Magic’s Victor Oladipo knows rebuilding projects well
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Victor Oladipo is already working toward next season.
The NBA’s No. 2 draft pick couldn’t prepare any other way. He’s getting used to his new job, getting ready to embark on another major rebuilding project and can’t wait to make his pro debut in the same state where he played college basketball the last three seasons.
“I can only imagine how that’s going to be,” Oladipo said Saturday when asked about Orlando opening the season at Indianapolis in October. “That’s going to be surreal.”
Oladipo and another ex-Hoosier, D.J. White, came back to Bloomington to serves as counselors at Indiana coach Tom Crean’s annual Basketball ProCamp. Roughly 300 young basketball players attended.
And this time, Oladipo was clearly the feature attraction.
“It’s truly like he never left,” Crean said. “When I could hear him all the way from my office through all kinds of walls and doors downstairs, I realized he was truly back home. You realize how much you miss that energy and that charisma.”
Hoosiers fans will miss his skills on the court even more.
Oladipo and center Cody Zeller, the No. 4 pick in June’s draft, helped Indiana dig its way out from rock bottom over the past two seasons.
Now, in Orlando, Oladipo is starting all over.
At 20-62, the Magic had the NBA’s worst record last season, and they’ll start this season with one of the league’s youngest teams and one of the league’s youngest coaches. So at age 21, Oladipo becomes the cornerstone of yet another major rebuilding effort as he tries to make the transition from college swingman to NBA point guard.
“Being everybody’s doormat isn’t fun,” Oladipo said. “They say it’s a rebuilding process in Orlando. If it is, I’m well-prepared for it, because I guarantee it’s nowhere near the rebuilding we had to do here. We were at the bottom of bottoms. It was ridiculous. We have a lot of good players this year in Orlando, a decent amount of young, great players and vets. I think we’re going to do better than people think we’re going to do.”
Oladipo is already doing his part.
Known as a tireless worker during his college days, Oladipo averaged 19.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds during four impressive games on Orlando’s summer league team, and he hasn’t stopped yet.
White, meanwhile, was one of the many basketball stars who preceded Oladipo at Indiana.
But after five NBA seasons with Oklahoma City, Charlotte and Boston and a short stop in Shanghai, China, last season, White is looking for a new team. He was included in this summer’s blockbuster Celtics-Nets trade, only to be waived by the Nets in a cost-cutting move.
“I’m talking to a couple teams. I’ve got different offers back in China. I’m just weighing my options, taking my time,” White said. “Hopefully in the next couple weeks, I’ll decide what I’m going to do.”
But back at Indiana, White and Oladipo feel at home and Crean enjoys bringing the ex-players back to teach the young players how to play the game.
“It does put things into perspective and context,” Crean said. “It really is a lot of fun. There are a lot of young people who would never get to be a part of Indiana basketball without this camp.”