11/26. South Philadelphia. Blue Coats home opener. I’m ready to watch some potential future Sixers in action. There were familiar names such as Demetrius Jackson and Shake Milton, but they didn’t catch my eye like one specific player did: Cameron Oliver. Looking back on Oliver’s 13 points and 15 rebounds off the bench that night may seem easy, but that isn’t all that resonated with me.
I left with images in my head of watching Oliver anticipate countless rebounds. On repeat was a replay of Oliver setting a screen on the perimeter and rolling to the baseline, receiving the pass, and then delivering a two-handed slam. Oliver brought some much needed energy off the bench that night, and has for the whole season.
Oliver is only 22 years old and stands at 6’8″, 225 lbs. He plays significantly bigger than that on the court while still displaying impressive speed and athleticism for a forward. When I think of guys who display an elite sense for rebounding, I don’t expect to also see the highlight reel dunks Oliver is capable of. Oliver has quite the highlight reel already:
How He Got Here
In his final year at Nevada in 2016-2017, Oliver averaged 16 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, and 1.8 assists over 35 games. He earned an All-MWC First Team honor as well as Defensive Player of the Year.
Oliver’s professional career has started off slower than some expected. He was projected as a possible second round pick in the 2017 NBA draft, but ultimately went undrafted. The Blue Coats acquired Oliver from the Wisconsin Herd in January of 2018. He has played for both the Rockets and the Sixers in the NBA Summer League and was signed to a training camp deal this past offseason with Portland before being waived.
Currently Oliver is averaging 14.3 points per game while shooting over 57% from the field, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks – all while coming off the bench. He displays some ability to play a stretch four role as he currently is averaging one three per game and is just shy of 30% from deep. So while there’s room for improvement, the potential is definitely there.
What Have You Done For Me Lately?
With 22 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block in 30 minutes, Oliver was huge in the Blue Coats overcoming a 20 point deficit to defeat Oklahoma City on Monday. He led the team in rebounds and was one point shy of the team high of 23 by D.J. Hogg and Haywood Highsmith. Oliver lived above the rim on Monday and gave the home crowd his own private dunk contest:
Adding to his highlight reel, Oliver had the game-winning dunk in a win over his former team, the Wisconsin Herd. That slam, seen below, was the winner of the G-League Top Play of the Week for the last week of November, receiving 31% of the votes on Twitter:
As far as an NBA comparison, I think a lot of Sixers fans will remember Jerami Grant. Grant, at 6’9″, 220 lbs was another athletic “tweener,” as guys of their stature are often referred to. A “tweener” is a player who is able to play two positions, but is not ideally suited to play either position exclusively. Grant is a better pure athlete, but Oliver is more polished than Grant was. Grant, now having success with the Oklahoma City Thunder, is averaging 11.6 points per game, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game this season in about 30 minutes per game. The potential to reach a similar peak as Grant has hit this season exists for Oliver.