DeMatha's Oladipo shines in Summer League debut

DeMatha's Oladipo shines in Summer League debut
July 7, 2013, 12:15 pm
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Victor Oladipo "speechless" after being honored by DeMatha

With a confident, arching three-pointer over the fingertips of Boston's Kelly Olynyk, so unofficially began the NBA career of DeMatha (Md.) grad Victor Oladipo with the Orlando Magic. 

Oladipo, the No. 2 overall pick in this year's NBA Draft, scored 18 points and added seven assists, six rebounds, and five steals in a 95-88 win over the Celtics in his NBA Summer League debut at Amway Center in Orlando.

While performances in Summer League should be taken with a grain of salt because of the level of competition, he showed flashes of all three reasons the Magic drafted him so high: energy, athleticism, and defensive ability.

Oladipo played the majority of his college basketball at the shooting guard position, but was the primary ball-handler from the point guard position Sunday afternoon against Boston.

He was aggressive in getting to the basket and confident shooting from the perimeter, tallying 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting in the first half and adding four rebounds and three assists.

There are few who will question what Oladipo can do on the defensive end or even what he can do as a slasher on the offensive end, but the biggest point of emphasis will be how the Magic decide to mold him at the NBA level.

Seeing this point guard experiment in the first Summer League game, is this the route Orlando is looking to take? Could the Magic turn him from an undersized shooting guard with athleticism into a point guard with good size?

Oklahoma City did something similar with now-NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook. Westbrook was a shooting guard when he came out of UCLA, but was shaped (yes, with some bumps along the way) into one of the league's best at that position.

Oladipo finished with seven assists, including a couple nice dishes off of dribble penetration, including one to second-year forward Moe Harkless for a dunk.

On the other hand, there were instances when he was harassed by Boston's Darius Johnson-Odom and struggled with the pressure on the perimeter. Still not an elite ball-handler, that will be his biggest stumbling block in his possible transition to the position.

He was also less efficient than the field goal percentage he was known for in college, shooting 5-of-13 from the field.

Could Orlando be looking for a future point guard, or closer to what San Antonio has done with forward Kawhi Leonard? 

Leonard was an elite defender but shaky shooter when he was taken in the middle of the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft. He has refined his shot and became one of the main reasons that the Spurs were within five seconds of an NBA title this past season.

We obviously won't know what role Victor Oladipo will take in the NBA after one Summer League game. We might not even know after two or three seasons. 

But what he showed Sunday were some of the reasons why Orlando took him No. 2 overall and laid an early foundation for what could be a productive rookie year.