Rob Foldy/USA TODAY
In the 2013 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic selected guard Victor Oladipo with the second overall pick. He is a combo guard who succeeded in college due to his intense athleticism and defensive prowess. It’s a description that could have been applied to another player coming out of college 10 years ago, Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade.
When the Heat drafted Dwyane Wade in 2003, they knew they were getting a combo guard as well and experimented with him as their point guard during his rookie season. That is something the Orlando has tried with Oladipo this season. At point guard, Oladipo can be compared to the Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, but as a shooting guard he can be compared to Dwyane Wade.
Let’s take a look at how similar both Oladipo and Wade are in their rookie seasons.
This season, Victor Oladipo’s points per 36 minutes average is 15.4 points. That’s very close to Dwyane Wade’s 16.8 points per 36 minutes average. However, the thing Oladipo is lacking is not scoring, it’s his shooting percentages. In Wade’s rookie season, he connected on 46.5 percent of his field goal attempts, compared to Oladipo’s 40.7 percent.
Oladipo has also struggled from beyond the arc, connecting on only 29.1 percent of his 3-point attempts. When it comes to 3-point shots, though, Dwyane Wade is proof that you don’t need to have a three-point shot to be a star in the NBA. In his rookie season, Oladipo has already attempted 110 three-point shots, which is already more three’s than Wade has attempted in any of his first six seasons. And what is Wade’s career three point percentage? 29.1 percent.
The reason Dwyane Wade has thrived without a reliable three-point shot is because of his ability to get to the basket and finish. Oladipo is still developing that skill.
One category that Oladipo and Wade were similar in was their ability to get to the free throw line. Oladipo does a good job of drawing fouls and is shooting 4.9 free throws per 36 minutes. It helps him get easy points when his jump shot isn’t falling. Getting to the line is something Wade has made a career of. Wade averaged 5.3 free throws per 36 minutes in his rookie season, quite similar to Victor Oladipo this season.
When playing point guard, which both Wade and Oladipo have done as rookies, creating opportunities for your teammates becomes just as important as hitting your own shots. Much like scoring, Oladipo fell short to Dwyane Wade in passing. The gap is close, though, with Wade averaging 4.7 assists per 36 minutes and Oladipo averaging 4.2 assists per 36 minutes.
In addition, they both had trouble taking care of the ball in their rookie season. Wade averaged 3.3 turnovers and Oladipo is averaging an even worse 3.7 turnovers. If a 2:1 assists to turnover ratio is considered ideal for a point guard, both Wade and Oladipo fell well short of that benchmark.
There is an upside to all this for Magic fans, though. If Oladipo follows Wade’s footsteps, Orlando will see a greatly improved Oladipo in his second season. Wade improved his play-making ability during his second season, increasing his assist rate to 6.3 per 36 minutes. He also kept his turnovers relatively stable at 3.9.
Wade has never been a true point guard, but he has become a more than capable creator for a championship winning team. With more minutes and more reps, it’s not hard to envision Oladipo doing the same thing.
Defense is where Oladipo and Wade become too similar. First, let’s take a look at how Wade did in his rookie season. He averaged 1.5 steals and 0.6 blocks per 36 minutes.
Victor Oladipo matched him at that, averaging 1.5 steals and 0.7 blocks per 36 minutes. Although Wade committed slightly less fouls, 2.4 versus Oladipo’s 2.8, Oladipo has done a better job on the defensive rebounding. Oladipo is averaging 4.3 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes, much higher than Dwyane Wade’s 2.7. At 6-foot-4, both players use their superior athleticism and strength to terrorize opposing teams.
Victor Oladipo definitely has the potential to follow in Dwyane Wade’s footsteps. Although they are not guaranteed, Oladipo’s ceiling is yearly all-star appearances, MVP votes and multiple NBA championships. Wade went from being a point guard to a shooting guard as his career progressed because his scoring ability was way more advanced than his creation skills.
Although Oladipo will most likely play his best ball at shooting guard, he will never become an elite player in this league if he doesn’t become a more efficient scorer.
The two players have lots of similarities. Dwyane Wade entered the NBA as a potential superstar, with tremendous athletic skills and leaping abilities. Up to now, Oladipo is showing that he possesses similar skills, maybe to a slightly lower scale, but he is close. Wade also entered the league as not a great shooter, especially from three-point range and neither Oladipo is the classic sharpshooter.
Although the Orlando Magic are tanking for yet another season, Oladipo is always drawing much interest from fans and analysts around the league. It’s not too much to say that in a couple of seasons and as he grows as a player, Oladipo can become the next Dwyane Wade.
Of course, the Magic will need to surround him with the right complementary pieces so that they increase their chances to become competitive once again. At the moment, they seem to be on the right track but of course we can expect them to make some significant moves and trades soon.
Wade has become arguably the best blocking guard in the history of the game. He has made his name as a defensive wall when it comes to getting blocks. It is no doubt that Oladipo showcases that same talent every night. If this young, talented Victor Oladipo continues to improve and become better, he could see himself at Wade’s level someday.