Oladipo: "Staying Strong, Staying Toned and Staying Strong is Important"

By John Denton
March 2, 2014

ORLANDO – Of the many things that Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo has accomplished in this, his rookie season, one is the durability he has shown despite repeatedly getting knocked to the floor.

Whether it’s getting hit by screens or colliding with bigger players at the rim, Oladipo usually spends a fair amount of time on the floor every game. Still, the rookie is the only player on the Magic to appear in all 62 games. He also entered Sunday’s game against Philadelphia having played the most minutes on the team (1,943).

Oladipo hasn’t suffered any major injuries and he’s battled through the bumps, bruises and mental and physical fatigue and has been available for his team every night. He takes great pride in keeping his body ready to play and staying ready to play throughout the NBA’s marathon-like 82-game season.

``I don’t really like to miss games,’’ Oladipo said. ``Thank God and knock on wood, but I didn’t miss any games in college and I’m hoping I don’t have to miss any games in my NBA career either. I’ve just got to stay healthy and stay strong.’’ Oladipo thinks that one of the reasons he’s been able to avoid injury is because he has continued to lift weights throughout the season – even on off days for the team. He also is a big proponent in dunking his body into the Magic’s cold tub because of the way it helps remove the soreness and swelling from his body. And he said he also tries to get plenty of rest whenever possible so that his mind is ready for the grind of a long season.

``Staying healthy, staying toned and staying strong is important,’’ he said. ``A lot of it is mental, too. It’s mind over matter and coming in and playing hard every night.’’

O’QUINN’S IQ: Asked following Saturday’s 14-point, 15-rebound performance what his goals were the rest of the season, Magic center Kyle O’Quinn replied: ``To win as many games as possible.’’ Asked then about his own personal goals, O’Quinn again said, ``Win as many games as possible.’’

O’Quinn is about as sharp as they come for a second-year NBA player and for someone who didn’t start playing until his junior year of high school. O’Quinn’s high IQ carries over to the court where he has become Orlando’s best passing big man and a crafty player on the glass. O’Quinn is so trusted with the ball in his hands that the Magic now use him as the team’s in-bounds passer in late-game situations.

``His ability to pass the basketball is pretty unique, especially for a guy who started the game late,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``We’ve made him our in-bounder at the end of games because of his ability to in-bound the basketball. The basketball feels comfortable in his hands. As he continues to play more, he’ll continue to get more comfortable and hopefully we’ll see a lot more from him.’’

LINEUP DILEMMA: Magic guard Arron Afflalo missed his fifth consecutive game on Sunday night, this time because of a lingering illness. Afflalo sprained his right ankle on Feb. 21 in the double-overtime defeat of the New York Knicks when he accidentally stepped on the foot of Raymond Felton.

That injury cost Afflalo three games, and he’s missed Saturday’s game in Miami and Sunday’s home game because of an illness.

Afflalo is expected to be back at practice on Tuesday and should start on Wednesday against the Houston Rockets. Maurice Harkless has started in place of Afflalo the past five games at small forward and has played well.

Vaughn admitted that he will have to come up with a plan when Afflalo is available to return because he doesn’t want to disrupt the flow of Harkless, who has scored 22, 14 and 13 points in the three games prior to Sunday night. A calf injury to starting point guard Jameer Nelson could shelf him for a period of time, allowing the Magic to move Oladipo to the point, Afflalo start at shooting guard and Harkless to remain at the small forward position.

``It’s staring you in the face in the sense of there are only a certain amount of people who can play on the floor,’’ Vaughn said of the lineup dilemma. ``Arron is our leading scorer and our most efficient player and the coach doesn’t forget that. But you also appreciate that Mo has been taking advantage of his minutes. You want guys competing for minutes and wanting to be on the floor.’’

Vaughn said that he hopes that if Harkless sees his playing time cut, he will be tough enough to battle through the change.

``A lot of times that comes with youth,’’ Vaughn said of Harkless’ past inconsistency. ``You have to be able to process the moment and not let exterior things bother you on the floor. Whether it’s being on the road or my minutes are going up and down – those are the things that affect young players. But there’s a toughness that can be gained if you can fight your way through that.’’