Orlando's Victor Oladipo (right) takes a shot over Oklahoma City's Ron Anderson during an NBA summer league basketball game. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BY NICK WILLIAMS Tribune staff
Published: July 13, 2013
Updated: July 13, 2013 at 12:09 AM
ORLANDO - The Orlando Magic have high hopes for rookie guard Victor Oladipo, the All-American out of Indiana University and the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft. After finishing last season with the worst record in the league at 20-62, Orlando drafted Oladipo, a proven winner with the Hoosiers, to help turn Orlando into a contender again after some lean years following the departure of center Dwight Howard. But if the Oladipo era is to be successful, it might have to include the 6-foot-5 guard playing an unfamiliar role. The Magic said they will experiment with playing Oladipo at point guard, a position he has never played.
"I'm a point guard (now), and I have to play like one," Oladipo said at the NBA Pro Summer League this past week in Orlando. "I have to lead my team." Oladipo signed his rookie contract Sunday, just minutes before making his debut in the Pro Summer League. Though details of the contract were not disclosed, Oladipo will reportedly make just less than $4 million his rookie season and a little more than $4 million in his second and third seasons, according to the new NBA collective bargaining agreement. In his first game in a Magic jersey, Sunday against the Boston Celtics, he scored 18 points with seven assists, six turnovers and five steals in 33 minutes. "The point guard, at this level, it's a little challenging, just because you don't want to speed things up, you have to play and pick your times when you need to be aggressive and not be aggressive," Oladipo said. As a junior at Indiana, Oladipo averaged 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game and helped the Hoosiers earn their second straight trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 and Indiana's first outright Big Ten regular-season championship since 1993. A terrific defender, Oladipo set an Indiana single-season record and led the Big Ten in steals with 78, and he was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Oladipo was a finalist for the Wooden Award and the Oscar Robertson Trophy, given to the National Player of the Year, and was named Sporting News National Player of the Year. In his second game at the summer league Monday, Oladipo shot 2-of-12 and finished with 12 points, five assists and three turnovers. "Even though we lost, I feel like I took a better time just taking my time coming off ball screens and making the right play," he said. "I'm not sure how many turnovers I had, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't as much as (Sunday). That's just taking time and slowing the game down and making proper reads." Said Orlando summer-league coach James Borrego: "I thought Vic was aggressive. He looked fantastic at the point. "He didn't shoot it great, but he got us into our sets, was the aggressor to the rim, got us settled. We tried to put him in pick-and-roll a lot today to see what he can do." Oladipo said he's been studying NBA players like Miami's Dwyane Wade and Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook who also made the transition out of college from shooting guard to combination/point guard. "I watch everybody. Dwyane Wade, (Indiana's) George Hill did the same thing, (Russell) Westbrook, a whole bunch of guys. I know if they can do it, I'm capable of doing the same thing. I know they had to learn. It just didn't all come overnight." "We'll continue to put the ball in his hands," Borrego said. "We like him in transition." [email protected] (813) 259-7305 Twitter: @NickWilliamsTBO