Denton: Oladipo vs. Teague Showdown Will Be Key Matchup


Oladipo, still just 21 years old, said he’s learned to roll with the punches and not let great games or bad games affect him too much either way. None of it, he added, will deter him from his ultimate goal ``to be great.’’

``I’m just trying to keep an even keel and stay poised, man. I’m just trying to enjoy the process,’’ said Oladipo, who is averaging 13 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 30.9 minutes a game. ``Like I said a long time ago, I want to be great, but I have to enjoy the process along the way. But I have to keep an even keel through the whole thing.’’

Friday’s demolition of the Pistons proved that he could be ready for more minutes and responsibility as a point guard. Oladipo has been staying after practice every day of late, working with Player Development coach Laron Profit to find ways to attack the defense off high pick-and-roll plays. The extra work paid off on Friday as he easily got past Brandon Jennings and fellow rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and repeatedly made plays in the paint despite the presence of bruising big men Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.

Vaughn is starting to loosen the reins on Oladipo somewhat at the point guard position. Before, Oladipo would usually enter games at the shooting guard position and then slide over to point guard while also playing with Jameer Nelson, E’Twaun Moore or Doron Lamb to share the ball-handling. It was a safety net of sorts for the rookie, but now there is more freedom being given as Oladipo limits his turnovers and proves he can handle more as the Magic’s primary playmaker.

Oladipo said he is more confident than ever now that he can thrive as a NBA point guard. There have been doubts at times from the outside as the turnovers have piled up and the shot selection has wavered, but Oladipo said he’s never lost faith in his abilities. He said he works too hard and takes his craft too seriously to ever fail at point guard – even if he still hears some of the whispers doubting him.

``From the jump, I felt like it was a challenge that I could face and overcome,’’ Oladipo said of the transition to point guard. ``There are still a lot of things that I need to work on, but I’ll keep improving. A lot of people don’t think I should be playing (point guard) or can’t play it, but that’s fine. I’ll just continue to get better at it.’’


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