In an Insider story published Friday, ESPN analyst David Thorpe explained why Orlando Magic rookie Victor Oladipo should study the game of Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade as he develops at the professional level. Oladipo drew comparisons to Wade throughout the NBA Draft process, given their similar skill sets: both guards have elite speed, which attribute helps balance their lack of a reliable outside shot. Both players have dynamite athleticism and a willingness to defend, a potentially lethal combination of skill and mental acuity. And both played collegiately under coach Tom Crean: Oladipo at Indiana and Wade at Marquette.
So what can Oladipo learn from Wade? According to Thorpe, the ability to finish is foremost among the skills the Orlando guard should pick up from the 10-time All-Star.
"It's the craft part that Oladipo needs to study the most--seeing when to speed up, when to slow down, when to try the Eurostep, etc.--because finishing at a high level requires more than just jumping high when you are shorter than 6-foot-6," says Thorpe, echoing the word "craft" he used in January to assess what Oladipo needs to improve. "Recognizing opportunities to race is also a Wade specialty, something Oladipo often misses out on in games."
In December, Oladipo mentioned varying his speed as one aspect of the game knows he must improve. He knows he can't play every possession at "100 miles an hour," as is his wont. Jacque Vaughn, his coach in Orlando, agreed.
"I think you see the best players throughout this league, they play at different paces throughout the course of the game," Vaughn said.
Thorpe is right to note that Oladipo has struggled to convert shots at the rim at times in his rookie season. Through Friday's games, he'd connected on just 52.9 percent of his shots in the restricted area, according to NBA.com/stats, which figure comes in below the league average of 59.9 percent. And per SportVU, among the 39 players who average at least six drives per game, Oladipo ranks 28th in field-goal percentage on those drives, converting 42.4 percent of his shots.
Any comparison to Wade this early in Oladipo's career runs the risk of reflecting poorly on the rookie, given that he's yet to reach Wade's level of productivity from the latter's first professional campaign. However, Oladipo can certainly draw inspiration from Wade's game. Thorpe is on the money when he indicates that Oladipo has struggled to finish, in part due to his lack of refinement at the basket. And when it comes to finishing and refinement, there are worse players from whom one can learn than Wade.