On the latest episode of the Woj Podcast, Victor Oladipo opened up about his experience with the rebuilding Orlando Magic and where things went wrong.
Victor Oladipo has been the breakout star of the 2018 season so far. The former second overall pick from the 2013 NBA Draft has finally broken through in the way everyone waited for so long.
The Orlando Magic waited a long time to see Oladipo do what he is doing now — attacking the basket at will, draining 3-pointers and competing for a Playoff spot. Oladipo is one of the most fun players in the league right now.
Of course, he is not doing that with the Magic as they envisioned when they drafted him five years ago. Orlando traded Victor Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder, hoping Serge Ibaka would be the guy ready to develop into stardom and anchor their defense. It is safe to say that move flopped.
While Oladipo did not pan out much in his lone season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he has this year with the Indiana Pacers. Oladipo is on track to earn his first All-Star bid averaging 24.9 points per game and shooting 42.8 percent from beyond the arc. It is the first time he has shot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc.
He has already made his former team in Orlando pay with 27.5 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game and 5.0 assists per game in two games. The Magic certainly are regretting their move now. They fired the guys who made it in any case in their attempt to move on.
Undoubtedly though, the failures in Orlando fueled Oladipo’s development. And possibly his experience since leaving Orlando too.
As Magic fans try to figure out what exactly went wrong with the rebuild the last five years, they will likely point to Oladipo’s development as a sure sign something was wrong internally.
On the latest episode of the Woj Pod with Adrian Wojnarowski, Oladipo revealed a little bit of why things never worked out in Orlando:
"“It was real tough,” Oladipo said on the podcast. “It was a lot of young guys trying to prove themselves. A lot of young guys trying to prove I am that guy. It was almost like we were in battle against each other when we played instead of trying to work together to try to get a win. It was tough.“But I learned a lot. I learned how to play with young players. And I learned the business of the NBA. At the end of the day, you can never get too comfortable or too satisfied with the situation you are in. As quick as it is given to you, it can be taken away as well. It was a great learning experience those three years in Orlando. It was fun and I had a great time. Everything happens for a reason. It was my time to go.”"
The Magic were loaded with young players all trying to make their way.
Tobias Harris was busy establishing his bona fides in his first full year with the team during Victor Oladipo’s rookie year. Nikola Vucevic was establishing himself as a potential All-Star in those early years. Soon Aaron Gordon would come in and search for his piece of the pie as he developed. And then Evan Fournier broke out, putting pressure on Victor Oladipo’s position and adding the shooting element so few teams had.
There were a lot of mouths to feed. And despite Rob Hennigan’s intention to have veterans to balance out the young players, the young players still ruled the roost. Undoubtedly it created a poor atmosphere as everyone fought for their own.
It was clear to see on the floor as the Magic never did better than 35 wins.
Trading Oladipo at the time still made some logical sense. Orlando was not prepared to give him a max contract extension after he averaged 16.0 points per game and shot a 48.9 percent effective field goal percentage. Oladipo showed flashes of his potential stardom in some big scoring efforts. But he was also legitimately benched during that season — the Magic’s most successful of the last five years.
Orlando had a tough decision to make financially and opted to cash in. Maybe the team needed a bit more patience.
Oladipo certainly still has a soft spot for Orlando. And Magic fans still have a soft spot for Oladipo. The amount of mentions about Oladipo after every one of his big games shows the amount of regret the Magic should have for trading him when they did. And also how much of a failure that move really was and how lost the team’s rebuild had become.
Oladipo said he would not have the breakout he has had this year without that gap year in Oklahoma City. He learned a lot from Russell Westbrook and reaching the Playoffs for the first time. It was part of his journey to get here.
He also said the team’s unstable coaching situation harmed him too. Oladipo has had five different coaches in five years. That instability made it tough for a young player to develop.
These are things everyone could suspect as the Magic failed to make significant growth from year to year. The Magic have certainly stagnated. And it feels like the team is preparing to start over with new management.
Oladipo has blossomed away from Orlando and become a breakout star. It is a lesson for the team as they begin to rebuild again.