Through the early stages of this season, we have seen a mixed bag of performances from Orlando Magic rookie Victor Oladipo. One week he’s scoring highlight reel slam dunks against the hapless Brooklyn Nets. The next, he’s committing nine turnovers in a home loss to the far from superior Dallas Mavericks. It is not all Oladipo’s fault though, he is seeing serious playing time running the point guard position, something he never did in his three years in college. Given he is not starting games either, it begs the question, is it time to give up this point guard experiment and let the Indiana product do what he does best and play off of the ball? Or should the team go all in and start Oladipo at the point right now?
To gain some perspective on this, first we need to look at the 21-year-old’s numbers. In the 10 games played so far, he has scored in double digits in eight of them. His fantastic athletic ability allowing him to get his buckets in a number of ways, while also being a factor on the defensive side of the ball too. Averaging 25.5 minutes off the bench, he’s second among rookies in points per game at 11.7 and is also dishing out 3.3 assists. The most telling clue of what the Magic have in store for their No. 2 overall pick actually goes beyond the numbers though. In the aforementioned loss to the Mavericks last Sunday, the team decided to ride Oladipo to the finish line as their point guard, despite the fact he was having a far from ideal game. The level headed, and healthy, veteran point guard Jameer Nelson looked on from the pine, as Oladipo was unable to conjure up any sort of anything to help the team out down the stretch. Again this is not his fault, the Mavericks seem to have Orlando’s number in the Amway Center anyway as they have now won eight straight there. Oladipo is also not a point guard as stated, so why do the Magic feel the need to keep him where he is not comfortable, even when the potential to rescue a game is there? Certainly moving a player uncomfortable and unfamiliar in this role to the two guard where he can contribute more makes sense in a close game?
It seems however that Orlando is going to keep this experiment up. Not that it makes total sense to do so, but there are minimal expectations for this season anyway, even if the team has made a promising start. If their desire for a young point guard was so great though, why didn’t the Magic look at drafting somebody like Trey Burke? Although yet to play in a competitive game, he at least has the instincts and the knowledge of leading a team at crunch time, even if the NBA is a step up from what he has known. It may be that the Magic went for potential over need in taking Oladipo, and there is nothing wrong with this outlook of course. Most people would take Oladipo over Burke, but trying to force a square peg into a round hole, which is what this looks like at the moment, doesn’t really seem to be working. Yes it is early days and there is every chance Oladipo will learn the point guard ropes as time goes on, but what if he doesn’t? It wouldn’t make him a bust as that was never his position, but what happens next?
Whatever Orlando decide to do with their prized rookie, they need to make a decision soon. To think that a player coming off the bench and spending considerable time out of position is still many people’s rookie of the year so far (sorry Michael Carter-Williams) shows the serious potential this kid has. But it is time to go all in one way or another. Throwing him into the ebb and flow of a game from the bench, which changes every night, in the hope he learns how to be a good point guard won’t work. Either they move him back to the shooting guard position and let him come off the bench that way to induce some energy and scoring punch before eventually giving him the starting berth there. Or start him at point guard against the Miami Heat. Games come no tougher than that after all, and while the Magic may suffer a lot of losing, isn’t that what the point of this season was anyway? So what would you do, move Oladipo back to the familiarity he already knows and can thrive in, or allow this awkward experiment to go on in the hope something great comes of it? As always, leave your comments below!