NBA draft 2013: Indiana’s Victor Oladipo more than just a lockdown defender
Victor Oladipo is coming off perhaps the best junior breakout season since UConn’s Kemba Walker exploded back in 2010-11. Already well established as a lockdown perimeter defender, Oladipo made huge strides on the offensive side of the ball this past season, and that has catapulted him high into the lottery — possibly as high as the No. 2 overall pick.
It’s easy to look at Oladipo’s progression from three-point range as a barometer of his expanded game. After making just 18-of-74 threes in his first two seasons, Oladipo knocked down 30-of-68 (44.1 percent) this past season, and showed the ability to make pressure ones, like the one that iced the Round of 32 NCAA tournament win over Temple. Of course, NBA shooting guards have to be able to shoot from deep, but Oladipo brings so much more to the table than that, both in transition and in halfcourt sets.
Oladipo was very good or better in practically every offensive subcategory last season, per Synergy Sports Technology. He’s a terrific finisher in the open court, was surprisingly good in spot-up situations, hit the offensive glass (a gaudy 11.8 percent OReb rate for a guard) and scored well on putbacks, and was even a significant threat as the pick-and-roll ball handler, making 10 of his 16 shots this season off the bounce after using a screen. On the whole, Oladipo made 64.4 percent of his two-point field goal attempts this past season, which would be excellent for a center, let alone a guard.
One explosive college season does not an NBA All-Star make, but Oladipo has a significant amount of skill with the ball (although he does need to corral his turnovers), considering that’s not the side of his game that everyone talks about. He’s going to have to show he can consistently make open jump shots at the pro level to keep defenders honest (and he doesn’t really jump on his spot-up jump shot) but it looks like he will be able to do that. He’ll have the added benefit of space on the perimeter as defenders would rather have him shoot the long J than attack off the bounce.
This draft workout video, with the obvious caveats of nice editing and no defenders, shows off Oladipo’s all-around ability with the ball:
Where Oladipo is considered more of a given is the defensive end, where he was one of the college game’s most disruptive perimeter defenders, constantly ball hawking and harassing opposing guards. He’s a sturdy 6-foot-4 in shoes with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, so he has the size to defend pro guards. Throw in how consistently hard he plays, which isn’t always a given for NBA guys 82 nights a year, and you should have a rookie who’s a solid contributor with significant upside as his offensive skills continue to improve.
The decision between Ben McLemore and Oladipo as the first shooting guard off the board should be an interesting one. McLemore is a dreamer’s prospect, with good athleticism and a beautiful shooting stroke that makes him look like a surefire NBA 2. Some people mention the age difference as a factor between the prospects, but Oladipo is only nine months older than McLemore. Throw in Oladipo’s superior defense and, to this point, superior constitution as a player, and it’s a lot more of a decision than anyone could have expected. Most teams likely would go with the upside of McLemore, but Oladipo probably will be the better immediate two-way player. Where he goes from there, and whether his upside is as considerable as McLemore’s, will be determined by his continued offensive development.