BOSTON — Orlando Magic rookie Victor Oladipo compiled 23 assists and 28 turnovers in his first seven NBA regular-season games.
Those statistics seem alarming.
But then you should consider the experience of someone to whom he's often compared: Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star Russell Westbrook. Like Oladipo, Westbrook made the transition from exclusively playing shooting guard in college to handling the basketball and initiating the offense in the pros.
Westbrook totaled 17 assists and 17 turnovers in the first seven regular-season games of his NBA career.
Oladipo's stats don't seem so disconcerting now, do they?
"It's a tough position to play to have the ball in your hand and make decisions," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "A lot of times playing by instincts is better than thinking too much. I think right now, at the end of the day, that's OK to do. He'll continue to grow, and that's the great thing: He'll have the games to continue to grow and get better."
For the Magic, who'll face the Boston Celtics Monday night at TD Garden, that's exactly the point with their potential point guard of the future. At a time when the Magic are rebuilding anyway, there's almost no risk if Oladipo learns how to play point guard through on-the-job training if he remains confident through the inevitable struggles.
Oladipo, the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, is struggling a bit now.
During Friday night's loss to the Celtics, he scored nine points on 3-of-12 shooting and finished with three assists and three turnovers.
During Saturday night's loss to the Atlanta Hawks, he scored five points on 2-of-8 shooting and finished with two assists and three turnovers.
Oladipo remains aggressive, but sometimes his assertiveness has backfired. Against Atlanta, he encountered little resistance as he drove to the rim. The problem was, late in the second quarter, Al Horford or Paul Millsap were patroling near the hoop and swatted away two of Oladipo's layup attempts.
When should he attack? When shouldn't he?
Those are a few of the questions he's dealing with now as he begins to play one of the toughest roles at basketball's highest level.
"It's just a learning process, like everything else," Oladipo said.
"I still feel like I can get to the rim. It's just a matter of me finishing now. Again, it's all a learning process."
It helps Oladipo that he's surrounded by teammates who were rookies within the last one, two or three years.
Small forward Maurice Harkless, combo guard Doron Lamb, power forward Andrew Nicholson and center Kyle O'Quinn were rookies last season, and they endured ups and downs throughout 2012-13.
"There's going to be games where you play great and games where you don't play well," Harkless, one of Oladipo's closest friends on the team, told reporters.
"You've just got to stay focused and, through the ups and downs, just stay level-headed and just forget about this one and move on to the next one. You've got to have a next-game mentality."
On Monday night, Oladipo will face another challenge.
Celtics guard Avery Bradley excels as an on-ball defender, and Bradley twice picked Oladipo's pocket during the fourth quarter when the teams faced each other on Friday.
Oladipo said he expects more pressure from the Celtics on Monday night.
"That's part of the growing process of transitioning to a ball-handler a little bit," Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo said. "When you have playmaking responsibility, teams are going to be well aware of that. They're going to try to take you out of your rhythm. The more experience he gets, I think the better he'll become."
"I've just got a good feeling he'll be ready to play. I'll make sure I put a little bug in his ear, and he'll come out ready to play."
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