Top backcourt prospects: Victor Oladipo

Joe Robbins

Is Victor Oladipo the real deal, or was his junior year at Indiana just a fluke?

In today's NBA, the prototypical shooting guard is a streamlined slasher that consistently hits 3-pointers and locks down positions one through three with ease. He should have impressive length, elite athleticism, and a motor that causes havoc on both ends of the floor. Indiana's Victor Oladipo was all of the above last season.

The 21-year-old shooting guard is an incredible physical specimen: He's 6'4", sports a 6'9" wingspan and thrilled scouts with a dominant display of athletic ability at the NBA Draft Combine. It's not every day you see a player with a 42" max vertical leap bench press 185 lbs 15 times.

His statistics are equally impressive. Among DraftExpress' Top 100 prospects, Oladipo ranked 5th in field goal percentage at 59.9 percent and was the only guard in the top 25. Furthermore, he ranked 7th in 3-point field goal percentage at 44.1 percent.

But that isn't to say he's a surefire superstar; there are some blatant weaknesses in his game and most scouts are skeptical of his dramatic improvement over the years. Oladipo has always shown great potential, but few people expected him to improve this much this quickly. Was his last season a fluke?

Ola, Oladipo!

Oladipo is not a fun name to spell, but boy, is it fun to say. Our lovely Ben Swanson likes to say his name to the tune of Jay-Z's "Hola' Hovito". I apologize for getting that stuck in your head.

Jokes aside, Oladipo's calling card has long been his defensive intensity and athleticism. There's no question about them. Oladipo gives 110 percent on every possession and is capable of incredible and unexpected athletic feats. Michigan Wolverines head coach John Beilein once remarked, "I don't know whether I've seen one quicker or faster, more athletic, than Oladipo."

And Oladipo puts his athleticism to good use. He smothers offensive players in ways similar to Tony Allen and Avery Bradley. He doesn't let his man breathe (not literally), and he uses his hands well to create turnovers without compromising his position.

He's also notorious for being a gym rat. That's a common tag attached to many prospects and in turn it's difficult to determine who the hardest workers actually are. Well, Oladipo is among the hardest workers in this year's NBA Draft. After barely missing what seemed like an impossible alley-oop, Oladipo told reporters that he needed to do more squats. He wasn't joking.

And that's the thing about Oladipo. He works hard and the results of his hard work are apparent, but his improvement almost seems too good to be true. He shot just 20.8 percent from behind the 3-point line during his sophomore year. His 3-point field goal percentage shot up over 20 percentage points in one season. He did average 1.9 attempts per game, however, and it's no secret that Oladipo worked on his shot. But a 20 percent increase in one season? Seems fishy to me.

Oladipo is also somewhat limited offensively. He's not a terrific scorer despite his efficiency. Oladipo's 19.2 points per 40 minutes came mostly from transition buckets, backdoor cuts, spot-up jumpers and hustle plays, as he's limited when it comes to creating his own offense. It should be noted that he's improved quite a bit in this area, but still has a long way to go if he's ever expected to be a first or second option.

I'll sum up Oladipo for you. At this point he's comparable to a low-usage Leandro Barbosa on offense and Avery Bradley on defense.

Fit with the Bobcats

Let's not beat around the bush. If the Bobcats select Oladipo, it's likely that Gerald Henderson is gone. They're somewhat similar, although Henderson is much better right now. Holding onto two young shooting guards deserving of starters' minutes isn't a good idea.

What really intrigues me about selecting Oladipo is his pairing with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. They're both unbelievably athletic and excellent defenders. And if Oladipo is really a serviceable 3-point shooter, the floor opens up for Kidd-Gilchrist and for that matter, Kemba Walker. Three super fun speed demons with heart and intensity.

A common concern with Oladipo is that he's already reached his potential. I don't think that's true at all. He's improved every season, and even if his junior year was an outlier, it's hard to deny that he's still improved a lot. Oladipo's not as much of a project as other prospects in the top 10, but that comes with him being two years older than most of them.

He'd fit pretty well with the Bobcats. He's young, athletic, and by all accounts is a good kid and hard worker. He's probably not a franchise-changing talent, but he's an excellent glue guy at the very least.

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