One reason why wins like today’s are fun is that I don’t feel the need to watch every single second during the second half, and I can indulge in a statistical curiosity or two.
Today, that curiosity revolved around Victor Oladipo, whose season can pretty well be split into two sections: pre-Purdue and post-Purdue.
And a random thought hit me today: Oladipo’s role is morphing into one consistent with athletic, multi-talented Tom Crean guards of years past – the kind he hasn’t had at Indiana. Of course, the most famous of Crean’s such guards is Dwyane Wade, who played two seasons for Crean at Marquette.
So I wondered: how do Oladipo’s numbers over the last six games compare to Wade’s numbers as a sophomore? I was pleasantly surprised with the answer.
Comparing Oladipo and Wade
Now, before I go any further, understand that I am not saying Victor Oladipo is or will ever be as good as Dwyane Wade.
Nor am I saying that this is a perfect comparison. It’s a small snapshot of Oladipo’s sophomore year, with nary a top #25 team among the opponents, compared to Wade’s entire sophomore year.
For the season, Oladipo is averaging 11.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, and a number of other stats far off from Wade’s. For the purposes of this comparison, I’m looking at just the last six games.
But I do believe that the line of demarcation makes sense because the Purdue game marked Indiana’s offense being led by Oladipo, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that IU is 5-1 since and lost the only game in that stretch when it really got away from letting Oladipo lead the action on offense.
Plus, Oladipo’s turnovers have been a bone of contention during this stretch. I wondered how often Wade turned the ball over under Crean in at least a comparable type of role.
As you can see, Wade is a tick or more better than Victor in points, rebounds, assists, and steals, but the numbers and their balance are certainly in the same ballpark. Interestingly, sophomore Wade turned the ball over at the same clip as sophomore post-Purdue Oladipo, with both playing about the same number of minutes per game.
And as we’ve noted many times on the postgame show, you can live with Oladipo’s turnovers because of how important his aggressiveness is and because how many plays he is making. And seeing that a guy as prolific and important as Wade turned the ball over at the same relative rate in about the same number of minutes is encouraging.
Outside of that, there is nothing especially notable about the per game stats other than their relative similarity, which is certainly encouraging for Victor considering who he is being compared to.
What I found most interesting was the field goal and free throw stats.
Wade clearly shot the ball more than Victor is shooting it, and Wade did so more effectively. He averaged almost 7 field goal makes and over 14 attempts per game to Victor’s 4.5 and 9.5 respectively.
But look at the free throws. Wade is known now and was known then as a slasher, and a guy who would draw contact. Yet Wade averaged just 4.84 free throw attempts per game, whereas Victor is impressively shooting almost 8 free throws per game and knocking down a Hulls-like 87% of his free throws.
If someone had told me that Victor was shooting almost double the number of free throws per game over the last six games under Crean than Wade did as a sophomore, I’d have balked. But the numbers don’t lie, and that’s a great sign for Victor.
As Andy and I mentioned when we discussed this on the IU-Minnesota postgame show, there aren’t many conclusions to be drawn from this statistically selective analysis. But I will make this general statement: any time you can discuss similarities between an IU player and another guy who played for the same coach, in close to the same system, at roughly the same age, and who went on to lead said coach to a Final Four before ultimately becoming one of the best players in the world…it’s a good thing.
Over the last six games, Victor Oladipo has become the kind of multi-faceted guard that Tom Crean’s good teams at Marquette thrived with, Wade being the most notable example. As mentioned above, it is no coincidence that Indiana has reeled off five out of six victories during that span.
One thing is for sure: Oladipo is making huge strides during the second half of his sophomore season. He has become a true leader for this Indiana team in more ways than one.
And hey, there are far worse things to call a basketball player than Dwyane Wade Lite, right?
Over the last six games, that’s exactly what Victor has been. If he continues, this Indiana team becomes a very scary matchup for any team come tournament time.