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Frankel’s 2013-14 projections
After his first two seasons at Indiana University, Victor Oladipo might have snuck in at the tail end of the first round in the 2012 NBA Draft. As a defense-first guard with a 6-foot-9 wingspan on a staunch 6-foot-4, 215-pound body, ‘Dip could match up against either guard position. But he didn’t — yet — possess the offensive skills that would translate well to the next level. So he smartly stayed in school, and worked on his game.
Then, as a junior, he improved his outside shot and became an important part of the Indiana offense. He averaged 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists a game for an Indiana team that spent 10 weeks ranked No. 1 in the nation.
That’s what happens when you’re as hungry to improve as Oladipo was after his sophomore season as a Hoosier. But how his improved game translates to the NBA remains to be seen — though Summer League evidence seems to point to a hawkish defender with a possible ceiling as an All-Star.
Oladipo’s performance next season on the defensive end is easier to determine than his offensive role. He’ll spend time at point and the off-guard, depending on Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson’s health and productivity, so his ballhandling and ability to run the offense will be on display. We just don’t know how bad the growing pains will be.
There’s a huge learning curve for most rookies, but Oladipo appears to have a cot reserved at the gym, and his desire to improve is a large reason he jumped so high in the draft. With the Magic rebuilding, Oladipo is a Rookie of the Year candidate, but any rookie honors will depend on a role that’s still being decided as we enter the second week of training camp and the first round of preseason games.
Oladipo’s shooting improved enough in his final season at Indiana, I was surprised at his junior year shooting splits of 60/44/75. A 60 percent mark from the field with close to two 3-point attempts per game is incredibly efficient against the Big Ten. He’s so strong, while also being quick, opposing points couldn’t keep him from getting easy buckets at the rim.
After watching him leap around the gym during the NBA rookie photo shoot in August, I can attest to his athleticism first-hand. He just runs and jumps like a natural athlete, and when you combine that with his determination on the defensive end, we could be looking at an All-NBA defender in a couple years. That prediction hinges on his ability to defend faster and stronger players, but all signs point to a top-flight defensive talent.
Victor’s junior-year shooting numbers won’t continue at the NBA level, though. He shot 37.5 percent in four games during Summer League play in Orlando, but if you discount his abysmal 2-for-13 performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder, that percentage rises to 44.4, and an outrageous 70 percent from 3 (7-for-10 in three games). But it’s still Summer League, and it’s doubtful Oladipo will be that effective against first-team NBA defenses.
Oladipo drastically improved his shooting after his sophomore season at Indiana, and there’s no reason to doubt that same improvement as he enters his rookie season.
A possible game-changing perimeter defender, Oladipo has the ability and the drive to be the all-around (point?) guard that helps lead the Magic back to prominence over the next decade.