USA Today Sports
Victor Oladipo’s performance last night is the type that gives Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau night sweats.
Torching a Thibodeau defense is not something often done but the Orlando Magic rookie point guard did that just that yesterday, driving (literally) through the Chicago Bulls defense to the tune of 35 points on 15-of-24 shooting. More impressive than the raw scoring totals, is where Oladipo got his points — at the rim.
Points at the rim are not a task easily performed on the Bulls, as they have allowed the 2nd lowest field goal percentage in the restricted area in the NBA. Only the Indiana Pacers allow a lower percentage in the restricted area.
When looking at the other dominant individual performances against the Bulls this year, namely Ryan Anderson’s 36 point effort on December 2 and Kevin Durant’s 32 points on December 19, you’ll see the huge difference.
Ryan Anderson December 2 vs. Chicago Bulls:
Kevin Durant December 19 vs. Chicago Bulls:
And now, Oladipo’s performance last night:
The Bulls have always been a team that will let you attempt threes and long-twos if you have space. A player like Durant will exploit that because, well, he’s the best pure scorer in the league, that’s just going to happen sometimes. Ditto for Anderson’s performance, he just kept shooting and shooting and shooting, the Bulls gave him looks and he took advantage.
Oladipo’s performance is much different, he went into the belly of the beast and slayed it. This is nothing entirely new for Oladipo. Struggling with his outside shot through much of the year, he’s begun relying heavily on points in the paint and in the restricted area. 185 of his 453 field goal attempts take place in the restricted area (roughly 40%).
That he was able to do it on a Bulls team is impressive, but more so because of who was guarding him a majority of the game — the Bulls resident shutdown defender, Jimmy Butler. Sure, Oladipo was worked around screens to get him away from Butler on occasion, but even in those scenarios he was going up against Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah. Both more than capable defenders.
Oladipo has had his ups and downs during his rookie year, namely his inconsistent shooting. That has led to criticism of Orlando for putting so much stock into the young guard but games like last night showcase his long-term impact. Simply put, Oladipo put himself into rarified air last night.
Statistical support for this story from NBA.com/Stats