two have ties dating back a few years; both played college ball under Tom Crean. What better player for Oladipo to get advice from than a friend and future Hall-of-Famer who just so happens to be a guy to whom he has been compared?
As reported by Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, the two spent time together on Indiana's Bloomington campus while the Heat were in the midst of their playoff series with the Indiana Pacers. Wade allowed Oladipo to sit in on film-study sessions.
"Ever since then, we've just been kind of close," Oladipo said. "It's going to be pretty cool to play against him. I'm just looking forward to it."
The two are fierce defenders and each has the ability to handle both guard spots for extended periods of time. The areas where studying Wade can benefit Oladipo the most are in efficiency and turnovers.
The lowest field-goal percentage Wade has ever posted was the 46.5 mark of his rookie season. He has made a career out of attacking the rim while still showing off his outside shot when the defense gives it to him. His bread and butter remains slashing.
Oladipo at age 21 already has a good enough handle to break guys down off the dribble and get to the rack, but he settles for jumpers too much already. He is at his best when he is collapsing the defense and making things happen for both himself and his teammates.
As far as turnovers, Wade racked them up at a young age as well. He averaged as many as 4.4 per game at one point. However, in recent years he became better at taking care of the basketball.
Oladipo is currently averaging 4.0 turnovers to just 3.3 assists. He has been eating into Jameer Nelson's point guard minutes because he is obviously the future of this team, but those sort of numbers are not going to cut it.
In a recent game against Dallas, he coughed it up nine times in just 28 minutes. The Mavericks trapped him and pressured him all night and took him out of his game. He needs to take a page out of Wade's approach and either slow things down by moving the ball around earlier or working his way into the post.
Allen and Oladipo are roughly the same size, but they are in no way similar as basketball players.
Regardless of whether Oladipo will be playing shooting guard or point guard, Allen's defensive tenacity for 48 minutes is exactly what Oladipo needs to emulate. Allen does not care whom he is covering on a nightly basis. He just gets it done.
The steals are already coming for Oladipo, but he truly has the potential to be a lockdown perimeter defender. He projects to be a player who will stand people up on the low block, stifle dribble penetration and be a weak-side help defender who can alter shots. He is going to be much more than a guy who jumps passing lanes or occasionally rips the ball from his man on his way to a jaw-dropping dunk.
I bring up Allen strictly as a defensive player. Oladipo should far surpass what Allen brings to the table offensively, but what will make the Magic rookie great is the impact he can have on the other end. His hustle and work ethic likely will be up to par, but his overall defensive prowess could use some fine-tuning.
Being somewhat of a tweener is what Oladipo is going to have to learn to use to his advantage. Allen is great because he is strong enough to overpower smaller guards while also being long and quick enough to prevent dribble drives and easy outside shots.
In a recent game versus the Boston, Orlando got lit up by two of Celtic guards. Avery Bradley nailed 10 of his 15 shot attempts for 24 points, while Jordan Crawford scored 16 and posted ten assists and no turnovers.
Oladipo spent much of the night covering one of the two, and he had little answer for either of them. It is going to take time, but he will have to learn to handle both of these kinds of players. Bradley was able to get to the rim at will, and an aggressive, offensive-minded Crawford was able to put pressure on the Magic defense.
Once Oladipo gets the hang of it, there won't be very many nights like the one he had against the Celtics. Oladipo will eventually become less tentative and, much like Tony Allen, he will become the aggressor on defense.
If Oladipo is going to fully transition to point guard, the man he should be watching is Russell Westbrook.
The two played similar roles in college: athletic 2-guards. Westbrook already went through a lot of what Oladipo is going through now, except he wasn't eased into the point guard role at all. Instead, Westbrook was thrown right into the fire and asked to direct Oklahoma City's offense.
Westbrook and Oladipo have a tendency to be a bit overzealous on both ends of the floor, but Westbrook has improved over the years because he has learned to properly channel his energy. He has learned how to make his teammates better without compromising his own offense. He has also turned into a disruptive overall defender instead of someone who sags off his man to go for steals.
Westbrook is the type of all-around crazy athletic point guard Oladipo can become as he gets more comfortable with the position. Westbrook had to develop the confidence to take and make big shots alongside Kevin Durant. He became a star while also elevating his team's overall play.
Many aspects of Oladipo's will improve as the rookie gains some experience. His biggest adjustment in transitioning from college to the pros is having to take on much more ball-handling responsibility. At Indiana, he was basically a small forward with two other ball-handlers in the backcourt helping him out. His usage rate was just 22 percent, much less than the 29 percent he is at currently with the Magic.
This Orlando Magic team is also very similar to the Oklahoma City teams of past years. Durant, Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden all had to learn to play together, so Westbrook wasn't the only one making adjustments. It took him until year three to really put it all together.
It is going to be a process for Oladipo to learn to coexist with teammates and improve their games. Once they all get more time under their belts, Oladipo will not be telegraphing as many passes or turning the ball over as much.
At that point, we may start to see some flashes of Westbrook down in Orlando.
*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013.
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