ORLANDO, Fla. — It was one thing for Victor Oladipo to take the floor in his first summer league game and fill up the box score with a handful of impressive stats. He stuck in 3-pointers and got to the basket with his speed and aggression.
But the nod of heads among members of the Magic coaching staff said they were just as impressed the next day when the ball was bouncing off the rim and shots weren’t falling. That’s when the No. 2 pick in the draft gave that he just might be able to play some time at point guard, as they’d hoped.
“Shooting guard, point guard, whatever you want to call me, it doesn’t matter,” Oladipo said. “I just think of myself as a guard and I’ll do whatever the coaches want me to do. I don’t want to limit myself or any possibilities with a label or a position.”
James Borrego, the Magic’s summer league head coach has put Oladipo at both backcourt spots at different times in games and has been satisfied with the results.
“I’ve thought he’s looked solid,” Borrego said. “He’s a guy that takes what the defense gives him and doesn’t try to force something that isn’t there. Teams will apply pressure and test his skill, but he’s responded well and got us into our sets. He’s been aggressive, looked for his shot and found open bodies. We put him in the pick and roll a lot to see what he could do. And overall we were very pleased with his effort.’’
Oladipo’s high energy made him a star last season at Indiana and that’s the attribute the Magic want most as a leader to ignite this young team. What he doesn’t lack is confidence and what he won’t do is back down from a challenge. He’s ready to push at his limits and try to measure up against the established scoring point guards in the league such as Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker.
“I’m up for all of it,” Oladipo said. “I’m a rookie, but all those guys were rookies once, too. Everybody’s got to start out somewhere and build their game. I just don’t want the building to take too long.”
The 6-foot-4, 215 pounder has both the speed and the size to thrive by driving to the basket, can create his own shots and can make jumpers coming off screens.
“I’ve never played [point] at any other level, so it’s a little challenging just because you don’t want them to speed you up. You’ve still got to run all the plays, but you’ve got to pick you times when to be aggressive and when not to be aggressive.
“Whatever you want me to play, I’ll play. “If you want me to come off ball screens, I’ll come off ball screens and if you want me to set up the offense I’ll set up the offense. If you want me to stand in the corner and shoot, I’ll do it because that’s how badly I want to win.’’