By Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel
4:48 PM EST, December 20, 2013
After each game the Orlando Magic play, rookie guard Victor Oladipo attempts to watch a recording of that game from start to finish. He hopes to identify things he could've done better and then apply those lessons to the next time he steps onto the court.
His review of the Magic's game Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz must've been unpleasant. Not only did the Magic lose a winnable game, but he endured his worst shooting night so far as a pro, making just one of the 12 shots he attempted.
"You've got to let it go, especially in this league," Oladipo said Friday. "If you let it build up and you let it stay with you, you're still not going to play well the next game, I don't think. So, that game has come and gone. I'm not really worried about it. I'm just worried about the next game."
Oladipo must strike a delicate balance — the same balance all NBA players must seek. On one hand, it's crucial for him to confront any weaknesses in his own game so he can improve. On the other hand, he can't dwell on rough games too much because doing so could erode his self-confidence.
Oladipo is learning just how difficult it is to be efficient on the professional level, but the truth is that he's been more successful as a shooter than most of his rookie brethren.
Through Thursday's games, only 12 players chosen in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft were shooting at least 40.0 percent from the field so far this season.
Oladipo is shooting 40.0 percent.
Although his shooting percentage doesn't appear particularly impressive at first glance, it needs to be put into perspective. No other rookie has played as many minutes as he has, and most other rookie guards are struggling with their shooting.
On Saturday night, the Magic will host the Sacramento Kings and will face the Kings' rookie shooting guard, Ben McLemore, for the first time. McLemore was widely considered the draft's best shooter, but he had made just 35.5 percent of his shots through Thursday.
Oladipo, McLemore and their fellow rookie perimeter players are learning just how difficult it is to succeed in the NBA.
"I think it's a little bit more than shot selection," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "I think you realize how long [and] athletic the guys who are guarding you are. Shots that you used to get in college — it's a little bit more difficult for you to get those shots now."
Even layups can be difficult, as Oladipo has learned.
On Sunday in Oklahoma City, the Magic faced an elite shot-blocker, the Thunder's Serge Ibaka. One night later, the Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah patrolled the paint. On Wednesday night, Jazz big man Derrick Favors defended the rim.
Oladipo has had his shot blocked 38 times this season — with 31 of those blocks occurring within 5 feet of the basket — according to the NBA's official statistics database.
Through Thursday, only five players have had their shot blocked more often than Oladipo: Evan Turner, Greg Monroe, David Lee, Nikola Pekovic and DeMarcus Cousins.
"I was always getting my shot blocked when I was first in college," Oladipo said.
"You've got to learn to adjust to it. I'm just trying to learn right now."
It can take a while.
Magic swingman Arron Afflalo can attest to that.
"In maybe my fifth year or fourth year, I really started understanding the dynamics of how to be a little more deceptive about the things that I do," Afflalo said. "Obviously, he's a lot more athletic and gifted than I am, so it's going to probably be even more of a process for him to learn not to depend on that so much and really pick his spots."
Oladipo receives plenty of advice.
In his pregame shooting drills, he works with Magic assistant coach for player development and former NBA swingman Laron Profit.
Vaughn's assistant coaches often review film individually with players. On Thursday, Vaughn and Oladipo reviewed game film together.
During that discussion, Vaughn asked Oladipo about his thought process at specific points in the game and what Oladipo should keep in mind the next time he faces similar situations.
"It helps a lot when he sits down with me and we pinpoint things," Oladipo said.
"It helps me a lot because I can fix them, and I'm seeing it from a head-coach perspective and also my perspective from watching by myself. It's always good to have obviously his perspective because of what he's done. He's played in the league. He's played this position."
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