Orlando Magic

Role Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

AP Photo/Scott Audette

We know everything Stephen Curry and LeBron James do. We sound the alarm over every Anthony Davis block and dunk.

That’s all fair, but it makes it easy for role players to not get properly recognized. In the ebb and flow of the season, several role players go through hot streaks that go under the radar.

We’ll try to rectify this issue by awarding a Role Player of the Week Award. This is to highlight a superb week by a player who may not get a ton of coverage. This week’s winner is Victor Oladipo.

Orlando is at a crucial point in its development as a team, as the team has plenty of young assets that don’t all fit together. Rob Hennigan and Scott Skiles need to decide which players fit their vision moving forward.

Victor Oladipo is making his case lately as one of the more valuable pieces of the core on the team. Always a strong defender, there has always been a lingering question as to just how effective Oladipo can be on offense. And it was a slow start this season for the third-year guard, who shot 38.3 percent from the start of the year through December, per NBA.com.

Since then, though, Oladipo has been excellent. He’s led the team in scoring since the calendar turned to 2016. averaging 19.1 points on 47.8 percent shooting. He’s even found his shot from the outside, shooting 40.8 percent on threes.

The three-point shot is something Oladipo has slowly improved upon each year in the league, He shot 32.7 percent his rookie season, 33.9 percent last year and 35.1 percent this year.

When Oladipo is hitting threes and taking good shots, he has a complete offensive game. He has a quick first step and can finish among the trees easily, and is relentless getting to the rim:

This kind of play highlights a strength Oladipo has always had in his game. If a defender gets even slightly out of position, he wastes no time in getting to the rim and finishes once he gets there.

He’s a solid passer as well. Orlando experimented with him a bit as point guard before scrapping that and making him a primary shooting guard. Oladipo isn’t an elite passer, but he does it well enough, especially out of the pick-and-roll:

Oladipo still has his warts offensively. He still takes some bad shots, occasionally settling for a long, contested two-point jumper early in the shot clock. And he commits some bad turnovers as well, although he’s cut down on those this season.

But when it’s all clicking, Oladipo is unguardable. He dropped 45 points on the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night, making him one of only 11 players in the entire league to hit that mark this season. He was hitting his threes, and that opened up every other part of his offensive repertoire. Cleveland simply had no answer for him.

It’s this kind of effort that makes him such a tantalizing player. It’s still unclear whether a backcourt of Oladipo and Elfrid Payton will bring enough shooting to be a viable fit in the long-term. Both have improved immensely in that area, but neither is enough of a threat off the ball to make other teams nervous right now.

And if Orlando has to choose between the two of them at any point, it seems like Oladipo is the better choice. Payton is a wizard of a passer and solid defender with length, but he hasn’t improved the rest of his offensive game much in Year 2. Oladipo is a much more dynamic scorer, and seems more likely to develop into a true franchise cornerstone.

Perhaps the Magic will be able to build around both of them, as they both will likely continue to improve. But Oladipo’s performance lately has reiterated that he’s the more valuable option moving forward.

To Top