Writer’s note: This is the first of a five-part series breaking down the potential targets for the Cavaliers with the no. 1 pick. After today’s piece the next four will appear on each Monday leading up to the draft.
Victor Oladipo is an interesting case in this year’s NBA Draft. It’s not that often that you have a Junior at the top of the draft because so often these days if you’re good enough to go that high you go early. C.J. McCollum is really the only other upperclassman who’s projected to go in the top ten. But make no mistake, Oladipo has the skills to be a top flight player.
When I first decide to do these little individual break-downs of targets for the Cavs I wasn’t going to do Oladipo. But after some thinking I just felt it would be a crime to keep him out of the discussion.
Every conversation about Oladipo starts with his outstanding defense. Despite only being 6’4” most people believe that with his length and quickness he’ll be able to guard all three perimeter positions in the big leagues. Think of a guy like Tony Allen in that respect. He really is an outstanding athlete who scored off the charts at the combine.
Offensively his game didn’t really come alive until this past season when he was very good. The best thing that I like about Oladipo’s offensive game is that he seems to understand efficient basketball. The only shots he takes are three’s and layups. That’s exactly what you want out of a guard. He understands what his game is and he sticks to it. He doesn’t try and extend beyond the things that he’s good at. And he’s very good at three’s (44.1 3PT%) and layups (64.4 2PT%) for a relatively insane 59.9 FG%.
I feel like I almost have to nitpick to find things about Oladipo that I don’t like. Part of the issue may be that Oladipo has potentially already peeked as a player. Sometimes that happens where a player makes the leap during college and then levels out and doesn’t get much better. I can’t say that I think that’s the case here. But it’s always a concern of drafting upperclassmen. So often scouts and GMs like to draft the “upside” guy over taking an established player.
The other thing with Oladipo that is a concern somewhat is that he’s really only affective on offense when the ball is in his hands. He thrives off using his quickness to take guys off the dribble, something he won’t find as easy in the pros. He was the focal point of Indiana’s offense handling the ball on every possession and really driving the car for the Hoosiers. I don’t think that most NBA teams look at Oladipo as being that type of player in the NBA especially because of his turnover issues. He averaged 3.2 TOs per 40 minutes and also turned the ball over on 21% of his possessions. (For comparisons sake: Otto Porter averaged 1.7 TOs per 40 and .11 TO/Pos.)
The Cavs certainly don’t need him to be an offense creator. We already have two perimeter players who are most effective with the ball in their hands in Kyrie and Dion. Can you play a lineup of Irving, Waiters, and Oladipo? I’m not sure that you can. He’s not really a spot-up shooter and with his turnover issues you really don’t want him handling the ball for long periods of time anyways.
So where would that leave him on the Cavs? It would have to be as a bench guy/sixth man type player, which ultimately I think would be a great role for him. Any team would be thrilled to have a guy with defensive energy like that coming off the bench who has just enough irrational confidence in his offensive game that he can be effective against a second unit in spurts. But unfortunately that’s not the type of player that you want to take with the no. 1 pick.Follow @ClevelandFlack