Magic to bench Victor Oladipo, start Channing Frye
The first few months of the NBA season are always prime real estate for lineup tweaks and experimentation, and Orlando Magic head coach Scott Skiles is taking that ball and running with it.
After team shootaround on Wednesday, Skiles announced that he was moving third-year guard Victor Oladipo to the bench and starting veteran big man Channing Frye for their matchup against the New York Knicks.
“It’s nothing punitive,” said Skiles per Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”
Oladipo is averaging career lows in almost every major statistical category so far this season, posting 12.8 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game, and 3.6 assists per game on a shield-your-eyes 37.0 percent from the field and 26.4 percent from deep. Though the former No. 2 overall pick is the team’s best defender under a defense-first coach in Skiles, he has shown almost no chemistry whatsoever sharing the backcourt with second-year point guard Elfrid Payton, another non-shooter.
With proper floor spacing being perhaps the cornerstone of the modern NBA offense, the insertion of Frye, a career 38.7 percent three-point shooter, should help Orlando gain some much-needed breathing room on the offensive side of the ball. At 6-foot-11, Frye should also give Skiles more lineup versatility and a potent anti-small ball weapon playing next to Nikola Vucevic.
Oladipo, who had been benched the second half by Skiles (a.k.a He Of The Notoriously Volatile Rotations) on numerous occasions this year, should now be free to run roughshod over opposing second units as a powder keg 6th man. While the Magic have actually been 7.6 points WORSE per 100 possessions with Oladipo on the floor this season as opposed to when he sits (per NBA.com), perhaps this more efficient situational allocation of his skills should help get the talented former Hoosier back on track.
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