Denton: Fatigue An Undeniable Factor For Oladipo in Final Stages of Season

By John Denton
Feb. 25, 2014

WASHINGTON D.C. – Jacque Vaughn has said repeatedly that part of his duty as coach of the Orlando Magic is to put his players in positions where they can succeed.

Accordingly so, Vaughn has kept a close eye on point guard Victor Oladipo this season in an attempt to make sure that the mental and physical workload of an 82-game season doesn’t overwhelm the prized rookie.

Sensing recently that Oladipo was wearing down following a four-day All-Star Game break in which he was loaded with NBA and sponsorship commitments, Vaughn made the conscious decision to back off of the guard to give him somewhat of a break.

In the first two games after the break last week, Vaughn played Oladipo just 22 minutes in Milwaukee and 18 minutes in Cleveland. Then, following an off day, Vaughn ratcheted up the workload again and rode Oladipo’s strong play for 49 minutes against the New York Knicks. The result of Vaughn’s timely rest for Oladipo was a spectacular 30-point, 14-assist, nine-rebound effort against the Knicks.

``I think he’s done a really good job this first year of taking care of his body. Whether it’s seeing him in the gym on off days, getting treatment or things of that nature – those are a couple of elements where he’s done a good job and it will help him,’’ Vaughn said. ``There were a few games where I had the liberty – and I took that liberty a little bit – to give him a little bit of a refresher. But he’s done a good job of preparing and having his body ready.’’

A native of Upper Marlboro, Md., Oladipo planned to visit with family and friends on Monday night while the Magic were in Washington, D.C. When Orlando played in Washington in early December, Oladipo was blown away by the significance of playing a professional game in front of his family. He said that he was almost relieved to have that experience out of the way so that he could simply focus on the task at hand this time around.

``The people who came to support me were great and it was a great time,’’ Oladipo remembered from December. ``It was fun and memorable. Now, being here a second time around, I can just focus on the game.’’

Oladipo is the only Magic player to appear in all 59 games. He started his 34th game on Tuesday night in Washington, while he has been used as a reserve 25 times. Oladipo has also split his time as a shooting guard and a point guard, often playing both positions in the same game.

Vaughn said that while he had a general idea of how he wanted to use the rookie guard heading into the season, he let the rookie’s energy level and success rate on the court dictate his minutes and position assignment dictate his usage. Vaughn said that overall he’s been happy with Oladipo’s play and how he’s responded to various challenges.

``We’ve put him in positions that were sometimes uncomfortable and challenged him and sometimes he was comfortable and his instincts were able to take over,’’ Vaughn said. ``He’s learned a lot about the game of basketball at this level. We’ve been able to test him, put him in positions to have success and also challenge him. We do feel good about what he’s been able to accomplish this year.’’

NELSON’S TOUGHNESS: Magic veteran point guard Jameer Nelson said he woke up Tuesday morning with a nosebleed and a burning sensation in his sinuses, putting his availability for Tuesday’s game briefly in jeopardy. But Nelson eventually decided to play for a Magic team that was already without leading-scorer Arron Afflalo (sprained ankle).

Nelson was unsure if the pain he felt had anything to do with him getting violently poked in the eye Sunday night in Toronto. As Nelson was about to attempt a 3-pointer, Kyle Lowry reached out and grabbed Nelson by the face and poked him in the eye.

``I just woke up with this burning (below his eyes) and (in his forehead),’’ Nelson said. ``I don’t know what caused it.’’

Nelson moved into fourth place on the Magic’s all-time scoring list on Sunday night, passing Shaquille O’Neal. Nelson is just the second Magic player ever to wear and Orlando uniform for 10 straight seasons along with Nick Anderson.