Today’s Fastbreak columnist Joseph Nardone remembers those crazy Victor Oladipo/Dwyane Wade comparisons, which look rather foolish right now.
People who barely follow college basketball sure love to come around during the NCAA Tournament and make the most craziest of claims. Sometimes it’s trying to force upon the idea that a guy who was ho-hum an entire season, but played mostly good in a few games in the big dance, should be a top five selection (hello, Mitch McGary truthers).
Then there’s the folks who take it to another level. You know, people who want to compare Thon Maker to Kevin Durant because of a YouTube video, every white guy to Larry Bird, every Euro to Dirk, etc. These folk will scream from the rooftops while making this comparisons. That way, if right, they can tell you how smart they are. Usually, though, they’re wrong…and we never hear about those comparisons from those people again.
Everyone needs to realize something from the outset. The NBA is a league which relies heavily upon advanced stats. Rightfully so, too. However, the same can’t be applied in the realm of free shooty hoops. There’s simply too many variables.
Certain systems are used which prop players’ stats too high in one direction or another, which results in making nearly all guys from all teams incomparable. It isn’t even like comparing apples to oranges. For the most part, really, it’s like comparing apples to lobsters. Few teams play similarly enough, or ask players to play in similar roles of others, to make any sort of claims.
Yet, because magic I guess, Victor Oladipo was going to be the next Dwyane Wade because — wait for it…Oladipo played more than one year in college, got better each season, was good defensively and his offensive production jumped at the end of his college career. That’s mostly it. Oh, and they played under Tom Arnold lookalike, Tom Crean.
Using that back then to make that comparison was not only ill-advised, but the foundation which the church of Sports Hyperbole is built. People wanted to talk about Oladipo in a positive light so badly, but many of them were unfamiliar with his college basketball exploits, so they relied upon the tired and lazy player-to-player comparisons which usually results in some of the worst analysis in the world.
As of right now, and pretty safe to say moving forward, Oladipo isn’t Wade. Not even close. Not in any measure. Sure, he’s solid defensively, but so too are a plethora of other guys who were never predicted to be the next Wade. If we’re using that measuring stick put forth by others to gauge his career; Oladipo is a bust.
It’s Oladipo’s absolutely wretched offense which makes this so amusing. Well, in the context of those who projected him to be Wade-ish. As the Orlando Magic continue to be impressive this season, with Oladipo certainly playing a role in it, he’s nowhere near the critical piece to the success many envisioned. He’s basically a mere step or two above being a role player. He fits somewhere between glorified role player and really good niche, defensive player guy. Essentially, he’s not irreplaceable.
The comparison becomes even weirder when we start to talk about Oladipo regressing on the offensive end of the floor. His efficiency numbers are the worst of his career. And not even an “anomaly of badness,” but the likelihood of who he truly is on that side of the court.
Oladipo is shooting 39 percent from the floor this season, a god-awful 26 percent from three, and — EVEN — his effective shooting percentage is sitting at a lowly 43 percent. That’s all bad. Really bad. All the negative words, honestly.
Because Orlando has gotten better elsewhere, coupled with Oladipo not being all that special or seeming like a guy who can ever be, the Magic have decreased his minutes this season as well. The once future Wade is playing under 30 minutes per game this season. He’s also now coming off the bench. Now, to be fair, he actually fits that role rather nicely. At the same time, we’re talking about the next Dwyane Wade here — and that’s not what next Dwyane Wades do.
None of this is meant to bash Victor Oladipo. Simply a little highlight — using hindsight, obviously — of how poorly a job many of us do while trying to evaluate players at the college level. Year after year, specifically during the NCAA Tournament, many casual fans will pop their heads in to witness the spectacle of March Madness, and leave their mark on it by way of saying some of the most ludicrous nonsense the world has ever seen. And, well, many of us are also to blame for allowing it, as we buy in on that hilarious hyperbole.
From McGary, to Oladipo, to nearly every other guy sane people knew had true and forever limitations, they bubble up every single season. Wait for it, as it’ll happen again when March hits.
As for Oladipo in the NBA, he’s not Wade nor any other player of that consequence. What he is, though, is a fine defensive player with the ability to occasionally put up scoring binges. That’s about it, and there’s nothing wrong with that.