TrueHoop: Victor Oladipo

TrueHoop TV: Oladipo you don't know

October, 26, 2013
10/26/13
1:28
AM ET
Gutierrez By Israel Gutierrez
ESPN.com
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Israel Gutierrez explains the Magic guard who might be the NBA's most interesting rookie.

Orlando Summer League: Final Judgments

July, 12, 2013
7/12/13
7:36
PM ET
By Jordan White
ESPN.com
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Here are some farewell takes from Friday's last day of the Orlando Pro Summer League:

Top Performers

Victor Oladipo, Magic

Rookies aren’t supposed to be this poised, this polished. They’re not supposed to display a defensive savoir faire far beyond their young years, and they’re certainly not supposed to be as comfortable taking the shot to win the game as they are the one to open it. And yet, Oladipo is all of these things. He wasn’t perfect in Orlando, with turnovers plaguing him in every game, but every other aspect of his game was either as good as advertised or better. Averaging 19 points, five assists and three steals per game while shooting 53 percent from deep and 82 percent from the line, Oladipo’s only main areas of worry were his oddly low field goal percentage (37 percent) and his turnovers (nearly five per game, which is to be expected of a rookie just now learning the point guard position).

Kelly Olynyk, Celtics
Will he be able to get his shot off against NBA-caliber athletes? Can he rebound dependably despite his Tyrannosaurus Rex-rivaling wingspan? Will he be anything more than a complete liability on defense? While Olynyk might not have completely eased these concerns, he’s well along the path to doing so after his stellar week in Orlando. Olynyk did so much more than just score the ball (though he did that, too, quite a bit); he rebounded very well, averaging eight rebounds per game -- fourth overall out of all players -- and displayed surprising court vision. His defense, specifically his lack of strength, will be a hindrance, but it wasn’t as if he was a total sieve on that end of the floor.

Solomon Hill, Pacers

Give credit to Indiana’s draft strategy: Hill might have been a reach, but he was the player they wanted, so they took him regardless of where he was projected to go. Likewise, credit must also go to Hill for coming here and outperforming the expectations many had for him. The Pacers rookie was tremendously efficient this week, averaging 14.5 points on just 9.5 shots per game and shooting 55 percent from beyond the arc. As I wrote in Thursday’s dispatch, his shooting is going to be the key to him finding the floor in Frank Vogel’s offense.

Andre Drummond, Pistons
Drummond’s averages of 15 points, 15 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game were effortless -- even a little underwhelming -- as nobody could hope to match his gargantuan blend of mass and athleticism. One cause for concern -- though certainly not a new one -- was Drummond’s putrid production from the free throw line. He shot just 23 percent from the charity stripe in his three games. Presumably, Detroit sent Drummond to summer league to further polish his game in a competitive setting against something at least resembling NBA talent. But Drummond was so thoroughly dominant, his size so wholly overwhelming, that one has to wonder if he really got anything out of this week.

Terrence Jones, Rockets
Jones used his time in Houston to make the case to his onlooking coach and general manager that he deserves more playing time and a larger role with the Rockets. Supporting Jones’ argument were his 16 points and seven rebounds per game, 36 percent shooting from beyond the arc and terrific defense in the paint and on the perimeter. He was aggressive, yet under control, assertive, but rarely forcing the issue. If his improved dribbling, face-up game and shooting prove to be more than just summer sizzle, Jones will be a valuable contributor to an already exciting Houston team.

Maurice Harkless, Magic
This final spot was a tough choice between Harkless and Jeremy Lamb of Oklahoma City, but Harkless takes the trophy because of the noticeable myriad improvements to his game. Last season, per MySynergySports.com, Harkless scored just .59 points per play as the ball handler in pick-and-roll situations. Look for that number to improve, as Harkless’ improved handles and strengthened frame -- as well as the Magic’s emphasis on putting him in these situations during this week -- have made him a much better operator off the bounce. Harkless was noticeably more comfortable as a ball handler this week, which bodes well for him and the Magic offense as a whole.

Surprises

Dwight Buycks, Thunder

Inevitably, every summer league sees one player who rises from obscurity to prominence. In Orlando, that player was Buycks. Bursting onto the scene with a 12-point, 13-assist performance in Game 1, Buycks was tremendous for Oklahoma City on both ends of the ball, running the pick-and-roll to perfection and hounding opposing ball handlers. He averaged 9.5 points, six assists and two steals per game while shooting 48 percent from the floor (albeit on an average of just six attempts), and his production did not go unnoticed: Buycks recently signed a deal with the Toronto Raptors.

Daniel Orton, Thunder

Not long ago, Orton was written off as yet another young, raw big man who, for some reason or another, never reached his full potential. Maybe he never will reach that potential, but he’s at least back on the right track after his performance this week. Orton, was both aggressive and active, dunking at nearly every opportunity and challenging shots both inside and out. The biggest concern for him is conditioning, as Orton struggled to sustain that high level of energy for very long and was visibly winded after six or seven minutes of play.

Ian Clark, Heat
Like many college shooting guards who find themselves undersized to play the position in the NBA, Clark had to shift over to point guard if he was to make his mark in the NBA. While he might have averaged just one assist per game, his attacking style on both offense and defense very much fits the Miami Heat mold of point guard. Clark was also one of the top scorers in Orlando, averaging 16 points per contest.

Disappointment

Michael Carter-Williams, 76ers
Nobody expected Carter-Williams to come in and dominate summer league; his current strengths and weaknesses as a player don’t lend themselves to such performances. At the same time, no one expected him to be one of the worst players in Orlando. Shooting a measly 27 percent from the floor, turning the ball over at an alarming rate and complaining to the refs after every no-call, Carter-Williams had a miserable week. Perhaps the one silver lining to be found in this grey cloud of inefficiency is that now the organization can pinpoint the exact areas in which they need to develop their young point guard.

Orlando Summer League: What to watch

July, 5, 2013
7/05/13
3:48
PM ET
By D.J. Foster
ESPN.com
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Steven Freeman/NBAE/GEtty ImagesMost head coaches let their assistants handle summer league, but Jason Kidd will coach the Nets.


On Sunday, basketball will return in its most unfiltered form. That's right, it's time for summer league in Orlando.

This event has long acted as a fix for NBA junkies, but in an effort to create a little more mass appeal, a champion will be crowned on the final day.

While this may be the only time of year fans can say things like “The Orlando Magic are going to win the championship!” and not get laughed at, the pull of summer league has always been the chance to get a first look at future NBA contributors and stars. With that in mind, here are five things to watch in Orlando:

Victor Oladipo and the Great Point Guard Experiment
Ever since he was selected with the second pick in the draft, there’s been a little ambiguity added to Victor Oladipo’s future. When asked whether Oladipo was a point guard or shooting guard, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan told the Orlando Sentinel, “We see him as a guard.”

It’s all a little odd, mainly because you rarely see teams create combo guards, both in perception and reality. Of course, it’s also interesting because in no way does Oladipo fit the profile of a natural point guard. In three seasons at Indiana, he totaled more turnovers than assists and often looked like he was dribbling one of those super bouncy balls you get for a quarter.

Still, it’s important to remember that disaster is only temporary in summer league. It’s very well possible that Oladipo struggles to run the point and takes his lumps, but it’s more important for Orlando to get a sense of what their prized pick is capable of in different scenarios. There’s no better time than summer league to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks.

Follow the leader?
If you had to handicap the rookie of the year race, Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke is probably the early front-runner. When talent meets fit and opportunity, good things tend to happen.

It also doesn’t hurt that six of the last eight rookie of the year winners have been ball-dominant guards. Burke should have the rock an awful lot in Utah, and Orlando will offer a sneak peek at how he uses it. Will Burke look to score every night, or will he focus on facilitating?

Maybe the most appealing part of Burke’s game is his ability to do both in the pick-and-roll, and in Orlando, he’ll have a few very intriguing dance partners.

Remember Jeremy Evans? The guy who jumped over a picture of himself dunking? He’ll be there, and so will rookie big man Rudy Gobert, who might be Mark Eaton reincarnated. Gobert’s standing reach and wingspan were the highest ever recorded in draft history, so Burke will be hard-pressed to miss his roll man as long as he throws the ball up really, really high.

Michael Carter-Williams and Holidays
Many rookies will fill the shoes of veterans, but very few will be asked to step in and take over for 23-year-old All-Stars.

That’s what Michael Carter-Williams is faced with in Philadelphia, as he’ll look to become the new franchise point guard in Jrue Holiday’s stead.

Running a team slapped together of players all trying to stand out can be tricky, but luckily for Carter-Williams, he can lean on a summer league veteran by the name of ... Holiday.

That’s right. Even though Jrue is in New Orleans, his older brother Justin will play with Philadelphia’s summer league team and act as Carter-Williams’ sidekick on the wing.

Some fans may be upset about the cold realties of rebuilding and Jrue Holiday being a casualty of it, but here’s the good news: If Justin makes the team this year and chooses the number 11, the old Philly tradition of using duct tape and a permanent marker to keep a jersey relevant can be skipped over for a year. And hey, Will Bynum is still a free agent …

The Heat double-dip
Would summer league technically count as one of the Miami Heat’s seven championships LeBron James promised upon his arrival? No?

Well, give Miami credit for trying, as the Heat will be the only team in the NBA to play in both the Orlando and Las Vegas summer leagues. The extended look at a few young players like second-round draft pick James Ennis and undrafted guys like Jackie Carmichael and Myck Kabongo could be big for a team that will eventually have to get a little younger. Juwan Howard won’t be around forever – or at least we think he won’t.

New Kidd
After grinding out 82 games a year for 19 seasons, most guys would probably want to take a break from it all. Relax. Maybe go fishing. But after Jason Kidd retired, there was no sleep till Brooklyn.

While other head coaches watch the spectacle from a distance and let their assistants play ringmaster, Kidd will jump right into the fray and coach the Nets in Orlando, using the time as an opportunity to get in all the reps as a head coach that he possibly can.

Summer league is often used as a development tool for players and referees, but for the first time in a long time, we'll get a view of how a high-profile coach might roam the sidelines. Will he stomp his feet at shooters like Vinny Del Negro? Will he use a timeout during the first possession of the game like Jacque Vaughn? Is he a guy who likes to stay seated like Phil Jackson, or is he a nervous towel-biter like Jerry Tarkanian? NBA fans go to know Kidd over nearly two decades, and now they'll get to do it again.


Who fits next to Dwight Howard?
The purpose of summer league isn't always to find the best players, but rather to find the best fit. A guy can score 35 points a night (like Josh Selby did in Las Vegas last year), but if he doesn't show that he can slide into a role at the NBA level, the points end up being just as important as they are on "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"

The objective for the members of Houston's summer league team changed drastically once Dwight Howard decided to become a Rocket. Demonstrating slash-and-kick skills is no longer as important as delivering a solid post entry pass or defending well on the perimeter to insure that Howard doesn't have to be relied on as a one-man defense like he was in Los Angeles.

Returning frontcourt players Greg Smith and Terrence Jones could stand to show off a little range and high-post passing skills, while dynamite guard Patrick Beverley could endear himself to his coaching staff by suffocating ballhandlers. Rookies guards like Isaiah Canaan, B.J. Young and Vander Blue need to show they can consistently knock down the open 3-pointers Howard will undoubtedly create.

For contenders like Miami, Oklahoma City, Indiana and Brooklyn, the objective during the six days in Orlando was always to find a complementary piece to a championship puzzle. With Dwight now on board, the same is true for Houston.

Bennett leads class of international flavor

June, 28, 2013
6/28/13
12:29
AM ET
By ESPN Stats & Info
ESPN.com
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Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty ImagesUNLV’s Anthony Bennett waves to the crowd after his selection as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
With the first pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked everyone.

Anthony Bennett of UNLV is headed to Cleveland, becoming the second player from UNLV to be selected No. 1 overall (1991 Larry Johnson).

Bennett, a power forward listed at 6-foot-8, 240 pounds, was the highest-selected Canadian-born player in the Common Draft era, going higher than future Cavaliers teammate Tristan Thompson (4th overall in 2011).

It's the fourth straight year a college freshman has been selected with the first overall pick: John Wall in 2010, Kyrie Irving in 2011, Anthony Davis in 2012 and Bennett this year.

At No. 2, the Orlando Magic selected Victor Oladipo, who became the first Indiana player picked in the top five since Isiah Thomas went No. 2 overall in 1981.

Two picks later, the Charlotte Bobcats took Oladipo’s Indiana teammate, Cody Zeller. It's the highest Indiana teammates have gone in draft history.

Sandwiched between those picks was Georgetown's Otto Porter Jr., who stayed local and was selected by the Washington Wizards. He's the first Georgetown player selected in the top five since 2007.

Maryland's Alex Len rounded out the top five, going to the Phoenix Suns. He's the highest-drafted player from Maryland since Steve Francis went second overall in 1999.

After Len, Nerlens Noel finally came off the board with the sixth pick, to the New Orleans Pelicans, but his rights were sent to the Philadelphia 76ers in a proposed trade that would send All-Star guard Jrue Holiday to New Orleans. Noel was the 11th Kentucky player to go in the first round since 2010.

Other notable picks included Michigan point guard Trey Burke, selected ninth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves, but was then traded to Utah for the 14th overall pick (Shabazz Muhammad) and 21st overall (Gorgui Dieng).

Tim Hardaway Jr., also out of Michigan, was selected 24th overall by the Knicks. It’s the first time since 1994 that two Michigan players were drafted in the first round (Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose).

Hardaway’s father, Tim, played 13 seasons in the NBA. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that in each of the last 12 NBA drafts at least one son of a former NBA player has been selected.

After beginning with a player born outside the United States, the first round ended with one as well: Nemanja Nedovic of Serbia. A total of 12 players born outside the United States were picked in the first round, the most ever according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The previous record was 11 in 2011.

OTHER NOTABLES
• C.J. McCollum, 10th overall to Portland, was the first Lehigh player ever drafted.

• Steven Adams, 12th overall to Oklahoma City, became the first Pittsburgh player drafted in the first round since 1999 (Vonteego Cummings).

• Shane Larkin, 18th overall to Atlanta (rights traded to Dallas), was the highest drafted player from Miami (FL) in the Common Draft era.

• With his selection as the 22nd overall pick by the Brooklyn Nets, Mason Plumlee helped elevate the family name to rare heights. His brother, Miles, was taken in the first round last year; the Plumlees joined the Zellers (Tyler and Cody) and the Grants (Horace & Harvey) as the third pair of brothers to be picked in the first round of consecutive years in the Common Draft Era.

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