Coming into his first NBA season, the buzz surrounding No. 2 overall draft pick Victor Oladipo centered mostly on his commitment to putting defensive pressure on perimeter players and his ability to thrill crowds with his athleticism off the bounce and on the fast break. It is possible, however, that Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams did not hear this buzz; he is a busy man, after all. How kind, then, for the Orlando Magic rookie to turn it up for D-Will during the fourth quarter of their Sunday matchup in Central Florida:
I think Deron can hear it now.
If you think that looked kind of familiar, well, bully for you, Teddy Roosevelt — clearly, you remember Oladipo's work against Illinois from the 2013 Big Ten Tournament:
Pretty uncanny resemblance, there.
The steal, spin and slam punctuated an 8-0 Magic run that, coming on the heels of a pair of big third-quarter bursts (a 17-4 stretch to start the second half, an 11-4 jolt near the end of the third), gave Jacque Vaughn's young team a comfortable advantage that they'd hold onto, notching an impressive 107-86 home win and spoiling Brooklyn head coach Jason Kidd's regular-season NBA coaching debut after completing a two-game suspension for pleading guilty to charges of driving while impaired.
Orlando center Nikola Vucevic notched his second double-double in four games this season, scoring 19 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, but it was rookie Oladipo — 19 points on 8 for 13 shooting, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and that spectacular throwdown in just 21 1/2 minutes — who stole the show. From Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:
With Orlando ahead 61-52 but Brooklyn making a charge, Oladipo played a direct role in the Magic's next 10 points.
After Nicholson hit a short hook early in the fourth quarter, Oladipo scored six consecutive points: a driving reverse layup, a pull-up jumper from 18 feet and then his 360-degree dunk.
The dunk catapulted the announced crowd of 15,297 out of their seats and onto their feet.
If Oladipo felt intimidated by facing [Kevin] Garnett, Paul Pierce and Williams, it didn't show.
"You just go out there and play basketball," Oladipo said. "I'm competitive just like they are. I want to win it just as bad as they do. Eventually, I want to be a potential Hall of Famer just like them."
We're a long way away from that, of course; the "make Victor a point guard" experiment continues to wobble at times (seven turnovers on Sunday, 18 cough-ups against 16 assists through four games), and he, like every perimeter defender, will find himself on the business end of highlights, too (as he did when he got crossed up by Paul Pierce in the third quarter on Sunday). For right now, though, Oladipo and the rest of Vaughn's young charges are playing .500 ball, 2-0 at home, looking feistier than many anticipated and giving the Amway Center faithful new things to cheer about, one steal and runout at a time.
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