In his first NBA season, Victor Oladipo faced a nearly impossible task: to play a major role on a rebuilding club while--if not outright transitioning to--then at least learning the finter points of arguably the sport's toughest position. And he had to do so as the Orlando Magic's most heralded rookie in nearly a decade.
And though his rookie season had its share of rough moments, the Indiana product mostly acquitted himself. In 80 appearances, the combo guard averaged 13.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per game on 51.4 percent True Shooting. All told, he ranks as one of the most productive Orlando rookies in the team's 25-year history, no mean feat for a team which has produced two Rookie of the Year winners and served as a launching pad for several long and productive pro careers.
Most impressively, Oladipo showed signs of improvement even as the year wore on, never quite hitting the so-called "rookie wall." The example that best illustrates Oladipo's commitment to growth is his three-point shooting. Derided as a weakness of his during the lead-up to the 2013 NBA Draft, that statistic ticked up after the All-Star Break as the Maryland native began to punish opposing defenses for going under ball-screens or otherwise leaving him unattended on the perimeter: Oladipo connected on 38 percent of his triple-tries--making one per game--in his final 26 appearances, up from 0.9 makes on 30.3 percent shooting beforehand.
For an example of how a lead guard's turning a weak outside shot into a strength, look no further than John Wall, the Washington Wizards' franchise cornerstone. The Kentucky product shot 108-of-308 (35.1 percent) from deep in his most recent season, up from 49-of-202 (24.3 percent) in his first three pro campaigns. In part as a result of his addition of a reliable three-pointer, Washington scored 104.6 points per 100 possessions with Wall on the floor, according to NBA.com/stats, a figure which would have ranked 14th in the league in the 2013/14 season; the Magic scored 99.3 points per 100 possessions overall, finishing second-to-last.
But this post is less about projecting a possible future and more about appreciating the recent past. What expectations did you have for Oladipo going into the season? In which ways did he meet those expectations and in which ways did he come up short? And the key question, as the title of this post attests: where would you rank him among the Magic's all-time best rookies? Let's hear it in the comments.