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In February, after everyone had witnessed Victor Oladipo’s steady development as a point guard in the first few months of his rookie season, Jacque Vaughn said that ‘Dipo may remain a combo guard further into his career.
Oladipo-at-point guard was an experiment in having him as a primary ballhandler, something that wasn’t really his main role during his three years in college at Indiana. It’s fair to say that the experiment was a success, with him finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting after a solid season.
Offensively, Oladipo was most successful in isolation. For ‘Dipo, 45.6 percent of his isolations finished in a score for the Magic and 0.93 points per possession (44th in the NBA) were generated in those situations, per Synergy Sports.
He showed good composure in isolation plays, often using his generally superior strength and speed over other point guards to his advantage. However, he settled for long jump shots a bit too often, or at least not in the right circumstances.
He wasn’t terrible from midrange and behind the 3-point line, with his percentages of 38.1 percent and 32.7 percent respectively both hovering either around or a little below the league average (for further info, here is his shot chart for the season). However, it wasn’t the volume of shots from these areas that caused problems, rather the situation.
For instance, see here as Oladipo has Andre Miller guarding him — a player ‘Dipo can undoubtedly beat to the rim — but bails him out by shooting a long two.
Sometimes we do see Oladipo take advantage of his strength and body control, as is displayed here when he easily scores on Luke Ridnour in a pick-and-roll.
Oladipo came a long way in developing his pick-and-roll game this season, where he was breathtaking to watch when everything was clicking for him offensively. His explosiveness and ability to turn the corner and attack big men at the rim overwhelmed opposing defenses at times, and he displayed a solid array of moves to finish at the rim with.
Here’s a good example, as he gets into the lane off the screen, attacks the big, and finishes.
Oladipo still turned it over 20.7 percent of the time in pick-and-roll sets though, a frustrating trend that occurred throughout the season. By contrast, Chris Paul turned it over 11.9 percent of the time out of the pick-and-roll during the regular season.
Oladipo struggled when met with hard hedges or traps, as was highlighted in this piece by Spencer Lund earlier in the season. A majority of his turnovers came from lazy passes that got tipped and stolen, or from losing the ball once he got into the lane.
Here’s an example of one of Oladipo’s lazy passes that was seen surprisingly often out of pick-and-rolls.
Being easily preventable, these turnovers are particular frustrating to see if you’re a Magic fan, but it’s expected from a rookie who isn’t really used to handling such heavy point guard duties.
Oladipo often appeared indecisive or flustered when faced with hard hedges and double-teams. See here, as he seems to attempt to slip a pass through the double team, but instead throws the ball away.
And again here, as the hedging big man tracks him all the way to halfcourt, then he turns it over as his own man recovers back to him.
With that method of defending the pick-and-roll — hedging — becoming less and less popular in the NBA these days, those turnovers are less of a cause for concern. Teams prefer to have their big man staying down in the paint, so point guards are more often facing single coverage once they turn the corner. Losing the ball on drives and sloppy passes are a bit more of an issue, but as Oladipo continues to gain experience at the point guard position, those issues are likely to go away.
The way Oladipo was able to develop his game and gain confidence playing point guard will surely play dividends in the future, and was an excellent way to utilize him in a very forgettable season during which losing ultimately benefitted the Magic.
The amount of time spent with Oladipo at point guard could change drastically next season, largely depending on which players Orlando use their lottery picks on in the June draft. Regardless of this, the experience was certainly invaluable for him, and ‘Dipo has shown us he has the physical tools to continue to play a combo guard role in the future.