Denton: Oladipo Awaits Rising Stars Challenge Draft

By John Denton
Feb. 5, 2014

ORLANDO – Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo is a huge basketball fan and has said in the past that rarely a night goes by that he doesn’t watch a basketball game of some kind.

Before he watches games on Thursday night, Oladipo will be tuning in to TNT’s pregame show for a totally different reason than to scout a foe.

Oladipo, who was selected last week to play in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge at the NBA All-Star Game Weekend, will find out who his teammates will be for the game on Thursday night. Turner Sports’ analysts Grant Hill – a former Magic player from 2000-07 – and Chris Webber will serve as the honorary general managers for the teams and draft players for the two squads. The ``draft’’ will be held on Thursday night at 7 p.m. on TNT.

``I didn’t even know that (a mock draft) was going on, but it will be interesting to see who I am playing with and playing against,’’ Oladipo said.

Oladipo is among the top rookies, along with Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams, Utah’s Trey Burke and New York’s Tim Hardaway Jr. The top second-year players include Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes and Andre Drummond.

Davis, a strong candidate to be a replacement pick in the primary NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 16, is expected to be the first player chosen by Hill or Webber. Oladipo was the No. 2 pick of last June’s NBA Draft, but he said he won’t worry too much about where he’s drafted on Thursday night.

``Not really (it doesn’t matter where he’s selected),’’ Oladipo said. ``I’m just fortunate enough to be there. I’m blessed and I thank God every day for this opportunity that I am given. I’m just trying to make the most of it.’’

HUSTLING HARRIS: The NBA’s new player tracking system allows teams to follow every step that a player takes on the court. Also, the tracking devices installed in all 30 NBA areas also give teams information on just how fast players run on the break and the distance that they run during games.

For example, guard Arron Afflalo leads the Magic in distance run per game (2.5 miles) because he is constantly on the move while weaving through screens to try and shake defenders. Not far behind Afflalo, Tobias Harris and Oladipo average 2.3 miles run a game.

When it comes to sheer speed, second-year forward Maurice Harkless leads the way at 4.4 miles per hour when he sprinting down on the fastbreak or running back on defense. E’Twaun More (4.3 mph) and Oladipo (4.2 mph) aren’t far behind Harkless. Those numbers are almost to be expected for guards such as Oladipo and Moore, but maybe the most impressive speed numbers come from Harris, a 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward. Harris tears down the court on average at 4.2 miles per hour and he is often a leader on the Magic fast break.

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said Harris’ willingness to sprint up and down the floor not only shows off great hustle, but it’s also a very giving act on his part for the betterment of the team.

``I think that’s a part of competing,’’ Vaughn said. ``And what he’s doing is a very unselfish run where he might not get the basketball, but the fact that you are putting pressure on the defense and collapsing the defense, that’s team basketball.’’

SHOES FOR EVERY OCCASION: When the NBA lifted the restrictions on shoes that players can wear in games, it freed them up to experiment more with different styles and colors.

For the most part, Oladipo has stuck to wearing shoes that match the Magic’s blue, black and white color schemes this season. But as of late, he has branched out to include gold and black shoes on Jan. 26 in New Orleans and purple and black shoes on Feb. 2 and 3 in Boston and Indianapolis. Oladipo explained that there is a method to his madness when it comes to picking out what color of shoes that he will wear in games.

``It depends on the occasion. I wore the purple ones for Black History Month and the gold and black ones for The Grammys,’’ he said. ``If there’s a special occasion or a freaky shoe coming out, I’ll wear it. I’m looking forward to whatever kind of shoes they have coming out.’’

Oladipo said he hadn’t considered wearing a special shoe for Valentine’s Day next week. Actually, he will be playing in the Rising Stars Challenge on Valentine’s Night and he said he is excited about the looks that his shoe line might come up with him to wear in that game.

``I don’t know what those shoes look like yet,’’ Oladipo said. ``It’s a surprise for me too, but I’m looking forward to it.’’