Denton: Oladipo Wants to Work on His "Landing"

By John Denton
Jan. 24, 2014

ORLANDO – Of all the areas that Orlando Magic rookie Victor Oladipo says he still needs to work on, one particular focus that the electrifying combo guard wants to better might surprise some.

Because one of his best assets is his ability to get to the rim, Oladipo is constantly getting contact from power forwards and centers and getting knocked to the floor. So Oladipo said he must become better at falling so he can better avoid injury and additional wear and tear on his body.

``That’s something that I need to work on because I can’t be falling all of the time. I had that problem my first couple of years at Indiana and my third year it wasn’t as bad. It’s something that I need to get used to (at the NBA level),’’ Oladipo said. ``Maybe it’s young age or I’m a quick healer, but I don’t feel it too much the next day. I hit the ground and just kind of lay there a second, but as soon as I can I get back up and keep rolling. It might sound weird working on landing, but that’s definitely something that I need to work on.’’

According to NBA.com’s player tracking data, Oladipo is tied for 27th in the NBA in drives to the hoop with 247. He’s scored 205 points on those drives and has shot 45.8 percent.

Another example of how many times that Oladipo has the ball in the hands is his 2,806 touches, the 30th most in the NBA. To put that in perspective, all-star and NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant is 29th in the league in touches with 2,846. Oladipo’s handling of the ball equates to 65.3 touches of a game for an average of 5 minutes of real time on average.

Oladipo said no amount of contact or falling to the floor will keep him from relentlessly attacking the rim because of the positives that it creates for the Magic. ``I just know that I can get there and when I get there I am going to finish and finish strong,’’ Oladipo said of his drives to the hoop. ``I’ll try to draw contact and keep attacking. Sometimes I’ll get hit and sometimes they will call it and sometimes they won’t because I’m a rookie. I can’t go in there expecting a foul call and I have to finish. A lot of people say that I play bigger than my size. I just feel like I can get to the rim and when I get there I give myself and my team a chance.’’

UNCOMFORTABLE ALL-STAR: Coaches throughout the NBA have raved all season about the steady production and consistency of Magic guard Arron Afflalo, and some of those coaches have gone so far as to suggest that Afflalo should be considered as a selection for the NBA All-Star Game.

The numbers that Afflalo has put up – career highs in points (20.2 ppg.), rebounds (4.5 rpg.) and assists (3.8 apg.) – certainly make him a worthy candidate to make the All-Star team as a reserve selected by the Eastern Conference coaches.

While Afflalo said he would appreciate an All-Star nod that would be the first of his seven-year NBA career, he admitted that he is somewhat uncomfortable with the focus being on an individual accolade. He has made it a point that his primary focus is winning – something that the Magic have unfortunately done little of in this season of transition.

``I haven’t been paying attention to (all-star talk) to it lately. As we’ve started to have our struggles as a team, that became more of my focus to get us out of that funk,’’ Afflalo said. ``Early in the season it was fun because it was my first time being in the conversation and hit with (all-star) consideration. But it’s just about the growth of my game.

``You have to be careful with that stuff,’’ Afflalo added, referring to the all-star talk. ``You get off to talking too much individuality and it can be sensitive sometimes. But the coaching staff has given me a great opportunity and the coaches have done a good job of getting me the ball and allowing me to exce.’’

DEMAND FOR DORON LAMB: Second-year guard Doron Lamb has had his struggles this season, from suffering a severe ankle injury in training camp that knocked him out of action for an extended period of time to being unable to play consistently enough to stay in the rotation.

But Magic coach Jacque Vaughn never lost faith in Lamb and continued to insert him into the lineup because of the guard’s ability to drill shots from the perimeter. Lamb showed the Magic his shooting abilities last season after he was traded from Milwaukee to Orlando. He shot 47.6 percent (10 of 21) from 3-point range last season, including a big night against his former Milwaukee team where he made four 3-pointers.

Lamb played his best basketball of the season on Wednesday when he scored a season-high 13 points and stroked in three 3-pointers. His only negative was picking up three fouls in 10 seconds and fouling out of the game midway through the third quarter.

Vaughn said he plans to give Lamb some consistent playing time in the games ahead to see if he can put together a string of hot shooting nights.

``On a personal level, I do like to see if guys can repeat acts,’’ Vaughn said. ``I do like consistency. So there is a likelihood that he will get some minutes.’’