While Victor Oladipo hasn’t massively burst onto the scene like fellow rookie Michael Carter-Williams, he’s put together a very solid start to the season. He’s scored well, showcased nice vision at times, and, most importantly, been relentless attacking the rim. His defense has been as good as advertised, too. The one rub on what seems like a pretty rosy start is Oladipo’s propensity to turn the ball over.
He’s averaging 5.9 turnovers per 36 minutes and sporting a 26.4 turnover percentage. We can dig even further into how these turnovers occurred using nbawowy:
|Steal||Bad Pass||Discontinue Dribble||Lost Ball Out of Bounds||Stepped Out of Bounds||Traveling|
|9 (40.9%)||6 (27.3%)||3 (16.7%)||2 (9.1%)||1 (5.6%)||1 (5.6%)|
He struggled early with palming the ball, a point of emphasis this year for NBA officials. Other than that, it’s been almost entirely what he does with ball, whether it be dribbling or passing. That may look troublesome on the surface — one could think that he has bad vision or handles — but it could actually be a good thing.
John Hollinger has hypothesized that rookies putting up lots of turnovers actually have had much higher rates of improvement. And looking at the list of guys that have put up abnormally-high turnover rates as rookies since 2000, that theory doesn’t sound so hair-brained.
Andre Iguodala, Dwyane Wade, John Wall, and Russell Westbrook are all players that had a bad habit for coughing the ball up their rookie season.
After watching the video of Oladipo’s turnovers, it seems that “turnovers are good” hypothesis may apply to him also. A lot of them are things like this:
Sure, he was a bit sloppy with the ball at the end of the spin, but at least he has the reflexes and creativity to even attempt that move. Instead of taking a pull-up long two off the pick, he attacks and tries something out. And, lo and behold, a few games later against the Brooklyn Nets, he attempted the same move twice and succeeded both times.
In a few years, the rookie that took the pull-up J will have had fewer turnovers his rookie season, but will also probably be the lesser player than the one who uncompromisingly attacks the hole in the mold of Wade and Westbrook — two elite players.