Should Victor Oladipo be a top-10 NBA pick? It depends
Doug Gottlieb offers a scouting report on Indiana University star guard Victor Oladipo.
Victor Oladipo is a freak. By freak, I mean he is athletically off the charts in ways that combine rare athletic traits for a basketball player. While jumping high is marginally important for a basketball player, I have always believed that length, lateral quickness and quickness with the ball is more telling of athletic acumen in basketball than vertical ability. But when you combine all of the previous traits with a quick and powerful vertical leap, you have a freak. Again -- Oladipo is a freak.
On the other hand, he has no position. At 6 feet 3 1/2, Oladipo has the size of a point guard, but he doesn't seem to have great feel as a passer. You could argue he has the size of a two-guard in a league that is playing more and more hybrids, but he's not really a shooter. Although his jumper has improved, he was a "line-hugger" when shooting college 3s. Can Oladipo improve as a shooter? Sure. He has good balance on open midrange, pull-up jumpers. But while he has a strong right hand, the ex-Indiana Hoosier isn't comfortable going one-on-one for a pull-up jumper, and though he makes open shots, he isn't coming off screens 24 feet away, nor is he adept at using ball screens for deep jumpers. Learning to come off screens for jump shots and using ball screens are NBA skills that take years to perfect.
Another thing he lacks offensively (and this is a good thing) is a shot ego. He doesn't hunt shots and isn't a high-volume guy. And, in addition to making short jumpers, he is adept at getting garbage buckets (off offensive boards, loose balls, steals, dunks in transition) thanks to his energy.
What Oladipo can really do is guard -- he's indefatigable in his intensity at the defensive end. The NBA's toughest position to defend is the point guard spot, with the high volume of touches, ball screens on those possessions and the "no touching" rules the NBA has implemented making elite lateral defenders extremely valuable. Every GM in the league watches Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and Tony Parker and imagines sticking Oladipo's great feet and size at the point defensively to counteract the shift in the league's offense. Oladipo can have the positive defensive characteristics of a Tony Allen or Eric Bledsoe. That said, while the idea of him guarding the point sounds great, what do you do if you have a point guard who can't guard big two-guards? Now Oladipo has to guard two-guards, and he could be a bit small to do that.
So who is this guy? He has some Russell Westbrook to his game, but he's not Westbrook. Is he Dwyane Wade? No, Wade is a better scorer and ball handler and all around offensive player. Wade is a superstar and there doesn't appear to be one like him in this draft. Is he the next Allen? Not likely. Allen was an elite dribble-drive ball handler in college and has become a defensive menace.
Could he be a tenacious defensive backup guard/athlete like Bledsoe? Sure. But is that the role you expect from a top-10 pick? Depends on who is doing the picking.
If you want to make him into a starting two-guard from day one and he doesn't fit your needs, you may be severely let down. Oladipo will likely be best off the ball in the half court and he will have to stretch his range as a catch-and-shoot guy.
If you believe Oladipo can be a poor man's Tony Allen (without the baggage), you love his energy, his personality and his lack of shot ego, and you are willing to admit this may be a starless draft, then take him. He may have no real definable position on offense, but will you win more games because he is on your team? I believe so.
Would I draft him? If I had an elite point guard who could create shots for him and have him float away from the basketball … absolutely.
Doug Gottlieb is a college basketball analyst for CBS Sports. A former player at Notre Dame and Oklahoma State, Gottlieb is 10th in NCAA history in assists. Watch Doug on Lead Off, weeknights at midnight ET on CBS Sports Network, and listen to him on CBS Sports Radio weekdays from 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. Follow Doug on Twitter @GottliebShow.
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