Hoosiers In The NBA: The Injury Bug Bites

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Injuries are a part of sports. Sometimes injuries can derail someone’s career or interrupt their great play while other times injuries are blessings in disguise as it lets someone else show off their potential. All four Hoosiers in the NBA were affected by injuries this week, whether they were injured or someone else who affects their play was injured. Let’s go over how each Hoosier did this week and break down the ramifications of these injuries:

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Vs Dallas (W 120-105): 17 points (5-19 FG)(3-3 FT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, block, personal foul, 34 minutes.

@ Atlanta (L 106-98): 26 points (10-20 FG)(2-3 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 32 minutes.

@ Toronto (L 100-81): 30 points (11-22 FG)(4-5 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, steal, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ New York (L 95-87): 11 points (5-11 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

First off let’s take a moment to celebrate the fact that I’m writing a column about injuries and it has nothing to do with Eric Gordon being injured. In fact it almost feels like he is the only healthy player on the New Orleans Pelicans, with Jrue Holiday playing limited minutes, Tyreke Evans not playing at all, and Anthony Davis recently having to sit out two games with a hip injury.

However, it’s Davis’ injury that affects Gordon the most. Without Davis, the Pelicans’ scoring options looked very bare outside of Gordon, which meant Gordon had to take more offensive responsibility this past week. What we saw was vintage-Gordon as he dropped 26 points against the Atlanta Hawks and a season-high 30 points against the Toronto Raptors. Not only was Gordon scoring a lot but also very efficiently, hitting 50% (10 of 20 vs Atlanta and 11 of 22 vs Toronto) of his shots in both games. Even though we won’t see vintage-Gordon anymore with Davis now healthy again (he had only 11 points vs New York), it was great to see that Gordon can still be a lead-scorer and that he’s still healthy.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Indiana (L 97-84): 15 points (7-18 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 2 blocks, 4 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 38 minutes.

Vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 101-99): 3 points (1-2 FG), 2 rebounds, assist, personal foul, 7 minutes.

We hear about concussions all the time in football, but they are just as devastating in basketball. While you don’t get hit in the head as often in basketball, you also don’t have a helmet and you play on a really hard court. Add the fact that the NBA has a very strict concussion protocol (you must be symptom-free while resting, then you are subjected to increasingly harder physical tasks and then finally you must get the okay from the director of the NBA’s concussion program) and it’s unknown when we will see Victor Oladipo back on the court. It could be the Orlando Magic’s next game or it could be two weeks from now. I’m not exaggerating about the two weeks either, as Oladipo’s teammate Nikola Vucevic was out for three weeks during last season after he sustained a concussion.

It’s never a great time to suffer an injury as serious as a concussion, but this could really hamper Oladipo’s aggressiveness on defense when he does return. It seems silly to think Oladipo won’t play aggressively, but players who sustain concussion are a lot more aware of situations where concussions occur as well as the risks on sustaining multiple concussions. Head Coach Scott Skiles has lauded Oladipo for his defensive intensity and for good reason as Oladipo is playing the best he has ever played on that side of the ball so it would be a shame to see him lose that progress.  I think Oladipo will eventually regain that aggressiveness; I just hope it doesn’t take him awhile to regain it.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ Denver (L 108-104): 0 points (0-3 FG), 2 rebounds, personal foul, 13 minutes.

Vs San Antonio (L 113-101): 2 points (1-2 FG), 2 rebounds, personal foul, 7 minutes.

@ Memphis (L 101-100): 0 points, 2 personal fouls, 7 minutes.

@ Charlotte (L 106-94): 9 points (3-6 FG)(3-4 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

When Meyers Leonard dislocated his shoulder, which will keep him out a month, the question was whether Ed Davis or Noah Vonleh would take his starting spot. At first, the answer was neither as Chris Kaman started against the Memphis Grizzlies. However, Noah Vonleh received the start (his first of his career) against his former team the Charlotte Hornets.

Unfortunately that was more likely Head Coach Terry Stotts letting Vonleh get a chance to prove himself against the team that drafted him than an endorsement for Vonleh to be the starter going forward. When it came to crunch time in the Hornets game, it was Davis who played power forward. Regardless of if he is starting or not, Vonleh still benefits from Leonard’s absence, especially when considering that Vonleh’s minutes were dwindling over the last couple of games. As long as Vonleh plays well the Trail Blazers will find ways to put him on the court.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

@ Minnesota (W 104-95): 14 points (5-8 FG)(4-6 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

Vs New York (W 95-93): 12 points (2-6 FG)(8-15 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, block, personal foul, 25 minutes.

Vs Portland (W 106-94): 1 point (0-4 FG)(1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, turnover, personal foul, 21 minutes.

It was quite the week for Cody Zeller as he recorded back-to-back double digit scoring games for the first time this season, set a career high for free throw attempts (Zeller alone attempted more than twice as many free throw as the opposing Knicks 15-7), and hit a game-winning layup on an inbound play. However, Zeller also missed the Charlotte Hornets’ game against the Chicago Bulls due to a sprained ankle. Zeller returned for the Hornets’ next game against Portland but he only mustered one point. He was still great defensively, blocking a season-high two shots.

Now there is no need to worry about Zeller losing momentum from his injury; the worry comes from the idea that if Zeller was to miss an extensive amount of time he could lose his spot in the rotation to either Frank Kaminsky or Tyler Hansbrough. Zeller was able to beat out both of them before the season, but as I stated injuries give other players a chance to show their potential and that includes second chances. Zeller’s ankle should be fine, so let’s hope he doesn’t sustain anymore injuries.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 19.1ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.8apg, 0.90spg, 0.20bpg, 1.7tpg, 2.8fpg, 42.0% FG, 37.8% 3FG, 82.8% FT, 35.7mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 14.7ppg, 6.9rpg, 3.9apg, 1.56spg, 0.78bpg, 1.7tpg, 1.9fpg, 38.2% FG, 27.9% 3FG, 88.9% FT, 35.1mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 2.5ppg, 2.6rpg, 0.4apg, 0.27bpg, 0.8tpg, 1.7fpg, 32.3% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 70.0% FT, 13.2mpg.

Cody Zeller: 7.1ppg, 5.3rpg, 1.0apg, 1.00spg, 0.56bpg, 0.7tpg, 1.8fpg, 41.7% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 63.2% FT, 22.1mpg.

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