Oladipo: "You Have to Look at the Bigger Picture"

By John Denton
March 12, 2014

ORLANDO – When the final buzzer sounded and the Orlando Magic trudged to their locker room at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee on Monday, Oladipo stayed behind a few extra seconds on the bench.

Playing in his first game after missing seven days with ankle soreness, Oladipo was frustrated – both with the losing and with the way that he had played in the 105-98 defeat to the Bucks. Offensively, Oladipo was sound with five-of-six shooting, two 3-pointers, 12 points and four assists in limited action. But defensively Oladipo said that he felt a step slow and he was upset with himself for allowing Brandon Knight to score 24 points and allowing Milwaukee to wipe out an 18-point deficit.

Put it all together and it was a bit crushing mentally for the rookie guard.

``It just gets kind of overwhelming sometimes with all of the losing and stuff,’’ Oladipo admitted. ``I just have to continue to go hard and get better.’’

Oladipo and the Magic (19-46) will have another shot at getting better tonight when they host the Denver Nuggets (27-36) at 7 p.m. at the Amway Center. The Nuggets have lost two in a row and eight of the last 10 under first-year coach Brian Shaw, a former guard for the Magic.

Denver has fallen 10 games out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference and almost assuredly will be in the draft lottery. That’s significant because the Nuggets owe the Magic a first-round draft pick this summer by virtue of the Orlando-Denver-Philadelphia-Lakers trade from 2012. The Nuggets also own New York’s first-round pick, and the Magic will receive the worst first-round pick of Denver’s and New York’s spots in the lottery.

Orlando currently has the NBA’s third-fewest wins (19), while the Knicks (25 wins) are ninth and the Nuggets (27 wins) are 12th among the teams not in the playoffs. If the season ended today and the lottery held to form of the current standings, the Magic would select third and 12th in what figures to be a bountiful draft.

Oladipo is proof positive of what the Magic could get out of the draft. The prized No. 2 pick from last June has played well in his rookie season while averaging 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 31.8 minutes a game. He’s started 37 games, but he’s expected to play off the bench as a reserve tonight against Denver.

Oladipo was the only Magic player to appear in the first 62 games of the season. But soreness in his left ankle caused the Magic to hold him out of losses to Houston and San Antonio last week. And the time off left Oladipo a little bit rusty on Monday night in Milwaukee, he said.

``I felt a little bit slow, I guess, because it had been a little while since I had played. My reaction times were a little bit slow, but I’m going to get back into the swing of things and continue to keep playing hard,’’ Oladipo said. ``Five of those seven days (out with the injury) I wasn’t doing anything. So I’ve just got to get back into the swing of things and keep getting better.’’

Oladipo admitted that at times he doesn’t handle the losing well and that some defeats stay with him longer than others. He said that his first year in the NBA has taught him that you have to move on mentally because there’s seemingly always another game on the horizon.

``It’s tough, but it’s just a learning process and you just have to get better. I know it might sound old because I’ve been saying that all year, but it’s true,’’ Oladipo said of his approach to combating the struggles. ``I just have to continue getting better. You have to look at the bigger picture. We have to keep fighting and growing the chemistry.’’