Indiana Hoosiers‘ shooting guard Victor Oladipo is predicted to be the first overall SG to be chosen in the 2013 NBA Draft. He has size, ability and the mindset that will set him up to be successful in the NBA early on in his career.
Despite his potential, he is not the best SG for the future in the 2013 NBA draft: that distinction belongs to Georgia Bulldogs’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Oladipo was on one of the premier teams in college basketball. Indiana had a great run in the NCAA tournament, and Oladipo even helped the Hoosiers win the Big 10 regular season title. However, he didn’t do it single-handedly; he had a top class team surrounding him on the court. There was no way that Indiana could have done as well as they did without Cody Zeller in the mix with Oladipo.
Georgia had a lot better of a season than they should have because of Caldwell-Pope. Their roster was lacking in talent, and Caldwell-Pope was their only consistent player. He had to play at his best every game for Georgia to even stand a chance. They put up a fight early on against then-No. 1 Indiana and narrowly lost to the UCLA Bruins.
The Bulldogs would have had a terrible season without Caldwell-Pope; without Oladipo, the Hoosiers would have still competed in the Big 10.
Caldwell-Pope doesn’t get a lot of credit for his SEC MVP-earning performance last season because the SEC was not as strong as it has been in the past. Not many non-SEC fans paid any attention to teams other than Kentucky and Florida. He wasn’t able to perform against top teams often enough for NBA scouts to look at him as one of the best players in the country, and it hindered his draft stock.
The next argument against Caldwell-Pope being the top SG is that the SEC was not as difficult as the Big 10 last season, but that is only partly true. The Big 10 had better, more elite teams, but the SEC had more top-100 RPI teams than the Big East and the Big 10.
Clearly, Oladipo played against more top class teams, but Caldwell-Pope had to compete in every game. Oladipo is used to a cast of some of the best basketball players around him, and he may not have that when picked high in the draft.
Both Oladipo and Caldwell-Pope are going to be good NBA players, but Oladipo will be thrust into a line up immediately and be expected to perform as he did in college. This will hinder his growth rather than aid it. Caldwell-Pope will likely come into the league as a bench player expected to come on and hit a few threes in a game, not save a team from another bad season.
The lack of pressure on Caldwell-Pope will allow for him to continue to play his game and not have to put a team on his back. In the end, despite being picked later in the draft, Caldwell-Pope will have more NBA success than Oladipo. However, both players’ NBA success could all depend on which team decides to draft them.