NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA on its new site! Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:
There’s no official date that marks the beginning of the NBA midseason (though I guess Christmas Day is the closest thing we have) but with every team having played at least 20 games and having won and lost at least one of those games (yes for those who didn’t know the Golden State Warriors did finally lose a game), I think we can go ahead and say the NBA season is out of its early stages. So for this edition of Hoosiers In The NBA, I’m going to recap how each Hoosier has progressed so far this season. I’ll also go over how their teams have performed to this point in the season and what their goals will be going forward:
Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:
Vs Boston (L 111-93): 0 points (0-2 FG), 2 rebounds, assist, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 16 minutes.
Vs Washington (W 107-105): 15 points (5-12 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, assist, steal, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.
@ Chicago (L 98-94): 14 points (5-15 FG)(2-2 FT), 2 assists, steal, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 34 minutes.
Eric Gordon’s Stats: 16.0ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.7apg, 0.87spg, 0.22bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.1fpg, 40.5% FG, 35.4% 3FG, 87.3% FT, 33.6mpg.
- Gordon’s Progress Report: Due to so many injuries to key players at the start of the season, a surprisingly-uninjured Eric Gordon was asked to take on more scoring responsibilities a year after taking a step down from such duties. Gordon showed he’s still able to score in bunches as he averaged 18.8 points over the Pelicans’ first 15 games. However, since then Gordon has averaged only 10.8 points per game over the team’s last eight games. The main reason for this decline is that key offensive pieces like Tyreke Evans are back in the lineup and thus Gordon’s scoring role has shrunken. With many players returning, Gordon has already accepted the possibility that he may have to come off the bench if that is what’s best for his team.
New Orleans Pelicans Stats: 6-17 (5th in Southwest Division, 14th in Western Conference), 101.7 points scored per game (14th), 108.4 points allowed per game (30th).
- Pelicans Progress Report: Credit Gordon for trying to keep things together while players have been out, but the Pelicans may have built themselves too big a of a hole to climb out of in time to make the playoffs. It hasn’t been a scoring problem as the Pelicans have actually improved slightly from their 16th ranked scoring offense (99.4) of a year ago. The problem has been a horrendous defense that ranks last this season after ranking a respectable 12th (98.6) last season. The return of Evans bolsters a middle-of-the-pack offense but unless they can get some stops this will continue to be a long season for New Orleans.
Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:
@ Denver (W 85-74): 11 points (5-14 FG)(1-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 4 blocks, 4 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 33 minutes.
@ Phoenix (L 107-104): 14 points (6-14 FG), 4 rebounds, 5 assists, steal, 2 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 29 minutes.
Vs Cleveland (L 111-76): 4 points (2-8 FG), 4 rebounds, assist, 4 turnovers, personal foul, 19 minutes.
Victor Oladipo’s Stats: 14.0ppg, 5.8rpg, 3.8apg, 1.14spg, 0.90bpg, 1.9tpg, 2.3fpg, 39.1% FG, 25.9% 3FG, 79.4% FT, 30.2mpg.
- Oladipo’s Progress Report: It’s been an up-and-down season for Oladipo as he is having both his best defensive season and his worst shooting season. However his offense has gotten better since moving to his current role of sixth man. As a starter, Oladipo was only averaging 12.8 points on 37.0% shooting but since his shift out of the starting lineup he’s averaging 15.6 points on 42.0% shooting. Oladipo has also improved in other areas such as rebounding and blocks, which helps keep him on the court even when he’s struggling with his shot. It’s still undetermined whether or not his move to the bench is permanent, but Oladipo is definitely taking it in stride. It’s important to note that the Magic still consider him one of their five best players because he is still playing during crunch time.
Orlando Magic Stats: 12-11 (4th in Southeast Division, 10th in Eastern Conference), 99.9 points scored per game (T18th), 99.2 points allowed per game (T10th).
- Magic Progress Report: New Head Coach Scott Skiles has done wonders for this young team as they are finally starting to show some progress and have a real chance this season to end their playoff drought. The biggest difference has been the defensive improvement. Last season the Magic were ranked 23rd in points allowed but have improved all the way up to 10th so far this season. The offense has also seen an improvement from their 25th ranked scoring attack last season. Maybe the most important thing is that the Magic are holding onto leads in the 4th quarter and are stealing some wins on the road (5-7 this season compared to 12-29 last year). As long as they continue to develop, the postseason will come either this season or the next.
Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:
@ Milwaukee (L 90-88): 6 points (3-5 FG), 7 rebounds, assist, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 14 minutes.
@ Cleveland (L 105-100): 2 points (1-1 FG), 4 rebounds, 2 personal fouls, 11 minutes.
@ Phoenix (W 106-96): 2 points (1-1 FG), 5 rebounds, assist, personal foul, 17 minutes.
Vs New York (L 112-110): 7 points (2-2 FG)(2-2 FT), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 17 minutes.
Noah Vonleh’s Stats: 3.1ppg, 3.4rpg, 0.4apg, 0.20spg, 0.24bpg, 0.8tpg, 1.8fpg, 44.4% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 78.6% FT, 14.3mpg.
- Vonleh’s Progress Report: It took some time for Vonleh to find a role in Portland but now he’s in a position to not only help himself but also the team. After never starting a game during his rookie season, Vonleh has started 14 of the Trail Blazers last 15 games and has found a groove offensively, shooting 53.3% from the floor when he starts compared to 29.6% when he comes off the bench. He’s also scoring twice as many points (4.1ppg starting to 1.9ppg off bench) despite only logging an average of two more minutes per game. The Trail Blazers love what they are getting out of Vonleh so much that he’s still starting even though Meyers Leonard, the player Vonleh replaced after Leonard sustained an injury, is healthy again. I expect Vonleh’s role to get bigger if he continues to improve his production.
Portland Trail Blazers Stats: 10-15 (3rd in Northwest Division, 10th in Western Conference), 101.9 points scored per game (12th), 102.0 points allowed per game (19th).
- Trail Blazers Progress Report: Everyone in the organization as well as the entire fanbase knew this would be a rebuilding season after the team lost many of their key veterans during free agency. The fact that this team has been as competitive as it has been is a testament to Head Coach Terry Stotts and this young team. Damian Lillard has taken over as the undisputed leader of the team, but it has been the breakout performance of C.J. McCollum, who has seen his scoring average jump from 6.8ppg last season to 19.9ppg this season, that has put this team ahead of schedule. Add in some great chemistry guys like Ed Davis and this team will be back in the playoffs in no time, but not this season.
Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:
Vs Detroit (W 104-84): 20 points (5-9 FG)(10-13 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 28 minutes.
Vs Miami (W 99-81): 9 points (4-8 FG)(1-2 FT), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, block, 3 personal fouls, 24 minutes.
@ Memphis (W 123-99): 2 points (1-5 FG), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, turnover, 5 personal fouls, 22 minutes.
Vs Boston (L 98-93): 12 points (6-9 FG), 5 rebounds, assist, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 27 minutes.
Cody Zeller’s Stats: 8.0ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.0apg, 0.71spg, 0.57bpg, 0.9tpg, 2.7fpg, 47.9% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 70.3% FT, 22.0mpg.
- Zeller’s Progress Report: Zeller’s first two seasons with the Hornets have been all about adapting to new situations so it’s no surprise that Zeller has been able to easily adapt yet again this year with a Hornets’ team that’s focusing more on the offensive end than ever before. Currently playing center in place of the injured Al Jefferson, Zeller is starting to find success scoring from the post, as he is starting to show some of the offensive prowess he showed back when he played in Bloomington. It will be interesting to see how the rotation changes when Jefferson comes back as Zeller is starting to be asset on offense as well as an asset on defense.
Charlotte Hornets Stats: 14-9 (1st in Southeast Division, 4th in Eastern Conference), 102.7 points scored per game (8th), 98.0 points allowed per game (8th).
- Hornets Progress Report: After finishing 28th in scoring offense a year ago, the Hornets made it a priority to improve their offense this past offseason. Not only has the offense heavily improved (from 94.2ppg last season to 102.7ppg this season), but the shift towards offense hasn’t hampered the defense as the Hornets have sustained a top-10 defense after ranking 7th last year (97.3). Players such as Jeremy Lin and Jermey Lamb have given the Hornets multiple scoring options off the bench, something the team hasn’t had in years. With a lot of the Eastern Conference in flux, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Hornets continue to challenge for a top four seed. However, the more likely scenario would be a six or a seven seed. Still pretty good for a franchise that still isn’t that far-removed from going 7-59.