Published June 28, 2013
ORLANDO, Fla. – For Victor Oladipo, the Orlando Magic's first-round draft choice, the comparisons to Dwyane Wade are inevitable, and a little over the top.
"I don't know whether it's fair or it's just because Tom Crean is my coach," Oladipo said Friday, the day after Orlando took him second overall in the NBA draft. "We have similar parts to our game. I'm just trying to be the best Victor Oladipo possible."
Wade played for Crean at Marquette before being drafted fifth overall by the Miami Heat in 2003 and going on to NBA stardom. Oladipo, who played three years at Indiana for Crean, is about an inch shorter, but similarly athletic and tenacious.
"I'm not big on comparisons because it's not fair to Dwyane," Crean said. "Dwyane's one of the best players in the world, and Victor just turned 21. When it comes to the kind of people that they are, the kind of teammates they are, the way they made their teammates better, (the comparison) is huge.
"Dwyane came in with much more of a scorer's mindset than Victor had," added Crean. "Victor didn't come with a scorer's mindset; he came in with energy, a get-to-the-rim, defensive mindset, and he became so much more of a scorer."
Oladipo averaged 13.6 points in his final season at Indiana and 10.7 over three years, modest numbers for the No. 2 pick in the draft. He has never considered himself a scorer.
"Growing up, (playing defense) was pretty much all I could do," he said. "My family and my coaches can attest to that. I had no other skill. For me to stay on the court, I had to play defense. So I was willing to guard the other team's best offensive player just for me to be on the floor. And of course I wanted to win. It's why I am here today."
Coming off a 20-62 season, the Magic are open about which backcourt position Oladipo will play. They want him to play like he played at Indiana.
"When we sat down with him it became apparent that he's about what we want to be about," said general manager Rob Hennigan. "He views the game how we want players to view the game. He has a sense of urgency and intensity that will bode well for him and us."
Even in considering Oladipo's position, the comparison with Wade came up.
"What we did with him is what I did with Dwyane Wade his last year," Crean said. "Dwyane played 32 minutes a game and about six of those minutes were at the point because he needed to have that in his system. And Miami actually drafted him as a point guard.
"There's no question Victor Oladipo is a guard, but we needed him on the offensive boards. He's just such a basketball player that you don't want to take his strengths away from him, but building that strength of being able to run an offense is something we were very conscious of."
It is at the defensive end of the floor that the comparison is most valid. Crean said Wade and Oladipo are the only players he has coached to average more than 12 deflections in a game for a season. Oladipo also set a school record with 78 steals and was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. It vaulted him up the draft charts.
"A year ago, nobody was saying one word about me and nobody really knew who I was," he said. "I know where I've come from. I know what kind of background that I come from. At the end of the day, accolades are nice, but if you don't produce it can all be taken from you in a second."