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: Williams and Vonleh Impress In Summer League

Welcome to offseason coverage of Hoosiers In The NBA! Today I will be recapping how former Hoosiers performed during Summer League play. 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:


Though often overlooked, the NBA Summer League is a very fascinating part of the NBA season. It’s a unique setting that helps introduce new names to NBA fans and offers teams a chance to develop its unproven players in an exhibition-game format.

The NBA Summer League caters to two different groups of players. For rookies and some inexperienced second/third-year players, the Summer League is a place to grow your skills and make the transition to playing meaningful minutes during the course of the NBA season. We’ll call this “Group A”, and this group is allowed to be themselves and make mistakes as long as they learn from them.

However for the other group (which we’ll call “Group B”) the margin for error is nowhere near as big. This group consists of players not currently on an NBA roster, either because they played in the NBA Development League (D-League) last year or they just went undrafted. For these players this is basically a tryout for the team they are playing for and if they don’t give the coaches a reason to invest time and training into them, they’ll get pushed aside in favor of those already signed immediately.

Indiana University saw four former players (one in Group A and three in Group B) participate in NBA Summer League this year so for this edition of Hoosiers In The NBA I’m going to take a look at each player’s overall performance and decide whether or not they succeeded in meeting their necessary goals.


Noah Vonleh, Portland Trail Blazers

Summer League Stats: 12.0ppg, 8.8rpg, 1.2apg, 0.75spg, 0.75bpg, 2.8tpg, 3.3fpg, 46.3% FG, 23.1% 3FG, 70.0% FT, 31.5mpg (4 games)

Even though he fits into Group A, Noah Vonleh had quite a bit of pressure heading into the NBA Summer League. After very minimal improvement over the course of last season, Vonleh had to show some substantial progress and dominate in Las Vegas.

While the final stats won’t blow anyone away, Vonleh actually did show some improvement and was able to dominate for short stretches of specific games. He scored double-digit points in all four games he played and recorded three double-doubles. His shooting percentages weren’t that special but it was great to see him be more assertive as he attempted 10.3 field goal attempts per game after attempting just 3.6 per game last season in the NBA. Lastly, he demonstrated his dominant rebounding ability by ranking seventh overall in rebounds per game. Overall, it was great Summer League for Vonleh and Portland Trail Blazer fans can feel optimistic about the big man’s future again.


Troy Williams, Phoenix Suns

Summer League Stats: 12.3ppg, 4.3rpg, 0.3apg, 1.67spg, 1.5tpg, 2.7fpg, 54.3% FG, 26.3% 3FG, 79.2% FT, 22.2mpg (6 games)

Being a part of Group B means that you have to keep the coach’s attention at all time or you’ll lose it to one of the players who already has a guaranteed a spot on the roster. The fact that Troy Williams was able to keep his coaches invested in him after an unspectacular start to Summer League play is nothing short of incredible.

Williams endured a tough first three games (4.3 points per game) but was able to shine during the Phoenix Suns’ tournament run, averaging 20.3 points per game over his last three games. He was able to shift roles as he went from a role player willing to do anything during the first half of Summer League play to a great slasher and scorer over the second half of Summer League play.

A roster spot on the Phoenix Suns didn’t seem very likely at the beginning of July, but now Williams has a really good shot to make the team and if he doesn’t there should be a few NBA teams that took notice and will give Williams a shot.


Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, Brooklyn Nets

Summer League Stats: 8.8ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.8apg, 0.75spg, 0.25bpg, 2.3tpg, 0.8fpg, 43.8% FG, 18.2% 3FG, 71.4% FT, 17.0mpg (4 games)

If Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell was in Group A, this would have been considered a passable Summer League performance, but the problem is that he belongs to Group B.

Don’t get me wrong, Ferrell was good during his time on the floor but he needed to be great. He did surprising well on two-point shots but was abysmal on three-point shots (what he’ll need to rely on if he plays in the NBA). Also his assist numbers were much too low, even when you take into account the number of minutes he played and how many of those minutes he was actually the main ball handler.

There is still a good chance he could end up on an NBA D-League team this season, but the idea of Ferrell being on an NBA roster next season seems to be miniscule.


Verdell Jones, NBA D-League Select Team

Summer League Stats: 5.2ppg, 0.8rpg, 1.0apg, 0.75spg, 1.5tpg, 1.0fpg, 53.8% FG, 50.0% 3FG, 85.7% FT, 11.2mpg (4 games)

With all the excitement surrounding Williams and Ferrell in their quest to make an NBA roster, another former Hoosier was almost completely overshadowed.

As a member of the NBA D-League Select Team, Verdell Jones had a great start to Summer League after a 12-point, three-rebound, three-assist performance in just 19 minutes. Unfortunately that would be the highest point of his experience as he proceeded to only play a total of 27 minutes over his other three appearances and totaled a combined nine points. While it was nice to see him get this opportunity, don’t expect to hear anything regarding him playing for an NBA team.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Orlando’s Coaching Search Will Determine Oladipo’s Future

Welcome to offseason coverage of Hoosiers In The NBA! Today I am looking at Victor Oladipo’s Orlando Magic as they search for their fourth coach in three years. 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:


Even though it feels like he was just drafted yesterday, Victor Oladipo will be entering into his fourth season with the Orlando Magic this coming November. He’ll also be playing for his fourth different head coach.

After Scott Skiles stepped down due to  disagreements with management, the Magic are now in a dire position as they need to find a coach that can help the team build on the progress of last season. Before we get to potential replacements, let’s take a look at why the Magic are in this position.


Skiles’ entire tenure, from his campaigning for the job until he quit last week, has actually been very shaky in hindsight. Those mid-season lineup changes thought to be smart moves to help the Magic get out of a slump (such as moving Oladipo to the bench) now seem more like warning signs of a coach who didn’t quite trust his team. In fact, the midseason trades that sent away the young and talented Tobias Harris in exchange for veterans Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova were likely Skiles’ idea (he coached both in Milwaukee).

That trade may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back as it seems what ended up making Skiles leave was the fact that he and GM Rob Hennigan had very different ideas of how the team should be built. The Magic have been very patient trying to develop all of their young talent and thus want to reap the rewards. Meanwhile Skiles has always been a coach who not only preferred veterans but has a shorter than usual leash when it comes to rookies. Mario Hezonja was selected fifth in last year’s NBA Draft in hopes of giving the Magic a talented wing who would be a much needed three-point shooter, yet he ended up only playing 17.9 minutes per game this season (ranking ninth on the team).


It’s clear that the Magic want to stick with their young guys and thus the next coach needs to be someone who is good at developing players. The biggest name being attached to the Magic’s opening is former Indiana Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel and honestly there might not be a better candidate.

While some players (like Oladipo) did make improvements on the defensive end, the team as a whole was still mediocre despite defense being Skiles’ expertise. While it’s possible that Vogel might not be able to fix the problem either, there’s no better defensive coach available than the man who made the Pacers a top 10 defensive team each of the last five seasons.

The main problem with hiring Vogel is that every team with an opening wants him. Unfortunately this puts the Magic at a huge disadvantage not because it isn’t an appealing job but because Orlando wants to take its time trying to find the next coach. Vogel, as well as potential candidate David Blatt, probably don’t want to wait for Orlando to make its decision unless they are guaranteed the job.

Instead it might be wiser to go after coaches that aren’t getting a lot of traction right now. The perfect example of that would be Mark Jackson. While many are split on just how good he is as a coach, there’s no denying that Jackson played a big role in developing the Golden State Warriors before Steve Kerr took them over the top. Orlando would provide a similar situation with its group of promising players. I doubt the Magic will reach Golden State’s success, but Jackson is more than capable of leading this team to the playoffs on yearly basis.


Yet the right answer for the Magic might be the least exciting option. Adrian Griffin is considered one of the most promising assistant coaches in the NBA and having coached in Orlando this past season, he may be the most logical choice of all. Despite all the turmoil, the Magic did improve last year under Skiles and his coaching staff, and it would make a lot of sense for Orlando to try and keep the same coaching staff even if the boss has left.

Similar to how a young quarterbacks tends to struggle when they have several offensive coordinators, younger NBA players can be hampered by having too many different head coaches. They have to simultaneously learn a new coach’s style while trying to adapt to playing on the professional level. Oladipo has had a pretty good career so far, but it’s very possible that he can’t reach his all-star potential because he has to keep learning new coaching styles. Griffin would bring some stability for a player who may need just that to take his game to the next level.

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: Portland-Golden State Preview

I hope you all enjoy the game-by-game coverage of these playoffs and for more follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBAPlayoffs.

Western Conference 1st Round: (5) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (1) Golden State Warriors

Regular Season Series: Warriors won 3-1

Playoff Series: 0-0 (1st game is Sunday at 3:30pm)

Probable Starting Lineups:

Portland Trail Blazers:

C – Mason Plumlee: 9.1ppg (51.6% FG/64.2% FT), 7.7rpg, 2.8apg

F – Al-Farouq Aminu: 10.2ppg (41.6%/36.1% 3FG/73.7% FT), 6.1rpg, 1.7apg

F – Maurice Harkless: 6.4ppg (47.4% FG/27.9% 3FG/62.2% FT), 3.6rpg, 0.9apg

SG – C.J. McCollum: 20.8ppg (44.8% FG/41.7% 3FG/82.7% FT), 3.2rpg, 4.3apg, 1.2spg

PG – Damian Lillard: 25.1ppg (41.9% FG/37.5% 3FG/89.2% FT), 4.0rpg, 6.8apg

Key Bench Players – Noah Vonleh (3.6ppg, 3.9rpg), Ed Davis (6.5ppg, 7.4rpg, 61.1% FG), Gerald Henderson (8.7ppg), Allen Crabbe (10.3ppg, 39.4% 3FG)

Golden State Warriors:

C – Andrew Bogut: 5.4ppg (62.7% FG/48.0% FT), 7.0rpg, 2.3apg, 1.6bpg

PF – Draymond Green: 14.0ppg (49.0% FG/38.8% 3FG/69.6% FT), 9.5rpg, 7.4apg, 1.5spg, 1.4bpg

SF – Harrison Barnes: 11.7ppg (46.6% FG/38.3% 3FG/76.1% FT), 4.9rpg, 1.8apg

SG – Klay Thompson: 22.1ppg (47.0% FG/42.5% 3FG/87.3% FT), 3.8rpg, 2.1apg

PG – Shaun Livingston: 6.3ppg (53.6% FG/86.0% FT), 2.2rpg, 3.0apg

MVP – Stephen Curry: 30.1ppg (50.4% FG/45.4% 3FG/90.8% FT), 5.4rpg, 6.7apg, 2.1spg

Key Bench Players – Andre Iguodala (7.0ppg, 4.0rpg, 3.4apg), Marreese Speights (7.1ppg, 38.7% 3FG), Ian Clark (3.6ppg), Leandro Barbosa (6.4ppg)

What To Expect:

The Portland Trail Blazers were one of the few playoff teams that beat the Golden State Warriors this year, so with Stephen Curry’s status up in the air there is a chance the Trail Blazers make this a very interesting series.

So does that mean that Noah Vonleh will have zero chance of playing any meaningful minutes in this series? Surprisingly I think there is a realistic chance he does play.

As with the Los Angeles Clippers series, there is a potential scenario that may provide Vonleh with an opportunity to play. Chris Kaman was the reserve center in the last series but I don’t think he can keep up with small-ball centers such as Draymond Green and Marreese Speights. Vonleh is much more athletic and is quick enough to guard both.

But before you pencil in Vonleh for eight minutes per game, know that there’s another solution that is just as likely.  If Coach Terry Stotts still thinks Vonleh isn’t ready for such a big responsibility he may instead just shorten his rotation and stagger his post players’ minutes so that either Mason Plumlee or Ed Davis is always on the court.

Just like last series it may come down to a first impression. I could see Stotts giving Vonleh a chance during game one and if he likes what he sees he’ll continue to have Vonleh come off the bench. If he doesn’t, Vonleh will be glued to the bench for the rest of the series.

Stat Predictions: 0.8ppg, 1.3rpg, 33% FG, 3.8mpg

Hoosiers In The NBA: Playoff Previews For Zeller’s Hornets And Vonleh’s Trail Blazers

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:


As promised earlier in the week, here are the previews for both Cody Zeller’s Charlotte Hornets and Noah Vonleh’s Portland Trail Blazers. I’ll give my thoughts on what you can expect from both of them during their first round matchups and also give a roster breakdown of both their team and the opposing team. And as always I’ll go out on a limb and actually predict their stats for that series just to see how close or how far off I end up being afterward. I hope you enjoy and look forward to more playoff coverage both on this blog and on Twitter for as long as a former Indiana Hoosier is still playing in the playoffs. Now let’s break down these series:

 


Eastern Conference 1st Round: (6) Charlotte Hornets vs. (3) Miami Heat

Regular Season Series: Tied 2-2

Playoff Series: 0-0 (1st game is Sunday at 5:30pm EST)

Probable Starting Lineups:

Charlotte Hornets:

C – Cody Zeller: 8.7ppg (52.9% FG/10.0% 3FG/75.4% FT), 6.2rpg, 1.0apg

PF – Marvin Williams: 11.7ppg (45.2% FG/40.2% 3FG/83.3% FT), 6.4rpg, 1.4apg

SF – Nicolas Batum: 14.9ppg (42.6% FG/34.8% 3FG/84.9% FT), 6.1rpg, 5.8apg

SG – Courtney Lee: 9.6ppg (45.4% FG/37.8% 3FG/83.9% FT), 2.6rpg, 1.7apg

PG – Kemba Walker: 20.9ppg (42.7% FG/37.1% 3FG/84.7% FT), 4.4rpg, 5.2apg

Key Bench Players – Al Jefferson (12.0ppg, 6.4rpg), Jeremy Lin (11.7ppg), Jeremy Lamb (8.8ppg), Frank Kaminsky (7.5ppg)

Miami Heat:

C – Hassan Whiteside: 14.2ppg (60.6% FG/65.0% FT), 11.8rpg, 0.4apg, 3.7bpg

F – Joe Johnson: 12.2ppg (43.9% FG/38.3% 3FG/83.1% FT), 3.6rpg, 3.9apg

F – Luol Deng: 12.3ppg (45.5% FG/34.4% 3FG/75.5% FT), 6.0rpg, 1.9apg

SG – Dwyane Wade: 19.0ppg (45.6% FG/15.9% 3FG/79.3% FT), 4.1rpg, 4.6apg

PG – Goran Dragic: 14.1ppg (47.7% FG/31.2% 3FG/72.7% FT), 3.8rpg, 5.8apg

Key Bench Players – Justice Winslow (6.4ppg, 5.2rpg), Josh Richardson (6.6ppg, 46.1% 3FG), Gerald Green (8.9ppg), Amar’e Stoudemire (5.8ppg)

What To Expect:

Cody Zeller is going to have his hands full as his primary mission this series is to prevent Hassan Whiteside from being an offensive factor.

While defending Whiteside will be a challenge, it could have been worse as Zeller would have guarded Chris Bosh if he was available.  Bosh presented a big problem for Zeller as the perennial All-Star is able to draw bigger defenders out of the paint because of his lethal mid-range game and above average three-point shooting.

Whiteside won’t move very far from the post except to set screens, which means Zeller can stay close to the basket and help guard the rim against one of the better slashing teams in the NBA. His help defense will be a necessity on Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic drives.

The key for Zeller during this series will be to stay out of foul trouble. The former Hoosier has done a better job lately of avoiding fouls but still ended the season with a career-high 2.8 fouls per game. The Hornets could still beat the Heat by simply outshooting them, but when the shots don’t fall Charlotte cannot afford to have Zeller on the bench with foul trouble.

Because so much will be asked of Zeller defensively, I expect Hornets’ Head Coach Steve Clifford to consistently switch Zeller in and out with Al Jefferson for offensive and defensive situations. That doesn’t mean Zeller won’t score during this series but expect no more than four or five shots per game.

Zeller won’t produce flashy numbers during this series but his performance will be one of the few main things that could decide who wins this series.

Stat Predictions: 6.5ppg, 6.1rpg, 0.83spg, 1.50 bpg, 47% FG, 28.3mpg


Western Conference 1st Round: (5) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (4) Los Angeles Clippers

Regular Season Series: Clippers won 3-1

Playoff Series: 0-0 (1st game is Sunday at 10:30pm)

Probable Starting Lineups:

Portland Trail Blazers:

C – Mason Plumlee: 9.1ppg (51.6% FG/64.2% FT), 7.7rpg, 2.8apg

F – Al-Farouq Aminu: 10.2ppg (41.6%/36.1% 3FG/73.7% FT), 6.1rpg, 1.7apg

F – Maurice Harkless: 6.4ppg (47.4% FG/27.9% 3FG/62.2% FT), 3.6rpg, 0.9apg

SG – C.J. McCollum: 20.8ppg (44.8% FG/41.7% 3FG/82.7% FT), 3.2rpg, 4.3apg, 1.2spg

PG – Damian Lillard: 25.1ppg (41.9% FG/37.5% 3FG/89.2% FT), 4.0rpg, 6.8apg

Key Bench Players – Noah Vonleh (3.6ppg, 3.9rpg), Ed Davis (6.5ppg, 7.4rpg, 61.1% FG), Gerald Henderson (8.7ppg), Allen Crabbe (10.3ppg, 39.4% 3FG)

Los Angeles Clippers:

C – DeAndre Jordan: 12.7ppg (70.3% FG/43.0% FT), 13.8rpg, 1.2apg, 2.3bpg

PF – Blake Griffin: 21.4ppg (49.9% FG/72.7% FT), 8.4rpg, 4.9apg

SF – Luc Richard Mbah a Moute: 3.1ppg (45.4% FG/52.6% FT), 2.3rpg, 0.4apg

SG – J.J. Redick: 16.3ppg (48.0% FG/47.5% 3FG/88.8% FT), 1.9rpg, 1.4apg

PG – Chris Paul: 19.5ppg (46.2% FG/37.1% 3FG/89.6% FT), 4.2rpg, 10.0apg, 2.1spg

Key Bench Players – Jamal Crawford (14.2ppg), Jeff Green (11.7ppg, 4.2rpg), Wesley Johnson (6.9ppg), Austin Rivers (8.9ppg), Cole Aldrich (5.5ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.1bpg)

What To Expect:

Noah Vonleh has ended up playing even less than I expected at the end of the season, and some things I’ve read are suggesting he may only see the court during these playoffs if any of the games end up being blowouts.

However, if there was ever a matchup that would require Vonleh to play more than expected it would be against the Clippers. Against the frontcourt duo of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, I expect multiple games where the Trail Blazers’ big men get in foul trouble and Head Coach Terry Stotts will need to rely on Vonleh for spot minutes.

If Vonleh does find himself in that situation, he’ll have a prime opportunity to show the coaching staff that he’s improving. If he can hit a three-pointer early, it would force either Griffin or Jordan to leave the paint to guard him, leaving driving lanes for Damian Lillard to slash and kick out.

Of course, it’s very possible this situation never happens in this series. But there’s a better chance of Vonleh playing meaningful playoff minutes than most people might think.

Stat Predictions: 1.5ppg, 2.4rpg, 0.33 bpg, 37% FG, 5.7mpg

 

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