Denton: Oladipo Accepting Challenges Playing Point Guard

By John Denton
July 9, 2013

ORLANDO – Rather than team logos, NBA rookies should wear bulls-eye targets on their chests what with the way that opponents pinpoint their weaknesses and challenge them at every turn.

Orlando Magic point guard Victor Oladipo, the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft, found that out the hard way on Tuesday.

Still making the adjustment from superstar college shooting guard to emerging NBA point guard, the Miami Heat pressured Oladipo all over the floor and often trapped him with two players once he got into the frontcourt. Because the rookie is playing in just his third Summer League game, the results were somewhat predictable and downright ugly for Oladipo and the Magic: Five turnovers for the point guard and a 94-80 Orlando loss to the more aggressive Heat on Tuesday at the Amway Center.

``No. 2 pick, rookie, of course they are going to challenge me. Again, I’ve got to meet those challenges and I’m looking forward to those challenges,’’ Oladipo said following the Magic’s second Southwest Airlines Orlando Pro Summer League loss in as many days. ``The game of basketball is a challenge and you have to be able to outsmart, outwit and outplay your opponent. I expect them to challenge me throughout the season and the summer league. But I’m going to continue to work hard, stay mentally focused and attack those challenges.’’

Oladipo scored 22 points on Tuesday, mainly by making adjustments to the traps and getting in the lane where he ultimately shot 14 free throws with 12 makes. But he had little help elsewhere as no other Magic starter scored more than eight points and 3-point specialist Doron Lamb went down with a bruised knee. Second-round draft pick Romero Osby did score 11 points off the bench.

Magic power forward Andrew Nicholson turned the ball over six times, many of them coming when he had the ball swiped out of his hands on the low block. And Maurice Harkless, another Magic player coming off a promising rookie season, scored only eight points and had trouble with Miami’s pressure defense.

``We pretty much knew how Miami was going to play defense because that’s how Miami plays defense in the regular season, and we did exactly what they wanted to do – we let them speed us up and they controlled the pace,’’ Harkless said. ``It’s tough because they outplayed us from the start to the finish 1-through-15. It’s frustrating. It kind of starts with me because I should be a leader on this team and I can’t let that happen.’’

Miami (2-1) forced Orlando (1-2) into 21 turnovers, 15 of them coming in the first half when the Magic were still getting used to the pressure. The Magic made adjustments and played much better in the second half, getting within 56-49 in the third quarter on a Kyle O’Quinn hook shot.

The Magic are feeding Oladipo a heaping helping of scenarios this week as he tries to make the transition from shooting guard to point guard. The belief is that because of Oladipo’s defensive prowess, his quickness off the dribble and his high basketball IQ that he will be better suited as a playmaker in the NBA. Both Oladipo and Magic coach James Borrego said they were actually happy that Miami challenged Orlando with traps all over the floor so that the point guard would have another experience to learn from.

``Even though we didn’t like the result tonight, I think this was good for him,’’ said Borrego, the lead assistant on Jacque Vaughn’s staff. ``It was good for us as a group too. Teams this season aren’t going to let up and they will do that to (Oladipo). They understand this is a new area for him (at point guard) and a new league for him and they will try to exploit that.’’

Added Oladipo: ``I’m glad that they did it, actually. I knew that it was coming, but I didn’t know what team was going to do it. They did it today and I’m glad they did it so I can see what it looks like and learn from it. It was tough because they had an aggressive trap going. It’s the summer league and we’ve got to learn from it.’’

Through three games, Oladipo leads the Magic in scoring (17.3 ppg.), assists (4.7 apg.), steals (nine) and free throw makes (26) and attempts (32). But he also leads the way in turnovers with 14 – six in his first game, three on Monday and five against Miami’s pressure. Oladipo, who kicked the ball away just once in the second half on Tuesday, said he would combat the turnover woes by studying film of himself to learn from his mistakes.

``I’ve got to cut down on the turnovers or my last name is going to change from Oladipo to Mr. Turnover,’’ he said with a chuckle. ``I’ve got to fix that, definitely.’’ Oladipo said he would also attack his struggles with the best way he knows how – hard work. His work ethic at Indiana University was legendary what with his willingness to work before and after practices and even on off days. Even with the Magic scheduled to be off on Wednesday, Oladipo said he planned to find a gym to get up shots and do ball-handling drills.

``I’ll be in the gym, shoot some shots, work out and try to get some rest after that,’’ he said. ``I know that they want us to take a break, but I just have to keep that rhythm going. Again, it’s a whole new position for me and I’ve got to put some type of work in so I can be confident going into there on Thursday.’’

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.





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