Denton: Oladipo and Bennett Share Bond

By John Denton
Jan. 2, 2014

CLEVELAND – Prior to being chosen second overall by the Orlando Magic in the June NBA Draft Victor Oladipo made some life-long friendships with others in his immediate draft class.

While players such as Anthony Bennett, Michael Carter-Williams, Trey Bennett and Oladipo forever be linked together and compared to one another, they have for the most part leaned on one another during this transition to the NBA.

Oladipo said that he’s kept in close contact with Bennett, the surprise No. 1 pick last June by the Cavaliers. Bennett, a cross between a power forward and a small forward, has struggled mightily as a rookie and has yet to crack double figures in scoring this season. He came into Thursday’s game against the Magic averaging just 2.6 points and 2.0 rebounds in only 10.5 minutes a night.
Oladipo, meanwhile, has been a steady contributor for the Magic despite riding the rookie roller coaster full of highs and lows. He came into Thursday night third among NBA rookies in scoring (12.9 ppg.), sixth in rebounding (4.2 rpg.), third in assists (3.6 apg.) and second in steals (1.55 spg.) and minutes (30.4 mpg.).

Oladipo said he’s tried to be encouraging to Bennett when the two have talked about the rookie experiences. Oladipo said others such as Carter-Williams and Burke have helped him through down times.

``I talked to (Bennett) a while ago about keeping his confidence up and telling him about how it’s a long journey,’’ Oladipo said. ``I’ve told him how we’re both fortunate to be here and a lot of people would do anything to be in this position. So we’ve got to have fun while we’re doing it.’’

KNIGHTS SUPPORT: With Cleveland being hit with a massive snowstorm on Wednesday night, many of the Magic players chose to stay in their hotel rooms and watch football. Many of them watched Wednesday’s Fiesta Bowl that included UCF routing Baylor for the school’s first-ever BCS victory.

Veteran point guard Jameer Nelson, who is only the second player ever to wear a Magic jersey for 10 seasons, said he’s morphed into a UCF fan through the years and he’s marveled at how the school’s national notoriety has grown dramatically.

``I’ve defensively seen progress over the years there,’’ Nelson said. ``When you did (hear about the UCF football team) before it was an in-town thing. Now, they’ve put themselves on the map and hopefully they can continue to get recruits so that they can be a top-tier team.’’

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