Brooklyn Broadcast Breakdown: NBA Rookie to Watch

Orlando's Victor Oladipo is the Nets broadcasters' consensus No. 1 freshman
10/31/2013 9:49 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Ian Eagle, Mike Fratello, and Jim Spanarkel all like Victor Oladipo to be this year's impact rookie.(AP)
When asked about the NBA rookies to watch last year, all three members of the Nets on YES broadcast team we polled – Ian Eagle, Mike Fratello, and Jim Spanarkel – had high praise for Anthony Davis, Dion Waiters, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist; however, Eagle was the only one who gave any mention of the eventual Rookie of the Year, Damian Lillard, so he wins the proverbial prediction award for 2012-13.

This year, however, all three men locked into the same mindset when singling out one rookie who could shine above the rest – Orlando’s Victor Oladipo, a man who, according to Ian, fits the same bill Lillard did last season.

“It’s always interesting with rookies because there’s two classifications: rookies on teams with poor records who have a blank canvas, and rookies on good teams who find a niche and quietly make an impact learning from veterans and improving steadily,” Eagle noted, before adding that “the latter don’t win Rookie of the Year Awards.”

Oladipo will be the former in Orlando, and so far, so good, says Mike Fratello.

“He’s going to get an opportunity because they’re putting that team back together again, so he’s going to get a lot of minutes,” Fratello noted. “Based on what happened in Summer League and in the preseason, he’s generating a lot of buzz.”

That buzz is always good, but you still have to play well in those situations to actually gain the honors, and that’s something Spanarkel thinks Oladipo will have no problem doing.

“It’s a rebuilding team in Orlando, which always helps, but he’s a player that seems to be able to handle himself in pressure situations,” Spanarkel said, “and I think the fact that the NBA game is a little more open will benefit his style, so I would lean towards him right now.”

As Eagle noted, Oladipo improved himself greatly at Indiana, going from a low-rotation player on a 12-20 team as a freshman at Indiana to a consensus All-American on a No. 1-ranked team as a junior, and that track record – as well as his willingness to keep improving in the pros – will carry Oladipo far not just this year, but for a long time to come.

“He’s got all-around skills; he’s physical and relentless, he can be explosive, and right out of the gate he has a chance to be an excellent defender, which earns you respect quickly in the NBA,” Eagle said. “From everything I know about him, he’s an extremely hard worker; he was pretty raw when he went to Indiana and improved every facet of his game over three years there. I think he has all the makings of a star in this league over the long haul.”

Through his first two NBA games, Oladipo is averaging 13 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. Only time will tell whether or not he will become an NBA superstar, but we only have to wait until next summer to see whether the Nets on YES team’s consensus pick is a slam dunk or an air ball in the NBA Rookie of the Year derby.

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