The NBA Rookie of the Year race is something that is getting overlooked quite a bit for the 2013-14 season. While it’s understandable to be focused on the MVP race between Kevin Durant and LeBron James, possibly the biggest reason why no one’s talking about the Rookie of the Year race is that the rookie class hasn’t been particularly good this year.
For rookies playing more than 15 minutes per game, only one has a PER above 15 this season (Mason Plumlee). Quite frankly, no one player has separated themselves to any great degree as the favorite to when the award at season’s end.
One rookie who will more than likely be in the running, though, is Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo. Through 70 games this season with Orlando, Oladipo has put up a solid line with 14 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.6 steals in 32 minutes per game, though his 41.2 percent shooting from the floor and 31.2 percent clip from three aren’t exactly positives.
However, what’s been even more impressive from Oladipo is his endurance in just his first season in the Association. Oladipo is second among rookies in games played and is by far the leader among rookies in terms of total minutes played this season. Even with adjusting to a more taxing style of play at the pro level, Oladipo has consistently shown up and has shown the toughness and physical-readiness to not end up on the sideline due to injuries or general wear and tear.
Considering that Oladipo is such an aggressive player on both ends of the floor, him showing this kind of durability this early in his career is a terrific sign. We’ve seen a ton of young guys in recent years succumb to injuries as they transition to the NBA and while some of them are freak accidents, at least a part of that has to do with the change in the level of physicality from college to the pros.
Oladipo’s endurance and durability this season may not swing the Rookie of the Year race in his favor; I doubt that’s something many voters are going to take into consideration. However, looking beyond this season, the way Oladipo has held up this season is a positive sign.