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So far 2016 has been a great year for Hoosier Nation. Not only have the Indiana Hoosiers played well, so have the Hoosiers who have left Bloomington to play in the NBA. For the first time in my two years writing about all former Hoosiers playing in the NBA, all of them are starting at the exact same time. How many other colleges can say that all of their current basketball player alumni are NBA starters? So for this week’s edition, I’m going to go over why all of them are starters and explain their roles as a starter. I’ll also go over how likely they are to retain that starting spot going forward. So let’s take a look at the Hoosier’s NBA starting lineup:
Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:
@ Orlando (L 104-89): 3 points (1-6 FG), block, 2 turnovers, 24 minutes.
Vs Los Angeles Clippers (L 95-89): 10 points (3-10 FG) (2-2 FT), 2 rebounds, steal, block, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 35 minutes.
@ Dallas (W 105-98): 16 points (6-14 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 37 minutes.
Vs Dallas (L 100-91): 14 points (5-9 FG), rebound, 3 assists, turnover, personal foul, 23 minutes.
Vs Indiana (L 91-86): 8 points (3-11 FG)(1-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.
@ Los Angeles Clippers (L 114-111): 7 points (3-10 FG), rebound, 4 assists, 2 steals, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 38 minutes.
Almost from the beginning of his NBA career, Eric Gordon has known no other role than being his team’s starting shooting guard. Now in his eighth season, Gordon has started 388 of the 408 games he has played, but the reason he’s starting now is slightly different from the reason he started the majority of those games. Once the go-to scorer, Gordon has taken on the role of three-point specialist for the New Orleans Pelicans the last couple of years as he’s adjusted to all the injuries he has sustained. Gordon’s ability to hit from deep provides the spacing this offense needs to operate, which makes him a key part of the Pelicans’ starting lineup. While he has struggled with his shot sometimes and during other times has offered little else in terms of stats, Gordon has cemented his spot in the starting lineup as one of the veteran leaders and a key part of dangerous offense when everyone on the Pelicans is healthy.
Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:
Vs New Orleans (W 104-89): 4 points (2-7 FG), 6 assists, steal, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 26 minutes.
Vs Brooklyn (W 100-93): 12 points (3-11 FG)(4-4 FT), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 5 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 29 minutes.
@ Washington (L 103-91): 20 points (8-18 FG)(2-2 FT), rebound, 5 assists, 4 steals, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 31 minutes.
@ Cleveland (L 104-79): 6 points (3-11 FG)(0-1 FT), 2 assists, 14 minutes.
@ Detroit (L 115-89): 18 points (7-11 FG)(3-3 FT), 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 35 minutes.
Vs Indiana (L 95-86): 20 points (7-13 FG)(2-2 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, block, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 41 minutes.
@ Brooklyn (W 83-77): 20 points (7-11 FG), 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, block, 4 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.
Vs Washington (L 105-99): 17 points (5-12 FG)(5-6 FT), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, steal, block, 6 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 39 minutes.
Victor Oladipo’s wide skill-set has allowed both former Orlando Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn and current head coach Scott Skiles to really experiment in regards to what kind of roles Oladipo can play for the Magic. During his rookie season, Oladipo played the role of starting point guard and when the Magic drafted Elfrid Payton the Magic moved Oladipo back to the starting two-guard position. Earlier this season, Skiles moved Oladipo to the bench as his ability to score in bunches would help bolster an offensively-impaired second unit. Now Oladipo finds himself back at the position of starting point guard with Payton out with an injury. However this time Oladipo is being asked to be more of a ball-handler than a traditional point guard. While Oladipo has started to get hot offensively since returning to the starting lineup, hitting 26 of 47 field goal attempts (55.3%), you’d have to think that Payton gets his job back when he returns from injury. That and the fact that Oladipo’s turnover problems are starting to appear again since his move to point guard, jumping from 1.9 during his first 32 games to 3.8 during his last four games.
Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:
Vs Denver (W 110-103): 0 points (0-2 FG), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, turnover, personal foul, 16 minutes.
@ Utah (L 109-96): 6 points (1-1 FG)(4-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, personal foul, 19 minutes.
@ Denver (W 112-106): 5 points (2-6 FG)(1-2 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, block, 6 personal fouls, 26 minutes.
Vs Memphis (L 91-78): 2 points (1-3 FG), 6 rebounds, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 13 minutes.
Vs Los Angeles Clippers: (L 109-98): 7 points (3-5 FG) (1-1 FT), rebound, personal foul, 16 minutes.
Vs Golden State (L 128-108): 0 points (0-3 FG), 6 rebounds, personal foul, 17 minutes.
Vs Oklahoma City (W 115-110): 0 points (0-3 FG), 3 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, block, turnover, 5 personal fouls, 14 minutes.
Having played a total of only 257 minutes in 25 games last year, Noah Vonleh is definitely the surprise starter of this group. His reason for being the starter is also a little more unusual too. Vonleh filled in for the injured Meyers Leonard early in the season, and while Vonleh played fairly well it wasn’t an upgrade over Leonard’s play. Yet when Leonard returned, Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts kept Vonleh as the starting power forward. The reason for not switching back was because before the injury to Leonard, Vonleh was rapidly losing playing time as there just weren’t many situations for Stotts to sub in Vonleh. Having Vonleh start carves out guaranteed minutes for him as he continues to develop his very raw skills. If you look at playing time and who is on the court in crunch time, Stotts actually did make Lenoard the starting power forward again but just without the distinction of actually starting the game. With the Trail Blazers in rebuilding mode this season I expect this situation to play out for at least the rest of this season.
Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:
Vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 108-98): 16 points (8-10 FG)(0-2 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 33 minutes.
Vs Los Angeles Clippers (L 122-117): 12 points (4-6 FG)(4-4 FT), 8 rebounds, assist, 3 steals, block, turnover, personal foul, 28 minutes.
@ Toronto (L 104-94): 15 points (5-7 FG)(5-6 FT), 9 rebounds, assist, 3 blocks, 3 personal fouls, 30 minutes.
Vs Oklahoma City (L 109-90): 7 points (2-5 FG)(3-4 FT), 4 rebounds, block, 4 personal fouls, 23 minutes.
@ Golden State (L 111-101): 8 points (2-7 FG)(4-4 FT), 10 rebounds, 2 steals, block, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 28 minutes.
@ Phoenix (L 111-102): 13 points (6-9 FG)(1-2 FT), 11 rebounds, 3 steals, block, turnover, 5 personal fouls, 34 minutes.
@ Los Angeles Clippers (L 97-83): 6 points (2-7 FG)(2-4 FT), 13 rebounds, block, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 33 minutes.
@ Denver (L 95-92): 15 points (6-11 FG)(3-4 FT), 6 rebounds, 3 turnovers, personal foul, 31 minutes.
Cody Zeller is used to filling in at starting positions for the Charlotte Hornets, but after occupying the starting center spot for over a month with Al Jefferson injured multiple times with a suspension in-between, it may now be Zeller’s starting spot. Zeller’s speed and athleticism has let the Hornets be able to transition to a faster-paced offense, something the team had hopes for during the off-season when they signed Nic Batum. Zeller also helps the Hornets the halfcourt as he is able to set screens faster and while he won’t be backing many defenders down he can use that athleticism to maneuver around those bigger defenders. Defensively, Zeller has also proved that he can hold is own in the paint defending guys who have 25 pounds on him, one of the main reasons the Hornets were trying to move him to power forward. Overall, Zeller has really flourished the last month and the fact that he’s currently averaging 8.5 rebounds over his last 10 games (he’s always seemed to under-perform on the boards until recently) may be the final nail in the coffin for Jefferson’s spot.
Eric Gordon: 15.1ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.6apg, 0.92spg, 0.28bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 40.5% FG, 36.9% 3FG, 88.0% FT, 33.5mpg.
Victor Oladipo: 13.1ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.9apg, 1.28spg, 0.67bpg, 2.1tpg, 2.2fpg, 40.1% FG, 32.6% 3FG, 80.9% FT, 29.6mpg.
Noah Vonleh: 3.1ppg, 3.8rpg, 0.5apg, 0.48spg, 0.25bpg, 0.6tpg, 1.9fpg, 39.2% FG, 16.7% 3FG, 84.6% FT, 15.4mpg.
Cody Zeller: 8.9ppg, 5.9rpg, 0.9apg, 0.94spg, 0.69bpg, 0.9tpg, 2.9fpg, 51.1% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 71.8% FT, 24.6mpg.