Denton: Tight Rookie of the Year Race

By John Denton
Feb. 26, 2014

PHILADELPHIA – Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams came from the same draft class and have become fast friends off the court as they simultaneously try to make the transition to life in the NBA.

Both of their coaches – Orlando’s Jacque Vaughn and Philadelphia’s Brett Brown – see the two point guards as being forever linked because of their deep talent bases and their ultra-bright futures.

The two point guards entered Wednesday night’s game in Philadelphia ranked first and second in rookie scoring (Carter-Williams at 17.3 ppg. and Oladipo at 14 ppg.), steals (Carter-Williams at 2.02 spg. and Oladipo at 1.64 spg.) and minutes (Carter-Williams at 34.6 mpg. and Oladipo at 31.9 mpg). The two even formed a team at the NBA All-Star Game, finishing second in the Skills Contest.

Vaughn and Brown see Oladipo and Carter-Williams as the leaders of the next wave of promising point guards in the NBA. Their styles are dramatically different – Oladipo is quicker and more physical, while Carter-Williams is longer and the craftier passer – but their success very well could run parallel for years to come.

``I think they will always be linked because of their draft class. Both are rising stars and both in the conversation for Rookie of the Year, so they will be linked together for a long time,’’ Vaughn said. ``Michael has played extremely well for his group with his ability to get to the paint and pass the ball. So he’s done a lot of good things for Coach Brown.’’

Brown was asked if Oladipo and Carter-Williams have the potential to be future stars and he said, ``You would have to think so, wouldn’t you, after you look at what they’ve both done in their first NBA season. They do what they do differently, but those are two excellent prospects for the future. But what we’ve all learned though is that it is early days for everybody. You just never know. They are both in great situations where they can play big minutes without a lot of expectation. Time will tell exactly how far each of those kids get.’’

DEDMON’S LINK: Seven-foot center Dewayne Dedmon signed a 10-contract with the Magic on Monday but he didn’t see action in Washington in his first game in an Orlando uniform.

The USC product, who practiced against Magic center Nikola Vucevic as he was redshirting, is quite familiar to the whirlwind that comes with joining a team on a short contract. He inked two 10-day deals with the 76ers earlier this season. He said that the opportunity to play with the Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia, playing 15 NBA games in all, put him in a position to hook on with the Magic.

``It was a good opportunity and I really appreciate everything that the Philly organization did for me,’’ Dedmon said. ``It was good to get some exposure that helped me land a job here. It was good to come to Philadelphia and play. And I got a lot of exposure in the D-League, too.’’

Because Dedmon has been through just one shootaround with the Magic and hasn’t spent much time around his new coaches and teammates, he is probably better known to Philadelphia’s Brown. Brown learned of Dedmon’s story of not starting to play basketball until his senior year of high school because of religious reasons.

``He was a wide-eyed kid for us who hadn’t had that much of a taste of the NBA,’’ Brown said. ``But he also hadn’t played basketball until he was 18. He’s 7-foot, and a young guy who played with some energy and he was good while he was here.’’