Victor Oladipo should feel exhausted these days.
He's the only member of the Orlando Magic who has played in all 62 of the team's games. Although coach Jacque Vaughn has attempted to give Oladipo rest, Oladipo still ranks second among NBA rookies in playing time, averaging 32.0 minutes per game. And remember one last thing: Oladipo spent All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, so Oladipo hasn't had much of a break all season.
But, despite several rough recent outings, Oladipo insists he feels fine and wants to finish the season without missing a single game.
"I'm fresh," he said.
"There's only, what, 20 games left? I'm just trying to play hard and go all 20. I can't really control the outcomes, but I can definitely control how hard I play. So I'm just going to go out and play hard on both ends of the floor every week and all 20 games."
Playing in every game would be a source of pride for Oladipo, and it would also confirm one of the reasons why Magic officials selected Oladipo second overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. After they conducted countless interviews with Oladipo's former coaches and spoke with Oladipo himself, Magic executives became convinced that Oladipo had the best chance of any player in the draft of reaching his potential.
They feel even more convinced now.
Vaughn cited a specific play that happened during Sunday night's win over the Philadelphia 76ers. On that play, Oladipo dived headfirst to the floor to collect a loose ball.
"Those are the things that make him special," Vaughn said. "We'll continue to push him. I'll gauge his minutes to see how he feels."
Opposing players and coaches rave about Oladipo's motor — about how he rarely, if ever, takes possessions off on defense.
Oladipo has suffered a few minor injuries here and there. He gets bumps and bruises all the time, largely the result of his tendency to fall to the court on drives to the hoop. During the second quarter of Sunday night's win, Oladipo missed a driving layup, fell to the floor and banged the back of his head on the shin of a courtside video cameraman.
Oladipo played on.
"I've just got to do a better job in the offseason of learning how to land," he said. "I bet that sounds crazy."
But that's not the only item on his offseason to-do list.
Oladipo, who will turn 22 in May, already is regarded as one of the league's fastest players — and he's gaining a reputation for durability — but he thinks he can make improvements to his conditioning and his physique.
"I feel like I can be lighter," he said. "We'll see, though, during the summertime. I'm just going to see what I can do with my body, really. I'm fit now, but I feel like I can be more fit. I'm strong now; I feel like I can be stronger. We'll see how it goes. It'll be a big summer for me."
Oladipo didn't lift weights much in high school, but he lifted often during his time at Indiana University.
He's continued to lift weights this season.
"I've been really pleased with how he's taken care of his body," Vaughn said. "That's huge for a guy going forward. I think he's learned, even at this stage, of when to ice, [when to use] the cold tub, massage, treatment — all those things that go into [being] a professional and keeping your body right.
"He's learning that early on, and that's helped him."
And it just might help Oladipo play in all 82 games.
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