In part one of this semi-final matchup, Michael McNamara and Jake Madison debate whether Otto Porter or Victor Oladipo should be the Pelicans’ pick if they both fall to number six. Part two will feature counterarguments and a poll for you to vote for your choice.
The Case for Otto Porter, Jr. (McNamara)
I will admit that this is hard for me, and it should be hard for you when it comes time to vote. Honestly, if Dell has these two guys sitting on the board when he picks, he should thank his lucky stars because I don’t think he could go wrong either way. On one hand, you have perhaps the most intense defensive player in college basketball last season and on the other side you have arguably the most versatile player in college basketball from last year. These guys embody everything the Pelicans want moving forward; they are hard working, smart, versatile, defensive minded, and unselfish. But one guy’s ability to fit a need for the Pelicans and improve our offense in a multitude of ways makes him the better of the two picks. That guy is Otto Porter.
Victor Oladipo had a fantastic season, dramatically improving in nearly every category after having a pretty pedestrian sophomore season. In Oladipo’s sophomore year, he averaged 10.8 points on 47% shooting. Even worse was his three-point shooting, a miniscule 21% on nearly 50 attempts. When you compare his sophomore campaign to Otto’s, it isn’t even close, but that argument is too easy and I won’t make it.
The fact is that I respect the hard work that Oladipo displayed to improve his game in the offseason and the Pelicans are deciding between the two guys in front of them, not this Otto Porter vs. sophomore Victor Oladipo. But what I will say is that while his raw numbers indicate a huge leap on the offensive end, the idea that he has turned himself into a good offensive player just doesn’t hold up when you look a little closer. First, let’s start with the field goal percentage. Yes, it jumped from 47% to 60% this year, but he only took 8 shots per game in each season. Basically, he made one shot per game that he missed the year before. According to hoop-math.com, his FG% at the rim and attempts at the rim stayed about the same and he shot .5 more three’s and made .5 more three’s. Where the improvement came was on the 2-point jump shot. He took less of them (51 compared to 66) and he made a higher percentage of them (24 compared to 17).
When you take so few shots, it isn’t too hard to increase your field goal percentage dramatically. Take a look at Tyson Chandler. In 2004-05, he shot 49%. He comes to New Orleans and has a good young point guard and a coach who gives him some confidence and all of a sudden, he is at 65%. Did he really become that much better offensively? Of course not, and the same can be said about Oladipo. He takes 61% of his shots at the rim, meaning he only takes about 3 per game outside of the paint. He made 1.5 of those instead of .5 of those and all of a sudden we are supposed to think he is a competent offensive player? I don’t buy it.
Meanwhile, Otto Porter showed the ability to score in a multitude of ways, even when opposition is focused on stopping him. Oladipo was not a focal point of his team’s offense, taking only 14% of his teams’ total shots on the season, while Otto Porter took more than 22% of the shots for a Georgetown team that severely lacked talent. Despite being the focus of every team’s defense, Porter was still remarkably efficient as he had aTS% of 59% and averaged over 1.4 points per shot. And unlike Oladipo, his shots came from all over the court: 21% at the rim, 50% from 6-18 feet, and 29% of his shots came from three. He was good to great from every one of those spots on the court and even performed fairly well in the post.
Victor Oladipo got nearly two shots per game off of offensive rebounds, and like I said, shot a great percentage at the rim. That’s great that he was able to do that on the college level, but how many 6’4″ guards do we see make their living on the offensive end by crashing the boards and putting it back up against the trees in the NBA? Oladipo also did a great job scoring in transition, but I don’t know how much that helps one of the slowest pace teams in the league, year after year.
What the Pelicans need is a versatile offense weapon that can score and create for others. What they can’t afford to have is another guy that teams can simply cheat off of in the half court, clogging the lane for Anthony Davis to rim run and Eric Gordon or Austin Rivers to drive. They also, quite frankly, need a small forward. Last I checked, Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers, and Greivis Vasquez are all guards and the only small forward on this roster is Darius Miller. I would never advocate taking need over best player available, but where is the evidence that Victor Oladipo is the better player? He is a limited offensive player with average defensive statistics.
If Oladipo was the better player, I would tell you to take him and worry about how to put the whole puzzle together later, but he’s not. Otto Porter is the better player AND the better fit. It’s a tough matchup, but when you look closer, the choice is clear. The choice is Otto Porter, Jr.
The Case for Victor Oladipo (Madison)
I’m excited I get to pick up the case for Oladipo because he is my absolute favorite prospect in the draft this year. And he’s probably the Pelican’s favorite as well. But, before going any further, check out the write ups about Oladipo here and here.
Refreshed? Good, let’s talk about why Oladipo’s skill set fits the Pelicans perfectly.
I’m going to start by asking you a question. We’re you happy with the team’s defense last season?
I don’t need to guess your answer since it is a big NO.
And that’s where Oladipo fits in. He is by far the top perimeter defender in the draft. His 6-foot-9 wing span allows him to be a disruptive, lockdown, ball hawking defender. His speed and athleticism allow him to close out and recover quickly to harass shooters.
Remember all those open three-pointers the Pelicans gave up this season? All the guards chasing the ball around the perimeter but unable to do anything to prevent an open shooter? Oladipo won’t fix that by himself but he certainly makes the inside out defensive style Monty wants to run even easier. And when the team is up again a premier perimeter player, you have Oladipo to mark him and try and slow him down. No more guards slashing into the paint and slicing up the defense. Defensively, Oladipo is a lot like Tony Allen. That sounds great to me–and I didn’t even mention that Oladipo finished second in the nation for steals per game.
Now the offense.
The biggest concern about Oladipo’s offensive game is based around sustainability and sample size. His three-point attempts were down but his makes went up. So people are concerned about what that tells us. I’ll answer it for you: Efficiency. No one is looking for Oladipo to create his own offense, on most nights he’ll be a third or fourth option.
What I’m looking for him to do is simply be effective in certain aspects of his offensive game. Jumping his three-point shooting to 44.1% is huge for this Pelican’s team. Court spacing is vital to Monty’s offensive system. We’ve seen how well Anderson and Davis play together and the deadly sets Monty can draw up. The problem is that those two don’t play all that much at the same time. It cannot be understand how important it is to get another player who can space the court for Davis while Anderson is on the bench. Oladipo is that guy. As we get into Part II, I’ll go into more detail as to why I do not want Otto Porter, Jr.
Part 2 will be posted on Wednesday as Michael and Jake make their counterpoints to each other’s arguments and comments left in this post. So, let us know what you think!