In two separate pieces for ESPN Insider, the analyst Bradford Doolittle expresses optimism that Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo will blossom in 2014/15. The runner-up to Michael Carter-Williams in the Rookie of the Year race a season ago, Oladipo enters his second season as the Magic's longest-tenured backcourt player and in a position of leadership. And, according to Doolittle, he could be on the cusp of stardom.
Doolittle says that "breakout" players tend to be in their second seasons, taking on larger responsibilities, and in their "early 20s." Oladipo ticks all three of those boxes, and is thus "a classic breakout candidate." According to the SCHOENE projection system, he compares solidly to Dwyane Wade, a perennial All-Star and future Hall-of-Famer. "The system sees across-the-board improvement for Oladipo in '14," says Doolittle. "In particular, he should be buoyed by a slash in turnover rate." All told, only Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving ranks ahead of Oladipo in Doolittle's list of breakout candidates.
Orlando used Oladipo primarily at point guard as a rookie, an experiment which yielded mixed results: he committed too many turnovers per game (3.2) compared to his assist totals (4.1) and struggled with his jumper.
Elsewhere on Insider, Doolittle projects Oladipo to rank seventh among shooting guards in Wins Above Replacement Player, which finish would place him just behind Tyreke Evans and ahead of Klay Thompson. Here, Doolittle highlights Oladipo's strong suits: "He created offense (24.6 percent usage), set up teammates (6 percent assist rate) and established himself as a potential lockdown defender."
The Magic certainly have high hopes for the versatile guard, on whom they used the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. And if Doolittle's statistically-based hunches prove correct, the team and its fans ought to be delighted with his progress in the season ahead.