Victor Oladipo’s Second Half Surge: Fool’s Gold?

Apr 3, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo (5) signals for a play in the fourth quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at Amway Center. The Orlando Magic won 119-107. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo (5) signals for a play in the fourth quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at Amway Center. The Orlando Magic won 119-107. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /

For the second season in a row Victor Oladipo has stepped up his game in a big way after the All-Star break. Is this time for real?

Victor Oladipo has been a source of contention between Orlando Magic fans this season. Early on, Oladipo struggled mightily and many fans were throwing Oladipo in the trash and were ready to move on with improved 2-guard Evan Fournier.

Now, with the season nearing its end, Victor Oladipo is on a tear and the fans are flocking back to him. Before Oladipo’s concussion suffered last Friday against the Miami Heat (an injury that likely ends his season), he was playing much better basketball. His numbers are up, and recently the Magic have been winning games as well.

However, Oladipo performed much this same act last season. Oaldipo’s numbers surged in the second half of the season and most people (including myself) believed Oladipo to be on course for an All-Star selection this season.

So is this year’s second half surge fools gold?

Last year Oladipo averaged 20.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game on 42.5 percent shooting and 33.6 percent from deep after the All-Star Break. The Magic went 8-18 during that stretch.

This season after the All-Star Break, Oladipo is averaging 19.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game on 47.4 percent shooting and 35.1 percent from deep. The Magic are currently 11-16 during that stretch.

So the raw numbers here are relatively similar. Digging into the percentages deeper, the numbers for this season’s second-half surge seem more impressive.

Digging deeper into the numbers Oladipo’s usage rate was at 26.3 percent last year compared to this season’s 22.7 percent. So the numbers suggest Oladipo was forcing the action a lot more on offense last year than this year.

Other factors need to be considered in Oladipo’s second-half surge this year as well.

Coaching is the first thing that sticks out, the Magic last season were trotting out interim head coach James Borrego as their coach compared to Scott Skiles. These coaches have completely contrasting styles. Last season, Borrego rolled out lineups with Dewayne Dedmon and Nikola Vucevic starting side by side in an attempt to play a slow-it-down, grind-it-out half-court game.

Compare that to Orlando’s second-half strategy under Scott Skiles this season. The Magic are playing uptempo basketball and are trying to avoid half-court offense as much as possible.

This uptick in tempo is quite possibly one of the biggest reasons Oladipo has been so successful in the second half of the season. With Aaron Gordon at the four and Evan Fournier at the three, opposed to Dewayne Dedmon at the four and Tobias Harris at the three, the Magic are a much more athletic team and are capable of running teams out of the gym.

Oladipo, being the natural athlete he is, has taken advantage of this new tempo. His efficiency has risen, largely in part to his increased percentages at the rim. Victor is shooting 64.2 percent in the restricted area this year since the All-Star Break. Last season he shot 52.9 percent in the restricted area post All-Star Break.

Now those number do not necessarily correlate to the pace at which the Magic are playing, but there are numbers that support it.

According to, last season Oladipo took 33.4 percent of his shots post-All Star while the shot clock was between 24 and 15 seconds. This season that number has jumped up to 41 percnet. Nearly across the board Oladipo’s shooting percentages have jumped. You can compare them in depth here and here.

With style of play accounted for, it is fair to say this is not the lone reason for Oladipo’s improvement. Oladipo has shown quite a few important developments in the second half of this season as well.

His improvement at the rim is not just due to getting better looks on offense. Oladipo is finishing in traffic much more effectively than he did last season. The game is slowing down for him, and you can see it when he goes up in traffic.

The type of moves he is pulling off mid air look much more controlled and less like he is just trying to turn the corner and beat his man to the basket with his speed.

The stats show Oladipo is up in all areas of field goal percentage with players attached to his hip. On his two-point field goals, Oladipo has an a 46 percent field goal percentage with an opponent less than two feet away from him this season compared to 44 percent last year. A bigger jump is with guys between 2-4 feet, his effective field goal percentage has increased from 43.4 percent to 50.5 percent.

Adding even more to his value, Oladipo has played the best defense of his entire career by a wide margin. David Iwanowski did a great job of highlighting Victor Oladipo’s pick and roll defense recently.

Overall, Oladipo’s confidence has soared on defense, and he has matched up well with players such as LeBron James and DeMar DeRozan. His foot speed is very good and his anticipation is improving rapidly.

Overall, Oladipo’s second-half surge this year is far more real than last season’s surge.

While the tempo undoubtedly has helped Oladipo out, will the Magic stick to this style of play? Aaron Gordon is undoubtedly part of the future and probably the largest contributing factor to this new pace.

In addition, Oladipo has simply improved as a player. Another year of experience has helped Oladipo further understand the nuances of scoring in the NBA.

While Oladipo undoubtedly improved in the second half of last season, there was still room for concern. Coming into this season, Oladipo had huge expectations placed on him due to last season’s surge and he did not meet them initially. Now that the Magic have found their ideal style of play, Oladipo has been given the chance to show off his improvements.

Next: Victor Oladipo's pick-and-roll defense brings hope

He has done just that and next season he should not regress far from these numbers.