Denton: Mavs Coach Compares Oladipo to a Young Gilbert Arenas

By John Denton
Jan. 13, 2014

DALLAS – Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is an NBA champion both as a former player and a coach and he is almost universally thought of as one of the brightest minds in all the NBA.

So when Carlisle breaks down Xs and Os or evaluates players, NBA types usually listen. Carlisle is just that good when it comes to recognizing talent, utilizing it the right way and getting the best out of it.

Prior to Monday night’s game between the Orlando Magic and the Mavericks, Carlisle was asked about what he thought about the unique talents of Magic rookie Victor Oladipo. He also was asked for his thoughts on the team’s plan to use Oladipo at both the shooting guard and point guard positions.

Carlisle, a coach who has made a living out of thinking outside the box when it comes to getting the best out of players, loved the Magic’s plans to try and fully maximize Oladipo’s talents. Carlisle also has an interesting comparison when trying to evaluate Oladipo’s style of play.

``There are some guys, when you look at the recent history of the league … the reason that Gilbert Arenas wasn’t taken until the second round was because people didn’t think that he could play the point,’’ Carlisle said. ``And everybody was wrong about that (with Arenas).

``Oladipo has a lot of Gilbert’s qualities,’’ Carlisle continued. ``He loves to play, he’s got energy, he’s got offensive energy and defensive energy. And he appears to have a real intellectual curiosity for the game and great enthusiasm for it. Guys like that, with the kind of ability that he has, usually have a great chance.’’

Oladipo has spent much of this season alternating between the two guard slots. He often starts at the shooting guard position and then slides over to the point when veteran Jameer Nelson sits for a rest.

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn usually tries to keep a second ball-handler, such as E’Twaun Moore, Doron Lamb or Nelson, on the floor with Oladipo at the same time to lighten the load on him. But Vaughn reiterated on Monday that he hasn’t tried to put a label on Oladipo’s position because he has the ability to play both spots at various times in games.

``I don’t think, as an organization, that we’ve stamped off on him being a point guard,’’ Vaughn said. ``What we’ve done is challenged him to expand his game. He’s a guard. And in this league when you have versatility and guys who can handle the ball and multiple guys who can get you in pick-and-roll, it’s an advantage.’’

Vaughn feels that Oladipo will be a better player in the long run because of the responsibilities that the Magic have placed on him to know both the point guard and shooting guard positions. He say he can see a future where Oladipo is both running the team from the point or being a go-to wing player for the franchise. Oladipo entered Monday’s game averaging 13.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.1 turnovers a game.

``I think he’s really grown as a basketball player,’’ Vaughn said. ``We’ve asked him to do a lot of things that he didn’t do in college, whether that was decision-making with the basketball, initiating the offense or other things that he hasn’t done, but he’s accepted the challenge and that’s what makes him special.’’