Hoosiers In The NBA 2016-2017 Season Preview

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It seems like it was only yesterday that Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo were leading the Indiana Hoosiers to the 2013 Big Ten Championship. Now both enter their fourth NBA season with a lot to prove.

I also enter my fourth season of covering Hoosiers In The NBA, and this year the total number of Hoosiers has risen to five as rookie Troy Williams was able to impress the Memphis Grizzlies enough to earn a spot on their 15-man roster. For my preview this year, I will explain how each former Hoosiers’ situation has changed and forecast how they will do after those changes. I’ll also give my stat projections just for fun. So without further ado, let’s start with the oldest current Hoosier in the NBA:


Eric Gordon: Guard, Houston Rockets:

Last Season’s Stats:

15.2ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.7apg, 0.96spg, 0.31bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 41.8% FG, 38.4% 3FG, 88.8% FT, 32.9mpg. (45 games)

What Has Changed:

While a lot of positives did come out of Eric Gordon’s time with the New Orleans Pelicans, overall it was for the best that the two went their separate ways. While Gordon did learn how to become a three-point specialist during his time in the Big Easy, that was only because a terrible run of injuries ruined any chance Gordon had of becoming an All-Star. Now Gordon takes his new skill set with him as he starts anew in Houston.

What To Expect:

Gordon never fully became a three-point specialist in New Orleans because team injuries forced him to take bigger offensive roles. However, he’ll have the perfect opportunity to do that playing for a Houston Rockets team coached by Mike D’Antoni and led by James Harden. In fact, Harden’s switch to point guard means that Gordon will get to benefit from playing a ton of minutes with Harden, whose passing will give Gordon numerous open three-point looks over the course of the season. As long as he stays healthy, this might be a bright new beginning for Gordon.

Projected Stats:

13.9ppg, 2.0rpg, 3.3apg, 0.82spg, 0.16bpg, 1.4tpg, 2.6fpg, 45.8% FG, 39.0% 3FG, 86.7% FT, 29.3mpg.


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder:

Last Season’s Stats:

16.0ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.9apg, 1.61spg, 0.75bpg, 2.1tpg, 2.4fpg, 43.8% FG, 34.8% 3FG, 83.0% FT, 33.0mpg. (72 games)

What Has Changed:

So much has changed for Victor Oladipo in the span of a few months. First it looked like he was going to benefit from the Orlando Magic hiring defensive-minded Frank Vogel. However, that hire became meaningless when he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Yet things still looked great as Oladipo was set up to play on a championship contender alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Then Durant left to play for the Golden State Warriors. Now Oladipo must show he can be Westbrook’s sidekick as the Thunder try to move on in the post-Durant era.

What To Expect:

Oladipo has never had a teammate as talented as Westbrook or a team as good as this Thunder squad, so the expectations are high for the former second overall pick. Westbrook will undoubtedly step up his performance without Durant around but even he can’t replace all of Durant’s production, which gives Oladipo a chance to slide in and fill that role. I expect some struggles early on, but by the time the All-Star break passes, I think we may see the beginning of a All-Star career from Oladipo.

Projected Stats:

19.4ppg, 5.3rpg, 3.7apg, 1.89spg, 0.93bpg, 2.7tpg, 2.5fpg, 46.5% FG, 37.1% 3FG, 81.3% FT, 37.8mpg


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Last Season’s Stats:

3.6ppg, 3.9rpg, 0.4apg, 0.35spg, 0.33bpg, 0.6tpg, 1.9fpg, 42.1% FG, 23.9% 3FG, 74.5% FT, 15.1mpg. (78 games)

What Has Changed:

After starting 56 games last year, Noah Vonleh will have a hard time finding consistent playing time this year as the Portland Trail Blazers added Festus Ezeli to an already loaded frontcourt this offseason. Add in small-ball power forward Al-Farouq Aminu and that’s six players for only two positions.

What To Expect:

Vonleh was without a doubt the hardest player for me to forecast. It would have been easy for me to look at the depth chart and conclude that he won’t see the floor every game and may only play spot minutes. Yet last night proved yet again that Head Coach Terry Stotts  continues to try and find playing time for Vonleh (which Vonleh rewarded him by scoring 11 points on 5 of 5 shooting in 16 minutes) despite the positional logjam. For now I’m going to predict similar stats to last year but minutes could dry up when Ezeli is fully healthy.

Projected Stats:

3.1ppg, 3.7rpg, 0.3apg, 0.39spg, 0.44bpg, 0.5tpg, 1.4fpg, 46.8% FG, 32.8% 3FG, 77.2% FT, 7.2mpg.


Troy Williams: Forward, Memphis Grizzlies:

Preseason Stats:

13.2ppg, 4.0rpg, 0.7apg, 1.67spg, 0.33bpg, 1.2tpg, 2.3fpg, 52.1% FG, 42.1% 3FG, 72.4% FT, 25.5mpg. (6 games)

What To Expect:

First off I want to give a big congratulations to Troy Williams, who didn’t let the fact he went undrafted deter him from working his butt off to make the Memphis Grizzlies’ opening night roster.

Not only did Williams make a team, but he has a really good chance to become a rotation player for the whole year. He’ll get to audition the first few weeks as  Tony Allen and Chandler Parsons try to ease back from injuries and could even start opening night at small forward. How he plays the first few weeks will determine whether he becomes a permanent rotation player or an end of the bench reserve for the rest of this season.

Projected Stats:

5.6ppg, 2.3rpg, 0.9apg, 0.88spg, 0.40bpg, 1.8tpg, 1.6fpg, 43.9% FG, 34.0% 3FG, 74.6% FT, 12.5mpg.


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Last Season’s Stats:

8.7ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.0apg, 0.78spg, 0.86bpg, 0.9tpg, 2.8fpg, 52.9% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 75.4% FT, 24.3mpg. (73 games)

What Has Changed:

The Charlotte Hornets made a big decision this past offseason when they chose Cody Zeller over Al Jefferson to be the team’s center moving forward. Yet a lingering knee injury has held Zeller out and now the man signed to back him up, Roy Hibbert, will play the same role as Jefferson did last year as he will split time at center while Zeller tries to recover and make up for so many missed practices.

What To Expect:

While on the surface this looks like the same dilemma we all saw last year, things are a lot more favorable for Zeller in the long run this time around. Unlike Jefferson’s low post offense, Hibbert doesn’t have that one aspect of his game that makes him a clear upgrade over Zeller during certain situations. While Hibbert is still a good defender, a healthy Zeller is still better than a healthy Hibbert. While I do expect both to have an even amount of playing time early on, we will likely see Zeller gradually take more minutes away from Hibbert as the season goes along.

Projected Stats:

10.1ppg, 7.8rpg, 1.6apg, 0.91spg, 1.05bpg, 0.9tpg, 2.7fpg, 54.4% FG, 15.0% 3FG, 76.5% FT, 29.8mpg.

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