As an assistant general manager in Oklahoma City, Rob Hennigan watched as Russell Westbrook developed from a raw, 6'3" überathlete into a premier point guard. Now as the Magic's GM, Hennigan hopes to duplicate that success with Victor Oladipo, the No. 2 pick in the draft, who was primarily a shooting guard at Indiana. Oladipo is dynamic off the dribble, with a Westbrook-like ability to finish at the rim over bigger defenders. In a league where point guards resemble middle linebackers, Oladipo's size (6'4", 213 pounds) and athleticism will be a huge asset.
Against the Cavaliers during the preseason, Oladipo helped limit Kyrie Irving to 5 of 16 shooting. Like any new point guard, Oladipo has struggled with turnovers—he averaged a team-worst 4.8 during summer league—and teams will pressure him to test his ballhandling and decision making. But the Magic have the luxury of easing Oladipo into the role; they're in full-on rebuilding mode, and veteran Jameer Nelson can handle the point until Oladipo is ready. It may not take long. Oladipo is a hard worker: He effectively made himself a three-point threat at Indiana, improving from 20.8% as a sophomore to 44.1% as a junior last season. He's also a willing learner: He has taken to calling himself SpongeBob because of the information he is soaking up at practice. And like Westbrook, Oladipo is eager to prove doubters wrong. He already has one believer. "He's going to be great," said Irving. "His potential is out of this roof."
COACH JACQUE VAUGHN (2ND SEASON WITH MAGIC)
2012--13 RECORD 20--62 (5TH IN SOUTHEAST)
WHAT'S NEW Sadly, not much. Victor Oladipo, the draft's No. 2 pick, and bruising PF Jason Maxiell join a motley crew.
PROJECTED LINEUP (2012--13 STATS)
PG JAMEER NELSON