Hoosiers In The NBA: Recapping The Opening Week Of The NBA Season

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A new season in the National Basketball Association has tipped off and thus another year of Hoosiers In The NBA has begun! Now entering it’s fourth year, I’ve gone from covering just Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller to now keeping tabs on eight former Hoosiers.

Every week I’ll go over the biggest stories regarding our roster of former IU players and have their season averages at the end of the article.

This week we have a lot to go over as the start of the season has been a very intriguing one for our former Hoosiers so let’s waste no more time and dive right in:


Things Clicking For Oladipo Back In Indiana

It took very little time for Victor Oladipo to feel at home back in the Hoosier state.

Oladipo is off to the best start of his career and it’s not even close. Here is a look at the first four games of each season by Oladipo:

2013: 13.8ppg, 43.8% FG, 30.0% 3FG
2014: 12.3ppg, 34.8% FG, 25.0% 3FG
2015: 15.8ppg, 35.3% FG, 25.9% 3FG
2016: 15.0ppg, 32.8% FG, 23.8% 3FG
2017: 23.8ppg, 47.1% FG, 38.1% 3FG

There are numerous reasons as for why this season has started off better than any of his prior seasons, from just being more accustomed to the NBA game to being the focal point of the offense and getting more touches.

Yet the thing that stands out most to me is that Oladipo is going to the basket more aggressively and drawing more fouls than he’s ever done before. He’s already averaging 6.8 free throw attempts per game, almost double his career average of 3.6 free throw attempts per game.

This has led to an improved shooting percentage, always a weakness for Oladipo, as defenses are starting to respect his ability to drive past them to the rim and are thus giving him a little more shooting space.

It would be important to note that three of these games have been without the Indiana Pacers other young star Myles Turner so it will be worth monitoring Oladipo’s numbers when Turner returns as we find out who the offense will run through when both are healthy.


Gordon Continues Scoring Pace From Last Season

Eric Gordon was rejuvenated last season, there’s no other way to put it.

After five injury-riddled season with the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans, Gordon played in 75 games (second most games he’s played in a season) during his first season with the Houston Rockets and became one of the NBA’s best sixth men and dangerous three-point shooters.

However the acquisition of Chris Paul likely meant that Gordon’s numbers would decline and we would start to see him more as a role player who would have the occasional throwback game instead of the second scoring option he was the year before.

Yet an unfortunate injury to Paul has Gordon not only back to being the secondary scorer again, but Gordon kicked it up a notch with three 20+ point games in his first four and, like Oladipo, a renewed interest in drawing fouls and going to the free throw line.

Gordon is averaging 7.8 free throw attempts through the season’s first four games, which contrasts greatly with Gordon’s last three seasons where he averaged under three attempts per game all three years.

This large amount of free throws will no doubt dwindle as the season goes along, but even half as many as he is averaging right now would mark a huge step forward for Gordon as he continues to transform his game in the second stage of his career.


Zeller Is The Back Up For Now
The offseason acquisition of Dwight Howard made Cody Zeller’s role on the Charlotte Hornets a bit of a mystery heading into the season.

After battling Al Jefferson for three years over the starting spot, Zeller finally won out and got his chance to be the starting big man last year and didn’t disappoint with career-best numbers in almost every stat category.

However he missed 20 games (tied for the most he has missed in a season) and the Hornets went a ghastly 3-17 in those games because of the lack of depth behind him at the position.

Enter Howard, who reunites with Head Coach Steve Clifford, one of his former coaches back in his Orlando Magic All-NBA years. Despite Zeller being the better player last year as well as six years younger, Howard has been awarded the starting spot mainly based on the fact that he’s a future Hall of Famer.

While this arrangement might work for now (Howard is averaging 12.7 points and 17.3 rebounds during the opening week while Zeller has only played in one of his team’s three games), history says Zeller will be the starter again by midseason. Although a bone bruise to start the season and two missed games may push that timetable back a bit.


Ferrell Is Still In The Starting Lineup
From a 10-day contract to a two-year contract and an All-Rookie 2nd team nod, Yogi Ferrell had quite the adventure during his first season in the NBA.

Looks like things will be just as crazy in year two. Ferrell, who was slotted to be the backup point guard, has started in all four of the Dallas Mavericks’ games so far this season and has been fairly impressive, especially from behind the arc where he’s shooting 52.6% from deep.

The reason Ferrell has been in the starting lineup is because of injuries.

The Mavericks used the ninth pick in the NBA draft on Dennis Smith Jr. who they have high hopes will be their franchise point guard. Unfortunately he has missed two of the Mavericks’ four games. In addition to Smith, Seth Curry has yet to play this season due to a leg injury.

Yet Ferrell has made the most of his playing time (34.5 minutes per game) and I still expect around 20 minutes a game when he eventually goes back to the bench, especially after the way he has performed this first week.


Anunoby Already Starts His Rookie Campaign

The fear of maybe missing his entire rookie season caused OG Anunoby to fall all the way to number 23 on draft night where the Toronto Raptors happily picked him.

Anunoby has repaid the Raptors’ faith in him as surprisingly he was able to participate right away in the first game of the season.

While he hasn’t done anything too special, it is fun to note that his first career points were a dunk over Quincy Pondexter and that he finished with nine points in his first NBA game.


Season Averages:

OG Anunoby: Forward, Toronto Raptors:

5.3ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.7apg, 0.33spg, 0.00bpg, 0.0tpg, 2.7fpg, 42.9% FG, 28.6% 3FG, 100.0% FT, 15.7mpg (3 games)

Thomas Bryant: Center, Los Angeles Lakers:

N/A

Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell: Guard, Dallas Mavericks:

13.8ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.0apg, 1.00spg, 0.00bpg, 1.3tpg, 2.5fpg, 39.5% FG, 52.6% 3FG, 93.8% FT, 34.5mpg (4 games)

Eric Gordon: Guard, Houston Rockets:

23.5ppg, 2.5rpg, 3.3apg, 0.25spg, 0.50bpg, 2.0tpg, 2.5fpg, 41.4% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 83.9% FT, 30.5mpg (4 games)

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Indiana Pacers:

23.8ppg, 4.5rpg, 3.5apg, 2.50spg, 0.50bpg, 2.8tpg, 3.5fpg, 47.1% FG, 38.1% 3FG, 85.2% FT, 30.8mpg (4 games)

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

N/A

Troy Williams: Forward, Houston Rockets:

2.0ppg, 1.0rpg, 0.0apg, 0.00spg, 0.00bpg, 0.0tpg, 1.0fpg, 25.0% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 0.0% FT, 4.0mpg (1 game)

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

8.0ppg, 9.0rpg, 0.0apg, 0.00spg, 1.00bpg, 2.0tpg, 2.0fpg, 60.0% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 100.0% FT, 23.0mpg (1 game)

Hoosiers In The NBA: The Aftereffects Of The Trade Deadline

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While not a single former Indiana Hoosier was moved at the NBA Trade Deadline this season, each team that has a former Hoosier did make at least one trade in preparation for the home stretch of this NBA regular season. So this time on Hoosiers In The NBA, I’ll go over the moves the Dallas Mavericks (Yogi Ferrell), Charlotte Hornets (Cody Zeller), Oklahoma City Thunder (Victor Oladipo), Portland Trail Blazers (Noah Vonleh), and Houston Rockets (Eric Gordon) made and how they affect our former Hoosiers.


Houston Rockets

  • Got Lou Williams from the Los Angeles Lakers for Corey Brewer and an unprotected first Round Pick in 2017
  • Sent K.J. McDaniels to the Brooklyn Nets for cap space
  • Sent Tyler Ennis to the Los Angeles Lakers for Marcelo Huertas

While at first it may sound redundant to add Lou Williams when you already have Eric Gordon, it actually isn’t for a team that plays like the Houston Rockets.

Recently removed from a game where they attempted 58 three-pointers, the Rockets try to put as many shooters on the floor as possible. Williams offers another shooter off the bench and adds insurance in case Gordon or starter Patrick Beverley miss extensive time due to injury.

Williams and Gordon can also play as a backcourt duo and are capable veterans with good enough passing skills to work well off another. Maybe most importantly they could give some much needed rest for James Harden near the end of the regular season.

As for the other two moves, they were in preparation of creating enough cap space if the right buyout candidate becomes available. Even if they don’t sign someone, neither player was playing much if at all for the team.


Charlotte Hornets

  • Got Miles Plumlee from the Milwaukee Bucks for Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes
  • Got Chris Andersen and cash from the Cleveland Cavaliers for a top-55 protected 2017 second round pick
  • Waived Chris Andersen

The importance of Cody Zeller to the Charlotte Hornets was made abundantly clear from the team’s actions during the trade deadline. Despite needing to fix numerous issues if they want to regroup and make the playoffs, the Hornets felt it was most necessary to get insurance for Zeller (who has already missed 20 games this season).

Miles Plumlee may be an unnecessarily expensive contract, but he’s still a very capable backup who poses no threat to taking Zeller’s starting spot away. Unfortunately he only played a couple of games before getting injured and is expected to be out for a week or two so the move has backfired on the Hornets at the moment.

The other move was a simple buyout. Knowing this, the Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to be compensated with a second round pick that won’t go to them unless the Hornets somehow make the Eastern Conference Finals.


Portland Trail Blazers

  • Got Jusuf Nurkic and a top-five protected first round pick in 2017 from the Denver Nuggets for Mason Plumlee, a 2018 second round pick, and cash

This was a very interesting trade as I did not expect the Portland Trail Blazers to part with a player who has been as valuable as Mason Plumlee.

Now what does this mean for Noah Vonleh? Well Jusuf Nurkic uses a lot more post-ups than Plumlee, and that might mean more open shots for Vonleh if Nurkic gets going and starts getting double-teamed. It has been 15 games since Vonleh attempted his last three-pointer and while I don’t expect him to start jacking up deep balls in the near future, this may be a chance to get some confidence from long range.

It will be very important that Vonleh improves playing with Nurkic because the Trail Blazers also received a first round pick in next year’s draft from the Nuggets, giving Portland potentially three of the first 30 picks this summer. It would be crazy to think the Trail Blazers wouldn’t draft someone to challenge Vonleh with one of those picks so Vonleh needs to start improving quickly.


Dallas Mavericks

  • Got Nerlens Noel from the Philadelphia 76ers for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson, and top-18 protected first round pick in 2017
  • Waived Deron Williams

While the most important move the Dallas Mavericks made this past week was trading for Nerlens Noel in hopes of him becoming Tyson Chandler 2.0, the move that affected former Hoosier Yogi Ferrell the most was management’s decision to waive Deron Williams and thus hand over the starting point guard position to Ferrell for at least the rest of the season.

While he already signed a two-year contract with the Mavs earlier in the month, whether that involves him starting or playing backup has yet to be determined. The early returns show a lot of positives for Ferrell becoming the long-term starter. He has averaged 13.2 points, 4.8 assists, and 1.6 steals in his nine starts and the Mavericks sport a 6-3 record in those games. Now that he has been given the chance, Ferrell just needs to keep up his level of play and he’ll remain the staring point guard going into next season.


Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Got Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second round pick from the Chicago Bulls for Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow, and Joffery Lauvergne

This was a huge trade for the Oklahoma City Thunder for multiple reasons. It gives a bench unit that has struggled two players that can score in double figures on any night. It adds depth up front and on the wing, two areas that were a little lacking.

Most importantly it signals that Victor Oladipo is about to have a much bigger role on the Thunder. The departure of Cameron Payne means that Semaj Christon is the backup point guard for those instances when Russell Westbrook needs to rest. While Christon is okay, this might be a chance for Oladipo to play the role of main ball handler again.

The addition of Doug McDermott also may allow Oladipo to move around the court more and get back to some of his slashing playstyle. The Thunder didn’t have a ton of three-point threats to space the floor and thus relied on Oladipo to stay along the perimeter to create that space. While it has led to an improved three-point shot from Oladipo, it has limited him from doing some of the other things he does well like drawing fouls on drives to the bucket or grabbing more rebounds. McDermott can potentially be that spacer that can let Oladipo show off some of his other skills.


Season Averages:

Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell: Guard, Dallas Mavericks:

9.5ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.4apg, 0.82spg, 0.18bpg, 1.6tpg, 1.8fpg, 40.9% FG, 37.2% 3FG, 80.0% FT, 24.6mpg (22 games)

Eric Gordon: Guard, Houston Rockets:

17.2ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.7apg, 0.63spg, 0.52bpg, 1.7tpg, 2.0fpg, 41.4% FG, 38.2% 3FG, 84.4% FT, 30.5mpg (54 games)

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder:

16.1ppg, 4.4rpg, 2.5apg, 1.23spg, 0.33bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.3fpg, 44.6% FG, 35.4% 3FG, 74.1% FT, 33.7mpg (48 games)

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

3.3ppg, 4.2rpg, 0.2apg, 0.32spg, 0.36bpg, 0.8tpg, 1.8fpg, 42.3% FG, 35.0% 3FG, 55.3% FT, 13.4mpg (50 games)

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

10.8ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.4apg, 0.77spg, 1.05bpg, 1.3tpg, 3.2fpg, 58.7% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 69.2% FT, 26.8mpg (39 games)

Hoosiers In The NBA: 2016-2017 Midseason Grades

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Even though All-Star Weekend is still a few weeks away, each team has already played more than half of their regular season games, meaning we have technically passed the halfway point of the season. Let’s take this time to grade how each former Hoosier is doing so far this season based on expectations coming into this season. Let’s start with the two rookies:


Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell: Guard, Brooklyn Nets/Dallas Mavericks:

Season Averages:

6.8ppg, 1.6rpg, 2.3apg, 0.67spg, 0.17bpg, 1.3tpg, 1.3fpg, 38.4% FG, 32.4% 3FG, 70.0% FT, 18.8mpg (12 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ San Antonio (W 105-101): 9 points (3-9 FG)(2-2 FT), 2 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 3 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

vs Cleveland (W 104-97): 19 points (7-15 FG)(2-2 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 38 minutes.

Midseason Review: After 10 decent but not that memorable games with the Brooklyn Nets, Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell was given a second chance this past weekend when he signed a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks. Since signing that contract he’s started two games and has led the last-place Mavericks to wins against the San Antonio Spurs and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

While he will likely see a big reduction in playing time once Deron Williams comes back, Ferrell’s two performances should warrant at minimum another 10-day contract from the Mavericks. He’s making the most of this opportunity after being limited during his stay with the Nets, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up signing a permanent contract either with the Mavericks or with another NBA team in need of solid point guard play.

Midseason Grade: B


Troy Williams: Forward, Memphis Grizzlies:

Season Averages:

5.3ppg, 1.8rpg, 0.8apg, 1.00spg, 0.38bpg, 1.1tpg, 1.8fpg, 41.8% FG, 24.4% 3FG, 60.0% FT, 17.4mpg (24 games)

Recent Game Logs:

N/A

Midseason Review: Like Ferrell, Troy Williams also had a chance to show off what he could do for the Memphis Grizzlies earlier in the season. While he held his own on the court, it wasn’t enough as he was buried on the bench when the Grizzlies became healthier and just this past week was released to make room for Toney Douglas.

However, that doesn’t mean Williams has had a bad season. While he still has a lot to work on, the fact that he averaged a steal per game is very impressive. He’s become a very hard worker and a serviceable defender. I expect the Grizzlies to call him back up to the roster before the end of the season if another team doesn’t pick him up on waivers before then.

Midseason Grade: C+


Eric Gordon: Guard, Houston Rockets:

Season Averages:

17.3ppg, 2.7rpg, 2.8apg, 0.60spg, 0.51bpg, 1.8tpg, 2.1fpg, 42.0% FG, 38.8% 3FG, 84.1% FT, 30.5mpg (47 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs New York (W 129-122): 15 points (5-19 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 32 minutes.

vs Washington (W 101-91): 31 points (11-18 FG)(3-4 FT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, block, 3 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

vs Oklahoma City (W 118-116): 22 points (8-20 FG)(1-1 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 29 minutes.

@ Orlando (W 100-93): 17 points (7-20 FG), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, 3 personal fouls, 32 minutes.

@ Toronto (W 129-122): 19 points (7-16 FG)(4-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, block, 2 personal fouls, 33 minutes.

vs Charlotte (W 121-114): DNP – injury

@ Minnesota (L 119-105): DNP – injury

vs Memphis (L 110-105): 13 points (4-11 FG)(2-2 FT), rebound, assist, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 31 minutes.

@ Brooklyn (W 137-112): 24 points (9-14 FG)(2-3 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

@ Miami (L 109-103): 7 points (3-17 FG), rebound, assist, block, 3 turnovers, 30 minutes.

vs Milwaukee (W 111-92): 25 points (9-20 FG), 4 rebounds, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 32 minutes.

vs Golden State (L 125-108): 6 points (2-14 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, turnover, personal foul, 33 minutes.

@ Memphis (W 119-95): 21 points (7-16 FG)(4-4 FT), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, steal, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

@ Milwaukee (L 127-114): 9 points (3-9 FG), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

@ Boston (L 120-109): DNP – injury

@ Philadelphia (W 123-118): DNP – injury

@ Indiana (L 120-101): 14 points (4-11 FG)(5-7 FT), rebound, 3 assists, block, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

Midseason Review: Eric Gordon has been a perfect fit in Houston as he is by far the leading candidate for Sixth Man Of The Year. His chemistry with James Harden has been awesome, and the way he’s turned the Rockets’ bench from a weakness to a strength has helped make this a dangerous team.

The only reason I’m not giving Gordon a perfect grade is because his performance has slipped the past month. In particular, he’s shot a shockingly bad 29.8% on three-pointers during the month of January and is attempting an astounding 10.3 deep balls a game.

He’s also missed four games in the last three weeks, which isn’t normally bad but considering Gordon’s injury history and the fact that he hadn’t missed a game until recently, there may be some worry about whether or not he’s slowing down. Overall he’s still having a phenomenal season but not enough for a perfect grade.

Midseason Grade: A


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder:

Season Averages:

16.2ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.6apg, 1.15spg, 0.31bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 45.3% FG, 37.3% 3FG, 69.8% FT, 34.0mpg (39 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs Los Angeles Clippers (W 114-88): 15 points (4-9 FG)(5-5 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 29 minutes.

@ Milwaukee (L 98-94): 18 points (7-12 FG), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 35 minutes.

@ Charlotte (L 123-112): 18 points (7-20 FG)(1-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, steal, 3 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ Houston (L 118-116): 17 points (6-16 FG)(1-2 FT), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 41 minutes.

vs Denver (W 121-106): 15 points (7-19 FG)(1-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, block, 3 personal fouls, 33 minutes.

@ Chicago (W 109-94): 13 points (6-9 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 25 minutes.

vs Memphis (W 103-95): 16 points (5-10 FG)(2-3 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, turnover, personal foul, 32 minutes.

@ Minnesota (L 96-86): 19 points (8-18 FG)(2-2 FT), 5 rebounds, steal, turnover, 33 minutes.

@ Sacramento (W 122-118): 23 points (7-14 FG)(8-8 FT), rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals, block, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 40 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Clippers (L 120-98): 6 points (3-11 FG), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, turnover, personal foul, 24 minutes.

@ Golden State (L 121-100): 20 points (8-17 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, block, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 37 minutes.

@ Utah (W 97-95): 18 points (8-11 FG)(1-2 FT), 4 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, 5 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

@ New Orleans (W 114-105): 15 points (5-11 FG)(2-3 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, turnover, personal foul, 35 minutes.

vs Dallas (W 109-98): 17 points (7-14 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ Cleveland (L 107-91): 17 points (6-18 FG)(4-5 FT), 7 rebounds, 4 assists, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 38 minutes.

Midseason Review: When Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder, a lot of people , including myself, thought Victor Oladipo would see a huge statistical jump as he became Russell Westbrook’s new running partner and maybe even get some All-Star buzz.

Instead we have a slightly overall improved Oladipo with a greatly improved three-point shot. Now to be fair, I don’t think many predicted that Westbrook would put forth a superhuman effort and sustain it through an entire season like he’s currently doing. As a result, there aren’t as many extra points to go around as first thought.

The next step for Oladipo is to become more aggressive and earn Westbrook’s trust enough to help burden the scoring load. That likely won’t happen this season as Westbrook looks like a man on a mission to prove he can carry a team by himself, but little by little we’re seeing Oladipo and Westbrook connect and soon we may get that All-Star level play from Oladipo. But for now Oladipo gets credit for his most efficient shooting season of his career.

Midseason Grade: B-


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Season Averages:

3.4ppg, 3.8rpg, 0.2apg, 0.37spg, 0.34bpg, 0.7tpg, 1.6fpg, 42.2% FG, 35.0% 3FG, 62.2% FT, 12.6mpg (41 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Minnesota (W 95-89): 0 points (0-0 FG), rebound, 2 personal fouls, 7 minutes.

@ Golden State (L 125-117): 2 points (1-3 FG), 4 rebounds, 7 minutes.

vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 118-109): 0 points (0-1 FG)(0-2 FT), rebound, turnover, personal foul, 4 minutes.

vs Detroit (L 125-124): 0 points (0-0 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 13 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Lakers (W 108-87): 0 points (0-0 FG), personal foul, 6 minutes.

vs Cleveland (W 102-86): 2 points (0-1 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, block, personal foul, 4 minutes.

vs Orlando (L 115-109): DNP – coach’s decision

@ Washington (L 120-101): 10 points (4-5 FG)(2-5 FT), 8 rebounds, assist, personal foul, 20 minutes.

@ Charlotte (L 107-85): 4 points (2-10 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 18 minutes.

@ Philadelphia (L 93-92): 10 points (4-6 FG)(1-3 FT), 5 rebounds, steal, 3 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

@ Boston (W 127-123): 8 points (4-8 FG), 6  rebounds, 3 steals, 2 turnovers, 6 personal fouls, 17 minutes.

vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 105-98): 8 points (4-6 FG), 10 rebounds, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 20 minutes.

vs Memphis (W 112-109): 0 points (0-1 FG), 3 rebounds, 4 personal fouls, 16 minutes.

vs Golden State (L 113-111): 4 points (2-4 FG), 5 rebounds, assist, steal, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 18 minutes.

Midseason Review: Until recently, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed in Noah Vonleh’s progress. He was playing fewer minutes and was abandoning the three-point shot altogether. Thankfully things have changed recently.

Last season, Vonleh was placed in the starting lineup to carve out playing time for him and also to get his game going. The result was 4.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game on 42.2% shooting during his 56 starts compared to 2.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game on 41.7% shooting coming off the bench.

Two weeks ago, Vonleh was again placed in the starting lineup to get him going and he’s shown a much larger improvement in the role this season. During his nine starts, he’s averaging 5.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game on 46.2% shooting compared to 2.7 points and 3.0 rebounds on 39.5% shooting coming off the bench. While not a huge jump from last season, it is the first noticeable improvement we’ve seen out of Vonleh this season and hopefully points to more improvement down the road.

Midseason Grade: C


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Season Averages:

10.9ppg, 6.6rpg, 1.4apg, 0.74spg, 1.08bpg, 1.2tpg, 3.2fpg, 59.0% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 68.9% FT, 26.9mpg (38 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs Cleveland (L 121-109): 6 points (3-3 FG), rebound, 3 assists, block, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 19 minutes.

@ Chicago (L 118-111): DNP – concussion

vs Oklahoma City (W 123-112): DNP – concussion

@ Detroit (L 115-114): DNP – concussion

@ San Antonio (L 102-85): 9 points (3-5 FG)(3-4 FT), 9 rebounds, assist, steal, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 33 minutes.

@ Houston (L 121-114): DNP – illness

@ Philadelphia (L 102-93): 16 points (6-14 FG)(4-4 FT), 10 rebounds, assist, 3 steals, block, 3 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ Boston (L 108-98): 13 points (5-7 FG)(3-4 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, block, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 31 minutes.

vs Portland (W 107-85): 6 points (3-7 FG), 10 rebounds, block, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 25 minutes.

vs Toronto (W 113-78): 11 points (4-6 FG)(3-4 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

vs Brooklyn (W 112-105): 12 points (5-7 FG)(2-2 FT), 9 rebounds, 3 assists, block, personal foul, 31 minutes.

vs Washington (L 109-99): 13 points (4-7 FG)(5-5 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 6 personal fouls, 35 minutes.

vs Golden State (L 113-103): DNP – injury

@ New York (L 110-107): DNP – injury

vs Sacramento (L 109-106): DNP – injury

Midseason Review: Finally out of the shadow of Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller is flourishing as the starting center of the Charlotte Hornets. In fact he’s starting to play like the Cody Zeller that all Indiana Hoosier fans remember fondly.

A master of setting screens, Zeller helps the Hornets offense flow and serves as the perfect pick-and-roll partner for Kemba Walker. He’s also finally shooting at a high rate as his 59% shooting is such a drastic improvement from the 42.6% he shot three years ago during his rookie season. He’s also averaging double-digit points for the first time in his NBA career.

The only negative is that all the extra playing time has led to Zeller taking a bigger beating than usual and the result is 10 missed games. He’s shown he has the skill to be a good center in this league, but can he physically keep up against bigger guys? I think he will eventually but right now he’s getting accustomed to handling the bigger responsibility.

Midseason Grade: B+

Hoosiers In The NBA: Mega December Recap

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA! 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:


It’s been awhile since we last checked in on our former Indiana Hoosiers currently playing in the NBA (a month to be specific) so to make up for it I will be giving a recap of what each Hoosier did in the month of December. It was a busy month that contained D-League transfers, injuries, and award-caliber play. So without further ado, let’s get started with the two players who are currently not playing in the NBA at the moment.


Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell: Guard, Brooklyn Nets:

Season Averages:

5.4ppg, 1.2rpg, 1.7apg, 0.20spg, 0.20bpg, 1.4tpg, 1.1fpg, 36.7% FG, 29.6% 3FG, 62.5% FT, 15.2mpg (10 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs Milwaukee (L 111-93): 2 points (1-1 FG), 3 minutes.

@ Milwaukee (L 112-103): DNP – coach’s decision

vs Washington (L 118-113): DNP – coach’s decision

vs Denver (W 116-111): DNP – coach’s decision

 

Everyone knew Yogi Ferrell’s stay in the NBA would be temporary this time around and after 10 decent games he returned to the Brooklyn Nets’ D-League affiliate.

Yet you can tell that his short time in the NBA had a positive affect on his game as he’s been great playing for the Long Island Nets. In eight games, Ferrell is averaging 19.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. In addition, he’s shooting 47% from the floor and 39.6% from three-point range. If Ferrell can continue to play like he did this month, you can expect the Nets to move him back to NBA sooner rather than later.


Troy Williams: Forward, Memphis Grizzlies:

Season Averages:

5.3ppg, 1.8rpg, 0.8apg, 1.00spg, 0.38bpg, 1.1tpg, 1.8fpg, 41.8% FG, 24.4% 3FG, 60.0% FT, 17.4mpg (24 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Toronto (L 120-105): 10 points (4-10 FG)(2-3 FT), 2 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

vs Orlando (W 95-94): 5 points (2-13 FG), 2 rebounds, assist, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 35 minutes.

vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 103-100): 7 points (3-8 FG), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers, personal foul, 35 minutes.

@ New Orleans (W 110-108): 11 points (5-9 FG), 4 rebounds, assist, steal, turnover, 20 minutes.

vs Philadelphia (W 96-91): 8 points (4-6 FG), 3 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, block, 4 personal fouls, 31 minutes.

vs Portland (W 88-86): 0 points (0-3 FG), 5 rebounds, 2 steals, block, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 20 minutes.

vs Golden State (W 110-89): 11 points (4-7 FG)(2-2 FT), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 3 personal fouls, 19 minutes.

@ Cleveland (L 103-86): 13 points (6-16 FG), 6 rebounds, assist, 3 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

vs Cleveland (W 93-85): 3 points (1-4 FG), 2 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 19 minutes.

vs Sacramento (L 96-92): 2 points (1-3 FG), rebound, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 16 minutes.

vs Utah (L 82-73): 0 points (0-0 FG), steal, turnover, personal foul, 5 minutes.

vs Boston (L 112-109): DNP – coach’s decision

@ Detroit (W 98-86): 0 points (0-0 FG), 1 minute.

 

Although Troy Williams went from NBA starter to playing in the D-League during the course of December, it was actually a very positive month for the undrafted rookie.

Williams showed some promise as a starter, averaging 8.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.5 steals in 13 starts for the Memphis Grizzlies. However, there are still many things he needs to work on and that’s why he’s now playing for the Iowa Energy.

This is actually a great sign as the Grizzlies like what they see from Williams and want him to continue to develop. Unfortunately on a healthy Grizzlies team there just isn’t enough playing time for Williams to get the necessary experience to improve his game, as he has only played an average of 5.7 minutes during the 11 games he has come off the bench. WIth the Iowa Energy he will have all the tools and playing time to work on his game, and you can already see the results as he’s averaging 24.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.7 steals in 27.8 minutes through his first three games in the D-League.


Eric Gordon: Guard, Houston Rockets:

Season Averages:

17.4ppg, 2.7rpg, 2.9apg, 0.68spg, 0.53bpg, 1.9tpg, 2.0fpg, 43.6% FG, 43.0% 3FG, 83.8% FT, 30.4mpg (34 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Golden State (W 132-127): 23 points (9-19 FG)(1-1 FT), rebound, 5 assists, steal, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

@ Denver (W 128-110): 18 points (6-13 FG)(2-4 FT), 2 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, 24 minutes.

vs Boston (W 107-106): 19 points (6-11 FG)(3-4 FT), rebound, 3 assists, 2 blocks, turnover, personal foul, 31 minutes.

vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 134-95): 26 points (9-13 FG), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 24 minutes.

@ Oklahoma City (W 102-99): 17 points (5-10 FG)(4-4 FT), rebound, 3 assists, steal, turnover, personal foul, 33 minutes.

vs Dallas (W 109-87): 18 points (6-14 FG), rebound, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

vs Brooklyn (W 122-118): 24 points (7-15 FG)(4-6 FT), assist, steal, 6 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 29 minutes.

vs Sacramento (W 132-98): 9 points (3-12 FG), 2 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks, 2 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

vs New Orleans (W 122-100): 29 points (10-17 FG)(2-2 FT), rebound, assist, steal, block, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 28 minutes.

@ Minnesota (W 111-109): 20 points (7-15 FG)(2-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

vs San Antonio (L 102-100): 13 points (4-15 FG)(4-4 FT), rebound, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 33 minutes.

@ Phoenix (W 125-111): 24 points (8-17 FG)(1-2 FT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 4 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

@ Memphis (L 115-109): 17 points (6-19 FG)(1-1 FT), 2 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, block, turnover, personal foul, 32 minutes.

vs Phoenix (W 131-115): 15 points (5-13 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, steal, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

@ Dallas (W 123-107): 13 points (4-9 FG)(3-3 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 27 minutes.

vs Los Angeles Clippers (W 140-116): 19 points (5-7 FG)(5-5 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, block, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 24 minutes.

 

In my last Hoosiers In The NBA article, I went over how Eric Gordon was successfully transitioning into the Houston Rockets’ sixth man. Since then, not only has Gordon continued to excel in that role, but he’s also become one of the early favorites for the Sixth Man of the Year award.

Gordon is averaging 17.9 points per game in just 29.8 minutes. While that is quite impressive, the main reason he’s become one of the top contenders is because of his ridiculous three-point shooting. Gordon made the transition two seasons ago to becoming a three-point specialist when he made a career-high 44.8% from deep. This season he’s nearing that rate as he’s made 43% of his attempts. In December alone, his long-range efficiency went to another level as he attempted 9.3 three-pointers per game and made 47% of them.

Add in the fact that the Rockets are 21-5 with Gordon coming off the bench compared to 4-4 with him starting, and you’ll have a tough task finding anyone more deserving of “Best Sixth Man” than Gordon right now.


*Victor Oladipo: Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder:

Season Averages:

16.1ppg, 4.5rpg, 2.8apg, 0.92spg, 0.29bpg, 1.8tpg, 1.8fpg, 45.5% FG, 38.1% 3FG, 62.0% FT, 34.3mpg (24 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs Washington (W 126-115): 25 points (10-16 FG), 6 rebounds, 6 assists, steal, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 45 minutes.

vs New Orleans (W 101-92): 15 points (6-15 FG)(2-7 FT), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, 35 minutes.

@ Atlanta (W 102-99): 14 points (6-15 FG), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

vs Houston (L 102-99): 12 points (5-13 FG), 7 rebounds, assist, 3 turnovers, personal foul, 38 minutes.

vs Boston (W 99-96): 0 points (0-2 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 10 minutes.

@ Portland (L 114-95): DNP – injury

@ Utah (L 109-89): DNP – injury

vs Phoenix (W 114-101): DNP – injury

vs Atlanta (L 110-108): DNP – injury

@ New Orleans (W 121-110): DNP – injury

@ Boston (W 117-112): DNP – injury

vs Minnesota (W 112-100): DNP – injury

@ Miami (W 106-94): DNP – injury

@ Memphis (L 114-80): DNP – injury

 

Near the end of November, it felt like Victor Oladipo was finally getting comfortable playing with all of his new teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder. The dynamic backcourt of Oladipo and Russell Westbrook was starting to spark.

Unfortunately that was short-lived as Oladipo injured his shooting wrist on December 11th and hasn’t played a game since. Amazingly enough the team continues to chug along with Westbrook playing even more superhuman than before.

However with nine missed games and counting, you have to worry about whether or not Oladipo will continue his development where he left off or if this wrist injury will linger the rest of the season and prevent us from seeing the full potential of the Westbrook-Oladipo show. In my opinion, I actually think it’s a good sign that the Thunder haven’t let him play yet as maybe they’re waiting until he’s 100% before bringing him back so the injury doesn’t linger.


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Season Averages:

3.2ppg, 3.6rpg, 0.2apg, 0.36spg, 0.39bpg, 0.9tpg, 1.5fpg, 39.8% FG, 31.6% 3FG, 72.0% FT, 12.2mpg (28 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs Indiana (W 131-109): 2 points (1-1 FG), rebound, assist, 2 minutes.

vs Miami (W 99-92): 1 point (0-0 FG)(1-2 FT), 2 rebounds, personal foul, 4 minutes.

@ Chicago (W 112-110): DNP – coach’s decision

@ Milwaukee (L 115-107): DNP – coach’s decision

@ Memphis (L 88-86): 0 points (0-1 FG), assist, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 7 minutes.

@ Indiana (L 118-111): 6 points (2-2 FG)(2-2 FT), 2 rebounds, personal fouls, 7 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Clippers (L 121-120): 2 points (1-3 FG), 4 rebounds, steal, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 15 minutes.

vs Oklahoma City (W 114-95): 5 points (2-4 FG)(1-2 FT), 5 rebounds, steal, block, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 19 minutes.

@ Denver (L 132-120): 6 points (3-8 FG), 7 rebounds, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 18 minutes.

@ Golden State (L 135-90): 6 points (3-7 FG)(0-2 FT), 8 rebounds, steal, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 24 minutes.

@ Sacramento (L 126-121): 0 points (0-0 FG), 4 rebounds, steal, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 10 minutes.

vs Dallas (L 96-95): DNP – coach’s decision

vs San Antonio (L 110-90): 5 points (1-3 FG)(3-4 FT), 4 rebounds, steal, turnover, personal foul, 18 minutes.

vs Toronto (L 95-91): 5 points (2-5 FG)(1-2 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 15 minutes.

vs Sacramento (W 102-89): 4 points (1-3 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, steal, block, turnover, 17 minutes.

@ San Antonio (L 110-94): 2 points (1-1 FG), 2 rebounds, 9 minutes.

 

Aside from a couple of starts in the middle of the month because of frontcount injuries, there wasn’t anything noteworthy that happened to Noah Vonleh in December. However, when you look at Vonleh’s season as a whole you’ll find a very interesting trend.

His three-point shooting has completely disappeared, as Vonleh only attempted one long ball during the month of December. The last time Vonleh made a three-pointer was on November 17th against the Houston Rockets, which also marks the last time he attempted more than one three-pointer in a game. One of the biggest skills Vonleh had going for him as a prospect was the ability to shoot from long range and thus play stretch forward or even a small-ball center. Now Portland is using Vonleh like a traditional big man, and while it may just be a short-term position, seeing Vonleh’s three-point attempts fall from 16 in November to just one in December is a bit eye-popping.


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Season Averages:

10.9ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.4apg, 0.70spg, 1.07bpg, 1.1tpg, 3.2fpg, 59.0% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 65.1% FT, 26.3mpg (30 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs Dallas (W 97-87): 6 points (3-5 FG), 7 rebounds, assist, block, 2 personal fouls, 31 minutes.

vs Minnesota (L 125-120): 6 points (3-7 FG), 9 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 4 blocks, 3 personal fouls, 35 minutes.

@ Dallas (W 109-101): 12 points (5-5 FG)(2-2 FT), 2 rebounds, assist, block, 3 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

vs Detroit (W 87-77): 9 points (2-9 FG)(5-7 FT), 6 rebounds, block, 3 personal fouls, 32 minutes.

vs Orlando (W 109-88): 9 points (4-5 FG)(1-2 FT), 7 rebounds, assist, steal, turnover, personal foul, 22 minutes.

@ Cleveland (L 116-105): 17 points (7-8 FG)(3-4 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 5 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

@ Indiana (L 110-94): 8 points (4-9 FG), 7 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 31 minutes.

@ Washington (L 109-106): 18 points (6-7 FG)(6-8 FT), 2 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

@ Boston (L 96-88): 2 points (1-7 FG), 10 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, 3 blocks, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 27 minutes.

@ Atlanta (W 107-99): 16 points (8-14 FG), 11 rebounds, assist, steal, 2 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 117-113): 11 points (4-8 FG)(3-4 FT), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 25 minutes.

vs Chicago (W 103-91): 13 points (5-9 FG)(3-4 FT), 7 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, 2 blocks, turnover, personal foul, 32 minutes.

@ Brooklyn (L 120-118): 15 points (7-11 FG)(1-2 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 5 personal fouls, 29 minutes.

@ Orlando (W 120-101): 10 points (4-6 FG)(2-2 FT), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, turnover, 24 minutes.

vs Miami (W 91-82): 9 points (3-4 FG)(3-6 FT), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, block, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 33 minutes.

 

Cody Zeller continues to grow into the position of starting center for the Charlotte Hornets, and he also proved that his career-best season wasn’t an early-season fluke.

Zeller averaged 10.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.1 blocks during the month of December, and while those stats are all pretty good for what is asked of him, the most important average Zeller put up was the 28.9 minutes per game.

With a career average of 22.1 minutes per game, Zeller has always had to split time at center with another player. The first three years it was Al Jefferson, and even though I thought Zeller wouldn’t have to split minutes with anyone this season, the Hornets made it clear in the preseason that Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes would split time with Zeller. Yet after a month where all three were healthy and Zeller still posted the his highest minutes per game in a single month, it seems like Zeller is finally getting the playing time he deserves.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Gordon’s Success As A Sixth Man

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Stat Comparison: Gordon As A Starter Vs Gordon As A Reserve

When James Harden moved to point guard, the idea of starting him along with Eric Gordon became a very intriguing idea from an offensive standpoint. However, with both players being less than stellar defenders it made more sense to have a plus defender start alongside Harden.

With Patrick Beverly finally healthy and Gordon fully entrenched in his role as sixth man, I wanted to compare Gordon’s performance as a starter to his performance off the bench:

Gordon as a starter: 15.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 39.6% FG, 36.1% 3FG, 32.3 minutes (8 games)

Gordon off the bench: 16.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 43.3% FG, 40.7% 3FG, 30.6 minutes (10 games)

One of the first things that stands out is that while Gordon’s statistical numbers are similar in both roles, the Houston Rockets have a much better record when Gordon comes off the bench, going 7-3 in those games compared to just 4-4 in games where Gordon starts.

Gordon has also had his best games this season when playing the role of sixth man, as four of his five 20+ point games have come in games he hasn’t started.

At the end of the day, the Rockets’ success will be tied to how well Harden plays, but it’s worth noting that Gordon is turning into a big asset for the Rockets as a secondary scorer coming off the bench.


Williams’s Chance To Start

The Memphis Grizzlies went through an injury apocalypse last season and this season isn’t starting off any better as the recent injury to Mike Conley is yet another blow to a promising team that is already without some key players.

For Troy Williams it’s somewhat bittersweet as two of those injured teammates are the players ahead of him on the depth chart (Chandler Parsons and James Ennis). As a result, Williams has been given the opportunity to start the past two games and will likely get a few more starts before one or both return in the next week or two.

During his second career start and first since November 1st, Williams played a huge role in helping the Grizzlies beat the Miami Heat as he scored a career-high 18 points, including two clutch three-pointers in the fourth quarter that put the Grizzlies ahead.

While he’ll likely be relegated back to the bench soon, there’s a lot of hope that his performance these few starts will give him the confidence to make a bigger impact when comes off the bench in the future.


Eric Gordon: Guard, Houston Rockets:

Season Averages:

16.0ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.4apg, 0.72spg, 0.50bpg, 1.9tpg, 2.2fpg, 41.7% FG, 38.7% 3FG, 82.5% FT, 31.4mpg (18 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Oklahoma City (L 105-103): 13 points (5-20 FG), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, block, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

vs Portland (W 126-109): 16 points (6-15 FG)(2-3 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

vs Utah (W 111-102): 20 points (7-16 FG)(2-2 FT), 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 37 minutes.

@ Detroit (W 99-96): 0 points (0-5 FG), rebound, 2 assists, steal, block, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 29 minutes.

vs Toronto (L 115-102): 9 points (4-13 FG), rebound, 2 assists, steal, block, 4 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

@ Sacramento (W 117-104): 14 points (5-13 FG), 2 rebounds, assist, steal, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 29 minutes.

@ Portland (W 130-114): 26 points (9-15 FG)(2-3 FT), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, turnover, personal foul, 30 minutes.

@ Utah (L 120-101): 24 points (8-17 FG)(4-5 FT), 2 rebounds, assist, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 32 minutes.


Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell: Guard, Brooklyn Nets:

Season Averages:

5.8ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.9apg, 0.22spg, 0.22bpg, 1.6tpg, 1.2fpg, 35.4% FG, 29.6% 3FG, 62.5% FT, 16.6mpg (9 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Oklahoma City (L 124-105): 6 points (1-5 FG)(4-4 FT), 4 rebounds, assist, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 19 minutes.

vs Portland (L 129-109): 0 points (0-3 FG), assist, 12 minutes.

vs Boston (L 111-92): 0 points (0-3 FG), rebound, 8 minutes.

@ Indiana (L 118-97): 10 points (3-9 FG)(2-4 FT), 2 rebounds, steal, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

vs Sacramento (L 122-105): 5 points (2-6 FG), rebound, assist, block, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 17 minutes.

vs Los Angeles Clippers (W 127-122): DNP – coach’s decision


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder:

Season Averages:

16.8ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.8apg, 1.00spg, 0.37bpg, 1.7tpg, 1.9fpg, 46.0% FG, 40.2% 3FG, 67.4% FT, 34.6mpg (19 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs Houston (W 105-103): 29 points (12-18 FG), 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 40 minutes.

vs Brooklyn (W 124-105): 26 points (11-17 FG)(1-1 FT), 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

vs Indiana (L 115-111): 14 points (6-14 FG), 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 4 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 38 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Lakers (L 111-109): 14 points (6-13 FG), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, block, 3 turnovers, personal foul, 39 minutes.

@ Sacramento (L 116-101): 18 points (7-15 FG)(1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ Denver (W 132-129): 26 points (11-19 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, turnover, personal foul, 42 minutes.

vs Detroit (W 106-88): 18 points (6-10 FG)(3-6 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 2 personal fouls, 33 minutes.

@ New York (W 112-103): 8 points (4-11 FG), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, block, 2 personal fouls, 31 minutes.


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Season Averages:

3.1ppg, 3.4rpg, 0.1apg, 0.27spg, 0.47bpg, 0.9tpg, 1.5fpg, 35.6% FG, 33.3% 3FG, 88.9% FT, 11.7mpg (15 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Houston (L 126-109): 9 points (3-5 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, 16 minutes.

@ New Orleans (L 113-101): 0 points (0-1 FG), 6 rebounds, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 16 minutes.

@ Brooklyn (W 129-109): 2 points (1-1 FG), 3 rebounds, steal, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 6 personal fouls, 15 minutes.

@ New York (L 107-103): 2 points (0-0 FG)(2-2 FT), 2 rebounds, block, 2 turnovers, 6 minutes.

@ Cleveland (L 137-125): 0 points (0-2 FG), 5 rebounds, turnover, personal foul, 14 minutes.

vs New Orleans (W119-104): 0 points (0-2 FG), rebound, assist, steal, 5 minutes.

vs Houston (L 130-114): DNP – coach’s decision


Troy Williams: Forward, Memphis Grizzlies:

Season Averages:

4.8ppg, 1.1rpg, 0.7apg, 0.58spg, 0.17bpg, 0.7tpg, 1.3fpg, 48.8% FG, 30.8% 3FG, 55.0% FT, 12.8mpg (12 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Los Angeles Clippers (W 111-107): 2 points (1-1 FG), assist, steal, personal foul, 9 minutes.

@ Dallas (W 80-64): 0 points (0-0 FG), turnover, 2 minutes.

vs Minnesota (W 93-71): 2 points (1-1 FG), personal foul, 2 minutes.

@ Charlotte (W 105-90): 0 points (0-1 FG), 4 minutes.

@ Philadelphia (W 104-99): DNP – coach’s decision

vs Miami (L 90-81): 9 points (4-8 FG)(0-2 FT), 6 rebounds, steal, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 20 minutes.

@ Miami (W 110-107): 18 points (6-12 FG)(4-6 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 35 minutes.

vs Charlotte (L 104-85): 9 points (4-9 FG)(1-3 FT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 31 minutes.


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Season Averages:

11.1ppg, 5.8rpg, 1.3apg, 0.53spg, 1.07bpg, 0.8tpg, 3.3fpg, 60.2% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 61.8% FT, 23.6mpg (15 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs Atlanta (W 100-96): 23 points (9-10 FG)(5-7 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 3 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 31 minutes.

@ New Orleans (L 121-116): DNP – injury

vs Memphis (L 105-90): DNP – injury

vs San Antonio (L 119-114): DNP – injury

@ New York (L 113-111): 15 points (7-10 FG)(1-4 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

vs New York (W 107-102): 11 points (2-7 FG)(7-12 FT), 10 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 2 blocks, 5 personal fouls, 25 minutes.

@ Memphis (W 104-85): 3 points (1-3 FG)(1-2 FT), 8 rebounds, assist, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

vs Detroit (L 112-89): 8 points (4-6 FG), 10 rebounds, steal, block, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Oladipo And Zeller Earn Contract Extensions

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:


It was an eventful first week of the season as Victor Oladipo and Eric Gordon played their first games with their new teams and Troy Williams played his first NBA game and later got his first NBA start.

Yet the biggest news came off the court as Cody Zeller as well as Oladipo received contract extensions that will keep them on their current teams for the foreseeable future .

This week I will go over both extensions and explain whether or not the deal was a good one or not. Just a fair reminder that due to the salary cap increase, these numbers will seem incredibly inflated but just know that these types of contracts will be the norm in the future. Also the weekly game logs and season averages will be at the end of the article.


Oladipo signs 4-year $84 million extension with Oklahoma City Thunder

Ever since they lost Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder have made it their number one goal to lock up all of their best talent, starting with Russell Westbrook. This week they locked up two more core pieces as both Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams were given four-year contract extensions, thus preventing both from becoming restricted free agents next offseason.

What’s interesting is that Adams ended up getting a bigger deal than Oladipo. While Oladipo will earn $84 million over the course of his extension, Adams will get $100 million over that same timespan.

At first glance this seems a little confusing but it makes a lot more sense when you look at the NBA as a whole. Adams has already proven to be a great defensive center and just came off a playoff appearance where he flashed great offensive potential. Meanwhile, Oladipo is proving to be a great defensive guard and secondary ball-handler, but his inconsistent shooting has prevented him from reaching his offensive potential. Add in the fact that great centers are harder to find than great wings and the two deals seem just right.

That being said, if Oladipo is able to reach his offensive potential over the course of his new contract while maintaining his defensive excellence, he could end up earning an even better deal down the line. For now, the contract he just signed suits him perfectly.

Zeller signs 4-year $56 million extension with Charlotte Hornets

At first I thought this deal was a little low for Zeller, but the more I thought about it, the more the contract made sense.

While Zeller is expected to take full control of the center position this season, it hasn’t happened yet (due to missing practice time in the preseason because of injury) plus he’s always been in and out of the starting lineup during his time with the Charlotte Hornets. The team definitely sees Zeller as a key piece moving forward but if someone like Frank Kaminsky for example ends up developing into an elite shooting big man, will the Hornets really want to spend more for Zeller if he’s splitting time at center or becomes a key reserve?

It should also be mentioned that Zeller will already make more than teammate team captain Kemba Walker next year (again, a side effect of the huge salary cap spike) so in a way you could say Zeller is getting a pretty generous deal already.


Eric Gordon: Guard, Houston Rockets:

Season Averages:

16.8ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.5apg, 1.00spg, 0.00bpg, 2.0tpg, 2.3fpg, 42.3% FG, 35.5% 3FG, 85.7% FT, 33.3mpg (4 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Los Angeles Lakers (L 120-114): 19 points (7-15 FG)(3-4 FT), 5 rebounds, steal, turnover, personal foul, 34 minutes.

@ Dallas (W 106-98): 18 points (4-9 FG)(7-8 FT), 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 33 minutes.

vs Dallas (W 93-92): 14 points (5-15 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, steal, 3 turnovers, personal foul, 33 minutes.

@ Cleveland (L 128-120): 16 points (6-13 FG), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 33 minutes.


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder:

Season Averages:

17.0ppg, 3.7rpg, 2.3apg, 1.00spg, 0.67bpg, 3.3tpg, 2.3fpg, 34.0% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 84.6% FT, 36.0mpg (3 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Philadelphia (W 103-97): 10 points (4-16 FG)(2-3 FT), 5 rebounds, assist, block, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

vs Phoenix (W 113-110 OT): 21 points (7-17 FG)(6-7 FT), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, block, 4 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 44 minutes.

vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 113-96): 20 points (7-20 FG)(3-3 FT), rebound, 4 assists, steal, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 38 minutes.


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Season Averages:

5.8ppg, 1.5rpg, 0.0apg, 0.25spg, 0.25bpg, 0.5tpg, 1.0fpg, 53.3% FG, 42.9% 3FG, 80.0% FT, 11.3mpg (4 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs Utah (W 113-104): 11 points (5-5 FG), rebound, block, personal foul, 16 minutes.

vs Los Angeles Clippers (L 114-106): 6 points (1-3 FG)(4-5 FT), turnover, 3 personal fouls, 10 minutes.

@ Denver (W 115-113): 0 points (0-0 FG), 4 rebounds, 7 minutes.

vs Golden State (L 127-104): 6 points (2-7 FG), rebound, steal, turnover, 12 minutes.


Troy Williams: Forward, Memphis Grizzlies:

Season Averages:

5.7ppg, 0.7rpg, 0.7apg, 1.33spg, 0.33bpg, 1.0tpg, 1.3fpg, 55.6% FG, 33.3% 3FG, 66.7% FT, 13.3mpg (3 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs Minnesota (W 102-98): DNP – Coach’s Decision

@ New York (L 111-104): 3 points (1-2 FG)(0-2 FT), assist, 2 steals, personal foul, 9 minutes.

vs Washington (W 112-103): 0 points (0-0 FG), personal foul, 1 minute.

@ Minnesota (L 116-80): 14 points (4-7 FG)(6-7 FT), 2 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, block, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 30 minutes.


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Season Averages:

10.7ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.0apg, 0.67spg, 1.67bpg, 1.0tpg, 3.3fpg, 61.1% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 66.7% FT, 19.7mpg (3 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Milwaukee (W 107-96): 15 points (5-6 FG)(5-6 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, turnover, 5 personal fouls, 14 minutes.

@ Miami (W 97-91): 10 points (4-8 FG)(2-3 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

vs Boston (L 104-98): 7 points (2-4 FG)(3-6 FT), 9 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

Hoosiers In The NBA 2016-2017 Season Preview

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:


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.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Gordon’s Fit In Houston And All Other Free Agent Deals That Affect Former Hoosiers

Welcome to offseason coverage of Hoosiers In The NBA! Today I will be recapping how the first weekend of free agency affected almost every former Hoosier, including how well Eric Gordon will fit on the Houston Rockets. 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 and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:


The first weekend of free agency is in the books and already a lot of important moves were made. Even though only one former Hoosier moved teams this weekend, almost all of them were affected by their teams either signing or not signing certain free agents. So for this edition of Hoosiers In The NBA, I will look at every former Hoosier and discuss how they were affected by the last 96 hours.


How Gordon Fits In Houston

Initially I thought Eric Gordon’s poor overall shooting percentage (41.8%) and two finger injuries (37 games missed) last year would limit him to only getting a one-year deal in free agency for around $5 to 8 million, but it seems I underestimated the salary cap increase.

Instead, Gordon has signed a four-year contract with the Houston Rockets worth $53 million.  That deal is almost identical to his last contract (four years, $58 million back in 2012) despite the fact Gordon has missed 116 games since he signed his last deal.

However, when Gordon has been healthy he has proven to be one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA, shooting 39.5% (411 of 1040) from long-range during the past four seasons. That’s why Gordon was a no-brainer for Houston, especially now that Mike D’Antoni is the head coach.

Famed coach of the mid-2000s Phoenix Suns “Seven Seconds Or Less” Offense, D’Antoni looks to replicate that in Houston with James Harden as the focal point. Here is a link to an explanation of how D’Antoni’s fast break offense operates, but basically Gordon would be an ideal corner shooter for Harden to drive-and-kick to. The Rockets also signed Ryan Anderson to fill the role of stretch-four.

If Gordon can stay healthy, he could play a vital role in helping the Rockets get back to the playoffs. If he doesn’t start, I could see him play the role of sixth man, where he can relieve Harden for stretches and play with him during crunch time.


Oladipo’s Success In OKC Now A Mystery

Unfortunately the idea of seeing Victor Oladipo play on a title-contender was short-lived after Kevin Durant decided to sign with the Golden State Warriors. Now his new team is one big decision away from potentially being in the same position his old team was in during his whole career.

The Oklahoma City Thunder need to try and get Russell Westbrook to sign a contract extension or else they may have to trade him so they don’t lose him for nothing like they did with Durant. If Westbrook stays, the Thunder should still make the playoffs and Oladipo could become the second-best player on the team. If Westbrook is traded, Oladipo will be in the same situation he was in during his three seasons with Orlando. This will definitely be a something that will require monitoring over the coming days and weeks.


Charlotte Chooses To Build Around Zeller

Last season Cody Zeller proved that not only could he be a good NBA center, but also proved that he was the exact type of center the Charlotte Hornets needed to run their offense effectively.

Those beliefs were backed up this past weekend when the Hornets let Al Jefferson leave for the Indiana Pacers. For most of his time in Charlotte, Jefferson was the starting center and the best offensive player on the Hornets. Yet when the offense started to click with Zeller filling in for an injured Jefferson, there looked like there might be a changing of the guard but nothing was for sure. With Jefferson now out of the picture, Zeller is now the unquestionable choice at center.

For anyone wondering, the signing of Roy Hibbert will not affect Zeller at all. Hibbert was signed only for depth purposes as Zeller was the only center on the Hornets’ roster.


Vonleh Still In Portland’s Plans For Now

Technically the Portland Trail Blazers haven’t made a free agent move that directly affects Noah Vonleh. Yet the fact they haven’t made such a move does affect Vonleh when you consider the circumstances.

After making a surprising run to the playoffs, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see the Trail Blazers try to sign a veteran power forward to help sustain the team’s success. They tried and failed with Pau Gasol, but other than that the Trail Blazers haven’t been looking for someone who would prevent Vonleh from competing for the starting power forward position next season. There’s still a chance that kind of player could still get signed in the days to come, but for now it looks like that, despite a shaky season, Portland still believes in Vonleh.


Ferrell’s Path To Make The Nets’ NBA Roster Just Got Harder

One look at the Phoenix Suns’ roster and you can tell Troy Williams will have an uphill battle to make the team’s NBA roster with players like P.J. Tucker, Brandon Knight, and Devin Booker headlining a loaded logjam at wing.

Yet there was hope for Yogi Ferrell when he signed with the Brooklyn Nets for summer league. With the team’s giant hole at the point guard position, it became plausible that Ferrell could end up being the Nets’ backup point guard.

Now all of that looks unlikely after the signing of Jeremy Lin and the probable signing of Tyler Johnson (unless the Miami Heat match Brooklyn’s offer sheet). There’s still a chance Ferrell could make the NBA roster as a third point guard (Johnson is technically a combo guard so it’s possible) but the chances have greatly diminished since the beginning of free agency.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Hornets’ Free Agent Decisions That Will Affect Zeller’s Role Next Year

Welcome to offseason coverage of Hoosiers In The NBA! Today I am looking at Cody Zeller’s Charlotte Hornets, who have some very crucial free agent decisions that will dictate the franchise’s future.  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 and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:


The Charlotte Hornets are coming off their most successful season since the franchise was reborn back in 2004 (and were called the Charlotte Bobcats). While key players such as Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and IU’s own Cody Zeller are under contract for next season, the Hornets actually enter the offseason with more than half of last year’s team currently scheduled to  be free agents.

After such a successful year, it would only make sense to bring back as many players as possible but management knows it probably can’t bring everyone back. So for this edition of Hoosiers In The NBA, I’m going to look at the five biggest free agents and how the decision of either keeping or parting with them will affect Cody Zeller’s role on the Hornets next season.


Nicolas Batum

While he’s always been a good player, Nic Batum really flourished in his lone season with the Hornets. Posting career-high averages in points (14.9) and assists (5.8), his passing took some of the pressure off of Walker (letting him focus a little more on scoring) while his defense helped compensate for the loss of Kidd-Gilchrist for most of the season.

If He Returns: Batum’s overall play has earned him a chance to land a max contract this offseason, and all indications are that both he and the Hornets are very interested in making that happen. While the size of the contract won’t likely affect Zeller when he has to re-sign next offseason, it will affect how Charlotte will handle the rest of this offseason as Batum’s new contract will limit how much the team will spend with the rest of its free agents. Chances are that if Batum returns with a max contract, at least one or maybe two of the five players on this list won’t be returning unless they take a considerable pay cut.

If He Doesn’t Return: While the Hornets could just hold on to the remaining cap space after re-signing everyone else, the pressure to remain competitive may force management to spend it which could lead to the Hornets trying to go after some big-name free agents. While that doesn’t sound that bad, it should be mentioned that all of the big free agent names who would be interested in coming to Charlotte are big men like Dwight Howard, Al Horford, and Hassan Whiteside, all of which would greatly hamper Zeller’s role on the team and will likely lead to him signing elsewhere after this upcoming season.


Al Jefferson

The cornerstone of the franchise since he was signed in 2013, Jefferson earned a spot on the All-NBA third team for helping Charlotte make the 2014 playoffs. Since then, Jefferson’s numbers have decreased dramatically (from 21.8ppg and 10.8rpg in 2013-2014 to 12.0ppg and 6.4rpg this past season). Some of the decline may be in part to the many injuries he has suffered the last two seasons, but the more likely cause is that Jefferson will be entering into his 13th NBA season next year and his body is breaking down. No decision this offseason directly affects Zeller more than the decision to re-sign Jefferson.

If He Returns: Keeping Jefferson could mean one of two things for Zeller. It could mean that the Hornets want to move forward with Zeller as their center but they still don’t think he’s a big offensive threat yet and need a backup that can score when needed. Unfortunately it could also mean that the Hornets are not yet convinced Zeller is their future center and both will likely compete for the starting job with the loser likely to be gone by the 2017-2018 season.

If He Doesn’t Return: By combining this with re-signing Batum, Charlotte’s management would be showing complete confidence in Zeller’s abilities. Of course, it’s very possible that even if Jefferson doesn’t return that the Hornets may still sign a veteran big man, but Zeller will have a huge advantage over most players the team could possibly sign to the veteran minimum because Zeller would be much more familiar with Head Coach Steve Clifford’s system.


Courtney Lee

Brought in during the middle of the season to add shooting and fill-in for the injured Kidd-Gilchrist at small forward, Lee is probably the most expendable of Charlotte’s five key free agents. With a healthy MKG and the likely re-signing of Batum, Lee would likely play a sixth man role next year. For a guy who can start for a number of NBA teams, coming off the bench for the Hornets probably isn’t his preferred choice.

If He Returns: While Zeller still has a ways to go offensively, having a great three-point shooter such as Lee gives Zeller the much needed space to operate in the post. He also gives the Hornets another solid defender, which could help solidify Zeller’s role as starting center. The Hornets have talked about signing a rim protector in free agency, but if the team has more solid defenders that don’t let their man get past them to the rim, the need for a rim protector becomes less important.

If He Doesn’t Return: Losing Lee’s shooting and defense will be tough to replace with one player but could be easily replaced by two. Kidd-Gilchrist, if he stays healthy, should take over defensively for Lee while getting a shooter should be rather easy. There are always good three-point shooters available in free agnecy, including former Hoosier Eric Gordon. Also the Hornets could use their first round draft pick to select a shooter, with wings such as Malik Beasley (FSU), Patrick McCraw (UNLV) and Isaiah Whitehead (Seton Hall) all likely options when Charlotte picks at 22.


Jeremy Lin

Although it seemed his 15 minutes of fame had vanished after “Linsanity” left the New York Knicks after the 2011-2012 season, Lin has seemingly found a home in Charlotte as Walker’s backup and the Hornets’ sixth man. While his numbers don’t look that impressive (11.7ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.0apg), Lin always seemed to have big games when the Hornets needed him the most. He also formed a pretty formidable pick-and-roll tandem with Zeller.

If He Returns: While Lin’s situation has some similarities to Lee’s situation, the biggest difference is that Lin has already proven that he can be successful and is willing to come off the bench for the Hornets. Lin and Zeller form a great pick-and-roll team so Lin’s return could help Zeller try to increase his scoring for the fourth consecutive season. Lin’s shooting also helps provide the spacing Zeller needs to work in the post. He’s not as good of a defender as Lee but the return of MKG should offset that.

If He Doesn’t Return: As much as Lin could help Zeller score more, he isn’t mandatory for Zeller’s points to increase. Zeller also has good pick-and-roll chemistry with Walker and if he improves it along with his chemistry with Batum than Zeller should have plenty of opportunities to score more this upcoming season.


Marvin Williams

Once Zeller’s main competition for playing time, Williams has now turned into the player Zeller needs most to succeed with the Hornets. Thanks to the Hornets switching to a more up-tempo and spaced-out offense, Williams has turned into an excellent stretch power forward without sacrificing his rebounding. He also provides a perfect mentor for Frank Kaminsky.

If He Returns: It can’t be stated enough how much Zeller benefitted from Williams playing power forward alongside Zeller. Williams shot 40.2% from deep while also grabbing a team-high 6.4 rebounds per game. This compliments Zeller perfectly as it gives Zeller the space he needs to score in the post on offense and also helps cover one of Zeller’s weak spots on defense (rebounding). He also provides a veteran leadership that would be gone if the Hornets part with Jefferson.

If He Doesn’t Return: While Zeller could still succeed with the Hornets next year without Williams, he would need Kaminsky to take his place and provide the same shooting and rebounding. While I do believe that Zeller and Kaminsky are primed to be Charlotte’s frontcourt of the future, I think Kaminsky is still a year away from being a full-time starter. If this scenario plays out, Zeller will need “Frank the Tank” to adapt quickly or both could be playing for different teams in the future.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Final Report Cards For 2015-2016 Season

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:


With no more former Indiana Hoosiers left in the NBA playoffs, it’s time to transition to offseason coverage. Tomorrow I will kick things off by taking a look at Victor Oladipo’s Orlando Magic and their coaching vacancy.

For now let’s put a bow on this past season by grading the four former Hoosiers on how they performed during the 2015-2016 season. I’ll take a look at what each player accomplished and also what parts of their game they fell short on this season. The final grades are not measuring the overall quality of the player but are instead based on how the player did in relation to expectations. Without further ado, here are the end of the season report cards:

 


Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Season 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 He Accomplished:

Coming off a season where he posted a career-low 13.4 points per game, it seemed that Eric Gordon was transitioning from being a lead player to role player. While team injuries may have forced it, Gordon proved this season that he can still be the team’s lead scorer if necessary. Despite playing 16 fewer games, he had the same number of 20+ points games (13) as he did last season. He also had the highest free throw percentage and the fewest turnovers of his career.

What Needs Improvement:

After shooting over 40% from three-point range for the first time in his career last season, Gordon failed to shot above 40% this year, making last season seem more like an aberration. While 38.4% is still very good, it isn’t the elite-level shooting that could have garnered him some good money in free agency despite his injury history. Speaking of which,  Gordon suffered a double whammy by missing nearly half the season due to injury, marking the fourth time in his eight-year NBA career he failed to play 60 games.

Conclusion:

It’s hard to properly judge Gordon or any member of the New Orleans Pelicans after all the bad injury luck (combined 531 games missed to injury). Gordon played well this past year and showed he still has something left in the tank, but his bad luck with injuries hit again and forced questions about his durability to resurface after a relatively healthy 2014-2015 season. In the end, I think they end up canceling each other out.

Season Grade: C

 


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Season 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 He Accomplished:

Having exceeded expectations offensively, it was the defensive side of the ball that Victor Oladipo needed to improve upon going into his third season. Under the direction of now former Head Coach Scott Skiles, Oladipo finally started showing why scouts thought he could become one of the premier defenders in the NBA. He also showed his versatility when he successfully filled the role of sixth man  for the Orland Magic during the early parts of the season.

What Needs Improvement:

Unfortunately Oladipo’s focus on improving his defense slightly diminished his offense output (he averaged 17.9 points per game in 2014-2015). The good news is that he did find a good balance toward the end of the season, especially during his 45-point performance against Cleveland. Yet the fact that his shooting numbers stayed the same (he shot 43.6% overall and 33.9% from deep last season) is a little concerning and will be the main focus for next season.

Conclusion:

Despite a dip in statistics, this was actually a very successful year for Oladipo. It cannot be overstated how much he has improved as an NBA defender and he should only get better. However, the biggest question going into this season is still unanswered, as we still don’t know whether Oladipo is an All-Star or just a really good role player. We’ll have to wait until next season to answer that question but the future still looks bright.

Season Grade: B+

 


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Season 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 He Accomplished:

Despite still being very raw, Noah Vonleh was able to earn a decent amount of playing time and start 56 games for a Portland Trail Blazers team that finished with the fifth-best record in the Western Conference. He also got quite a bit more comfortable taking NBA three-pointers, attempting 46 after only trying 13 during his rookie season.

What Needs Improvement:

Did I mention he is still very raw? Despite playing almost five more minutes per game, his season averages barely improved. His performance remained mostly stagnant throughout the whole season despite being given many opportunities to improve.

Conclusion:

While Vonleh probably fell way below expectations, it’s important to note that the kid still isn’t even 21 years old. After getting shipped from Charlotte to Portland, you could argue that Vonleh had to go through another rookie season. However, it’s not a good sign that instead of adjusting as the season moved along he just maintained his level of play. Right or not, the expectations for next year will be high and the leniency will be low.

Season Grade: D+

 


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Season 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 He Accomplished:

Cody Zeller’s standing with the Charlotte Hornets is so much better now than it was at the end of last season. Zeller needed to find a role to avoid being the odd man out and he definitely did. Thanks to a stylistic shift to a more up-tempo offense, Zeller’s speed, athleticism, and basketball I.Q. lend himself to being the perfect center for the Hornets. He also finally made over 50% of his shots for the first time in his NBA career.

What Needs Improvement:

Zeller saw a huge jump in the number of fouls he committed this season. While he’s still a very good defender, he’s not a rim protector and has accumulated the majority of his fouls because of this. There was also a decrease in the number of assists and while the number of rebounds did improve it could still be a little better.

Conclusion:

Unlike Oladipo, Zeller discovered his identity during his third NBA season and now can build towards perfecting his role. While the statistics may say he’s only contributing a little to the offense, the fact is that his screens and pick-and-roll play make this offense run perfectly. He still has a few things that he needs to work on but he definitely exceeded expectations by turning from a backup center fighting for a roster spot to a key part of the Hornets for years to come.

Season Grade: A-