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)

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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

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:


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+