Hoosiers In The NBA: Oladipo And Zeller Earn Contract Extensions

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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.

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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: 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-

 

Hoosiers In The NBA: Potential Playoff Matchups For Zeller And Vonleh

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:


Even though the NBA Playoffs start this weekend, many of the matchups have yet to be determined. With that in mind, this week I will go over every potential playoff matchup for Cody Zeller’s Charlotte Hornets and Noah Vonleh’s Portland Trail Blazers. Later in the week, when the matchups are set, I’ll give my playoff previews and performance predictions, but for now let’s look at which teams they might face in the first round:

 


Cody Zeller’s (And The Charlotte Hornets’) Potential Playoff Matchups:

Even after losing to the Washington Wizards on Sunday, and likely locking the Hornets into the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference, Charlotte still isn’t any closer to finding out its first round opponent. Even if the Hornets no longer have a chance at the third seed, three other teams still do with two games left.

The current third seed and Charlotte’s first round matchup if the playoffs started today would be the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks won the season series 3-1, but Zeller still played fairly well against them averaging 9 points on 48% shooting, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block.

If the Hawks stumble, both the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics still have a shot to grab the third seed. Both could also face Charlotte if the Hornets find a way to move into the fifth seed.

While the Hornets have had success against the Heat, splitting the season series, Zeller has historically struggled against the team from South Beach. This season was a little better with averages of 7 points on 44% shooting and 6.3 rebounds but this is still Zeller’s least preferred matchup.

Charlotte still has one game left against the Celtics and will try to avoid getting swept this season. Contrasting the Heat series, Zeller has found great personal success against Brad Stevens’ squad despite having his team lose. Zeller is averaging 9.5 points on 56.3% shooting, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1 steal against Boston this year. There would also be the added bonus of “Zeller vs Zeller” as his older brother Tyler players for the Celtics.

Noah Vonleh’s (And The Portland Trail Blazers’) Potential Playoff Matchups:

Things are a little more clear for Vonleh as his Trail Blazers will either end up with the fifth seed or the sixth seed.

Currently Portland is the fifth seed which would mean a first round matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers won the season series 3-1 but were one of the few teams Vonleh had some success scoring against, as he averaged 4.3 points on 53.8% shooting.

However, if the Trail Blazers fall to the sixth seed (which would require Memphis beating the Golden State Warriors but humor me please) Portland would face the Oklahoma City Thunder. Vonleh’s squad split the season series with the Thunder, but Vonleh really struggled offensively against OKC as he only averaged 1.5 points on 18.2% shooting.

Oladipo Gets Concussed Again:

In non-playoff related news, Victor Oladipo probably saw his season end this past Friday when he suffered a concussion against the Miami Heat. It was his second concussion of the season, with the first coming in November against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The NBA has a strict concussion protocol that players must pass before playing again, and it becomes even harder to pass when a player sustains multiple concussions in the same season. With only two games left in the Orlando Magic’s season, the odds are the franchise will just shut him down until next year.

While the idea of a player having two concussions in the same season sounds troubling, Oladipo can take some comfort in the fact that teammate Nikola Vucevic has suffered multiple concussions during his tenure with the Magic and is perfectly fine.

 


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Season averages:

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)

Recent Game Logs:

Vs Detroit (L 108-104): 16 points (5-13 FG)(5-7 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, block, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

Vs Miami (W 112-109): 13 points (6-12 FG), 4 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

@ Miami (L 118-96): DNP – injury

 


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Season averages:

3.6ppg, 3.9rpg, 0.4apg, 0.34spg, 0.30bpg, 0.6tpg, 1.9fpg, 42.6% FG, 25.6% 3FG, 73.5% FT, 14.9mpg. (77 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Sacramento (W 115-107): 2 points (1-1 FG), 2 rebounds, steal, block, 2 turnovers, 8 minutes.

Vs Oklahoma City (W 120-115): 0 points (0-0 FG), 2 rebounds, 4 minutes.

Vs Minnesota (L 106-105): 2 points (1-1 FG), 3 rebounds, 9 minutes.

 


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Season averages:

8.8ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.0apg, 0.78spg, 0.88bpg, 0.9tpg, 2.8fpg, 52.9% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 75.7% FT, 24.5mpg. (72 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Toronto (L 96-90): 9 points (4-6 FG)(1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 personal fouls, 19 minutes.

@ New York (W 111-97): 6 points (3-5 FG), 5 rebounds, assist, steal, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 19 minutes.

Vs Brooklyn (W 113-99): 5 points (1-2 FG)(3-4 FT), 4 rebounds, assist, steal, 5 blocks, turnover, personal foul, 23 minutes.

@ Washington (L 113-98): 6 points (2-3 FG)(2-2 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 3 personal fouls, 17 minutes.

 


Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Season averages:

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)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Philadelphia (L 107-93): DNP – injury

@ Boston (L 104-97): DNP – injury

Vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 110-102): DNP – injury

Vs Phoenix (L 121-100): DNP – injury

Hoosiers In The NBA: Oladipo and Zeller Finishing Their Third Season Strong

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:


Just like Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, I too am trying to improve as I near the end of my third season covering Hoosiers In The NBA. So this week I’m trying out a new format where I separate the recap/opinion write-ups from the player stats and game logs. I’ve also rearranged a few other things to try and organize everything better.

Whether you are a returning reader or someone who just happened to stumble onto this article, please give your honest feedback so I can continue to improve this column. Now let’s get to the topics, which include Oladipo and Zeller playing well near the end of the season and Noah Vonleh’s relegation to the bench.

 


Oladipo And Zeller Still Improving Near End Of Their Third NBA Season:

The mentality of a true “professional athlete” (regardless of the sport) is to never stop learning and always continue to improve. While neither Victor Oladipo nor Cody Zeller may become “great” NBA players, both have proven to be “professional” NBA players.

Both still have room to grow but at the same time both have made great strides this season and are playing some of their best ball as the season reaches its final games.

Zeller is about to finally finish an NBA season shooting above 50%. While that is usually expected of a big man, it has been one of his biggest weaknesses as he only made 44.3% of his field goal attempts during his first two seasons. Not only is Zeller shooting a respectable 52.5% this season, but he’s been a red-hot 64.1% these past two weeks. He also just set a new career-high for steals when he grabbed five against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.

Meanwhile Oladipo is filling up every stat in the boxscore on a regular basis. Over the past two weeks, Oladipo is averaging 17.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 3.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks. More importantly, he’s become a more confident shooter. He still needs to hit a little more often (44.6% overall during the last two weeks and 30.4% from deep), but as evidenced from his sick crossover and three-point make against the Indiana Pacers this week, he believes in his shot and knowing his work ethic he’ll get them to fall reliably eventually.

Vonleh Is Back To The Bench:

The season has come full circle for Noah Vonleh as he will end this season just like he started it: coming off the bench.

You can’t really blame the Portland Trail Blazers as they gave Vonleh plenty of chances to prove himself (56 starts over course of the season) and with no huge improvement and the playoffs just about to start, the decision to start Maurice Harkless over Vonleh was the right choice.

Luckily for Vonleh, Head Coach Terry Stotts is still finding ways to get him playing time (one of the reasons he was moved to the starting lineup was to guarantee Vonleh playing time) so Vonleh will still be able to contribute to the Trail Blazers in the playoffs. It’s just that his playing time will greatly differ on a game-by-game basis.

Multiple Former Hoosiers Will Be Playing In The NBA Playoffs:

With the Hornets clinched and the Trail Blazers a win away from clinching, we will have two former Hoosiers playing in the NBA playoffs this year.  While the last time that happened was only two years ago in the 2014 playoffs, the two players were teammates as the former Charlotte Bobcats had Zeller in his first NBA season and D.J. White in his last.

However, the last time two former Hoosiers playing for different teams made the playoffs was back during the 2006 playoffs. A decade ago, an aging Alan Henderson was a reserve big man for the Cleveland Cavaliers on LeBron James’ first playoff team while Jared Jeffries started for the Washington Wizards during the middle of the Gilbert Arenas-Antawn Jamison era.

Jeffries averaged 36 minutes a game during his six playoff games while Henderson played a total of nine minutes in two playoff games. The difference in playoff minutes for Zeller and Vonleh will be huge but not this huge.

 


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Season averages:

16.1ppg, 4.8rpg, 4.0apg, 1.64spg, 0.73bpg, 2.1tpg, 2.4fpg, 43.8% FG, 34.4% 3FG, 83.3% FT, 33.0mpg.

Recent Game Logs:

@ Boston (L 107-96): 25 points (10-17 FG)(4-4 FT), 8 rebounds, assist, 5 steals, block, 5 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

@ Detroit (L 118-102): 14 points (5-18 FG)(3-3 FT), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, block, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 41 minutes.

@ Miami (L 108-97): DNP – injury

Vs Chicago (W 111-89): DNP – injury

Vs Brooklyn (W 139-105): 7 points (3-7 FG), 3 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

@ Indiana (W 114-94): 18 points (7-15 FG)(2-2 FT), 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, block, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ Milwaukee (L 113-110): 18 points (7-17 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, 4 blocks, 5 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 38 minutes.

Vs Memphis (W 119-107): 22 points (9-18 FG)(4-5 FT), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, block, 4 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

 


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Season averages:

3.7ppg, 4.0rpg, 0.4apg, 0.34spg, 0.30bpg, 0.6tpg, 2.0fpg, 42.2% FG, 25.6% 3FG, 73.5% FT, 15.2mpg.

Recent Game Logs:

Vs Dallas (W 109-103): 0 points (0-0 FG), rebound, 3 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Clippers (L 96-94): 4 points (2-2 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 personal fouls, 10 minutes.

Vs Philadelphia (W 108-105): 2 points (1-1 FG), 5 rebounds, turnover, personal foul, 9 minutes.

Vs Sacramento (W 105-93): 5 points (2-4 FG)(1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

Vs Boston (W 116-109): 7 points (3-3 FG), 3 rebounds, steal, block, personal foul, 9 minutes.

Vs Miami (W 110-93): 1 point (0-1 FG)(1-2 FT), 5 rebounds, 11 minutes.

@ Golden State (L 136-111): 2 points (0-0 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 minutes.

 


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Season averages:

9.0ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.0apg, 0.79spg, 0.82bpg, 1.0tpg, 2.9fpg, 52.5% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 75.7% FT, 24.8mpg.

Recent Game Logs:

Vs San Antonio (W 91-88): 6 points (3-6 FG), 14 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, personal foul, 29 minutes.

@ Brooklyn (W 105-100): 8 points (4-5 FG), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, block, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

@ Detroit (L 112-105): 8 points (4-5 FG), 6 rebounds, block, 3 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

@ Milwaukee (W 115-91): 4 points (2-4 FG), 3 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, 3 personal fouls, 20 minutes.

@ Philadelphia (W 100-85): 18 points (7-8 FG)(4-4 FT), 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

Vs Philadelphia (W 100-91): 8 points (3-5 FG)(2-2 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, block, 27 minutes.

@ Cleveland (L 112-103): 8 points (2-6 FG)(4-4 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 5 steals, personal foul, 29 minutes.

 


Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Season averages:

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.

Recent Game Logs:

Vs Miami (L 113-99): DNP – injury

@ Indiana (L 92-84): DNP – injury

Vs Toronto (L 115-91): DNP – injury

Vs New York (W 99-91): DNP – injury

@ San Antonio (L 100-92): DNP – injury

Vs Denver (W 101-95): DNP – injury

@ Brooklyn (W 106-87): DNP – injury

Hoosiers In The NBA: Breaking Down Oladipo’s 45-Point Game Vs Cleveland

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 just your average week for the former Hoosiers playing in the NBA. Eric Gordon didn’t play because he’s injured, Noah Vonleh is playing a little better but not well enough to warrant minutes for a playoff-caliber team, Cody Zeller recorded a double-double then got injured but was good enough to start the next game, and Victor Oladipo set a new career-high for points against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Wait a second, what did Oladipo do?

Almost as if trying to inspire his alma mater on the night before they faced the Kentucky Wildcats in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Oladipo played against the NBA’s equivalent of the Wildcats (LeBron James’ Cavs) and although his Orlando Magic lost he did finish with a career-high 45 points against the Eastern Conference leaders.

Because this is such a monumental performance, I really wanted to go in-depth on how Oladipo caught fire this past Friday night. So this week’s edition of Hoosiers In The NBA will be all about that one game. I’ll still have the players’ game logs for all who are still interested as well as their season stats. Now let’s break down Oladipo’s best scoring performance of his basketball career:

 


March 18th, 2016: Cleveland 109, Orlando 103

Oladipo’s Boxscore: 45 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

Oladipo’s 45-point game is awesome enough if all you knew was that he scored 45 points in an NBA game. However once you start dissecting all the details, it becomes more and more impressive.

Take the opponent for instance. Scoring 45 points against an abysmal team like the Philadelphia 76ers, who have a record of 9-61, would still be cool but would feel inflated because of the level of completion. Yet in this instance Oladipo went off on the Cavaliers, who have an Eastern Conference best 49-20 record and are one of four teams who have already clinched a playoff spot. Also, it’s not like their best players took the night off as James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love all played and James and Irving played 35+ minutes each.

Now there are a couple of ways to score 45 points. There’s the James Harden-way where you get to the free throw line 20+ times and make 80% of them, then you combine that with a regular 20-point game. There’s the Stephen Curry-way where you make 10 three-pointers and add in some free throws and two-point baskets. Then there’s the “hero ball” way where you take an exuberant amount of field goal attempts (I’m talking about in the high 30s and maybe the 40s) and you make about half of those plus some three-pointers and a couple of free throws.

Yet Oladipo’s path to 45 points doesn’t categorize into any of those. To put it simply, he fits into a different category, one where a player just can’t miss and so they keep shooting. By the time the final buzzer went off, Oladipo had attempted 22 field goals and had made 16 of them (72.7%).

These weren’t all just layups either. Here is a breakdown of all 22 shots attempts:

  • 6 layup attempts, of which he made 5 (83.3%)
  • 9 two-point jump shot attempts, of which he made 5 (55.6%)
  • 7 three-point jump shot attempts, of which he made 6 (85.7%)

The three-pointers really stand out, especially for someone who’s a career 33.8% three-point shooter. The reason he was able to effectively hit from behind the arc was due to his confidence. Oladipo only attempted two deep balls in the first half (he made both), but after going 8 for 11 on field goal attempts before halftime he decided to let it fly and was rewarded by going 3 of 4 in the third quarter. It’s worth noting he made his first five three-pointers before his first miss from deep.

If you’re wondering why the math isn’t adding up, it’s because I haven’t gotten to the free throws. Sometimes being forced to be stationary can throw off a player’s rhythm because most of their baskets have come while they’ve been on the move. Well it didn’t affect Oladipo as he made 7 of his 8 foul shots.

By the end of the game, Oladipo may not have been able to help his Magic  beat the Cavaliers (they did lead a few times during the game thanks to his efforts), but he did join elusive company by becoming the second Magic player ever to score 45 points, grab five rebounds, and make at least five three-pointers in a loss. The other was Magic-great Tracy McGrady.

 


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Vs Denver (W 116-110): 23 points (9-16 FG)(5-6 FT), 4 rebounds, 6 assists, steal, 2 blocks, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

@ Charlotte (L 107-99): 25 points (10-18 FG)(3-4 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 3 blocks, turnover, personal foul, 42 minutes.

Vs Cleveland (L 109-103): See Breakdown Above

@ Toronto (L 105-100): 21 points (9-19 FG)(2-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 42 minutes.

 


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ San Antonio (L 118-110): 8 points (4-7 FG), 4 rebounds, turnover, personal foul, 11 minutes.

@ New Orleans (W 117-112): 6 points (2-2 FG)(1-1 FT), rebound, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 12 minutes.

@ Dallas (L 132-120 OT): 0 points (0-1 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 personal fouls, 14 minutes.

 


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Vs Orlando (W 107-99): 13 points (5-7 FG)(3-4 FT), 13 rebounds, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 29 minutes.

@ Miami (W 109-106): 6 points (3-6 FG), 3 rebounds, personal foul, 14 minutes.

Vs Denver (L 101-93): 10 points (3-6 FG)(4-6 FT), 2 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 personal fouls, 29 minutes.

 


Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Golden State (L 125-107): DNP – injury

@ Sacramento (W 123-108): DNP – injury

Vs Portland (L 117-112): DNP – injury

Vs Los Angeles Clippers (W 109-105): DNP – injury

 


Season averages:

Victor Oladipo: 15.9ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.9apg, 1.47spg, 0.67bpg, 2.1tpg, 2.3fpg, 43.7% FG, 34.8% 3FG, 82.6% FT, 32.7mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 3.7ppg, 4.0rpg, 0.4apg, 0.35spg, 0.28bpg, 0.6tpg, 2.1fpg, 40.7% FG, 23.8% 3FG, 74.4% FT, 15.8mpg.

Cody Zeller: 9.0ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.0apg, 0.74spg, 0.80bpg, 1.0tpg, 3.0fpg, 51.3% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 74.5% FT, 24.7mpg.

Eric Gordon: 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.