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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Who Can Help Their Team During The NBA’s March Madness?

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Believe it or not, the NBA has its own form of “March Madness”. Although not as unpredictable and dramatic as the NCAA Tournament, March in the NBA is still a time of the year where many teams’ seasons are decided. It’s a time where teams either start punching their tickets to the playoffs or begin tanking for better lottery chances. While one bad game can knock a great college team out of the tournament, one bad week could knock a competitive NBA team out of the playoff race.

So this week I’m going to go over how each former Hoosiers will need to play over the next few weeks to ensure their team stays in the playoff race. Everyone’s roles and situations are different so some may have to do a lot more than others.

 


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Dallas (L 121-108): 6 points (3-10 FG), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

Vs Chicago (W 102-89): 17 points (6-12 FG)(5-6 FT), 7 rebounds, assist, steal, block, 3 turnovers, personal foul, 36 minutes.

Vs Phoenix (L 102-84): DNP – injury

@ Golden State (L 119-113): 19 points (8-16 FG)(3-3 FT), 9 rebounds, 8 assists, steal, 4 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Lakers (L 107-98): 26 points (10-17 FG)(4-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, block, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 36 minutes.

@ Sacramento (W 107-100): 18 points (6-14 FG)(5-8 FT), 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, block, 5 turnovers, personal foul, 39 minutes.

@ Portland (L 121-84): 18 points (8-14 FG), rebound, assist, 2 steals, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

 

Despite having gone 2-5 so far in the month of March, the Orlando Magic are still in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but time is definitely running out. No former Hoosier is more responsible for his team’s success than Victor Oladipo. That’s been magnified this last week with the absence of Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic. Oladipo is already asked to do a lot (shutdown defender, secondary ball-handler, secondary scoring threat) but even more responsibilities have been placed on him while the Magic’s playoff hopes are hanging on by a thread.

And those playoff hopes really are dimming fast. Despite being only five games out of the final playoff spot, the three teams ahead of the Magic have either split their last 10 games or have a winning record while the Magic are 3-7 in their last 10. That means that not only are the Magic not getting closer to a playoff spot, but other teams are starting to distance themselves from the Magic. It will truly be “March Madness” if the Magic are able to overcome all of this and make the playoffs and will require Oladipo playing on a level he’s yet to play during his NBA career.

 


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ Indiana (W 111-102): 5 points (2-5 FG), 2 rebounds, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 18 minutes.

@ Boston (L 116-93): 6 points (3-10 FG)(0-2 FT), 5 rebounds, steal, 3 personal fouls, 20 minutes.

@ Toronto (L 117-115): 3 points (1-1 FG)(1-1 FT), 4 rebounds, assist, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 11 minutes.

@ Detroit (L 123-103): 2 points (1-2 FG), 3 rebounds, assist, 13 minutes.

Vs Washington (W 116-109): 2 points (0-2 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 11 minutes.

@ Golden State (L 128-112): 3 points (1-6 FG)(0-2 FT), 5 rebounds, block, 4 personal fouls, 17 minutes.

Vs Orlando (W 121-84): 4 points (2-7 FG), 5 rebounds, block, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

@ Oklahoma City (L 128-94): 4 points (2-6 FG), 5 rebounds, assist, block, personal foul, 17 minutes.

 

A 9-2 February has neutralized the impact of a 3-5 start to March, but only three games separate the Portland Trail Blazers’ current spot (the sixth seed in the west) from being on the outside looking in. One easy way for the Trail Blazers to hold onto a playoff spot would be if Noah Vonleh finally had his breakout performance, but after months of waiting they shouldn’t hold their breath.

In fact, it really feels like Vonleh’s progress has stagnated ever since the Trail Blazers committed to making the playoffs. I give credit to them for continuing to start Vonleh instead of burying him on the bench like he was in Charlotte, but if I’m being honest I wouldn’t blame the Trail Blazers if they did. Vonleh has shot an ugly 28.6% in March and has only had one game with more than five rebounds since returning from injury (he was averaging 5.6 rebounds for the entire month of January. He was injured at the start of February). If he can at least get back to how he was playing in January it would go a long way.

 


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Vs Phoenix (W 126-92): 9 points (4-6 FG)(1-1 FT), 7 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, 4 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

@ Philadelphia (W 119-99): 15 points (3-6 FG)(9-10 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

Vs Indiana (W 108-101): 4 points (2-7 FG), 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 27 minutes.

Vs Minnesota (W 108-103): 6 points (2-4 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, block, 3 turnovers, 6 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

Vs New Orleans (W 122-113): 13 points (3-4 FG)(7-9 FT), 8 rebounds, block, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

Vs Detroit (W 118-103): 10 points (3-4 FG)(4-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, personal foul, 24 minutes.

Vs Houston (W 125-109): 7 points (3-4 FG)(1-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 15 minutes.

Vs Dallas (L 107-96): 1 point (0-3 FG)(1-2 FT), 9 rebounds, steal, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 27 minutes.

 

The month of March has been very kind to the Charlotte Hornets. A fringe playoff team when the month began, the Hornets have gone 7-1 and are now closer to the third seed (two games back) than they are to the eighth seed (three and a half games ahead). Cody Zeller has been a big part of this surge as he and Al Jefferson have finally found a rhythm where both are playing effectively despite splitting minutes at center.

Essentially Jefferson has become the offensive center and Zeller has become the defensive center.  While Zeller’s scoring and rebounding are a little down, his assists and blocks have greatly increased. As long as he continues to play like he has over the past few weeks, the Hornets won’t just make the playoffs but might also win their first playoff series since the franchise was revived.

 


Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Houston (L 100-95): 14 points (5-11 FG), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 5 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 32 minutes.

Vs San Antonio (L 94-86): 23 points (9-19 FG)(2-2 FT), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, personal foul, 34 minutes.

Vs Utah (L 106-94): 7 points (3-4 FG), 2 assists, 2 blocks, 11 minutes.

Vs Sacramento (W 115-112): DNP – injury

@ Charlotte (L 122-113): DNP – injury

@ Memphis (L 121-114): DNP – injury

@ Milwaukee (L 103-92): DNP – injury

 

I said last time that the one thing Eric Gordon and the New Orleans Pelicans could not afford was for Gordon to get injured again. Well he re-injured the same finger that kept him out six weeks and now he’s out six more weeks, which is right after the Pelicans season ends. Even if they had Gordon, the Pelicans would still not make the playoffs, as the 10 game gap this team needs to climb with 16 games remaining is incredibly too steep and would require three teams to utterly collapse.

 


Season averages:

Victor Oladipo: 15.1ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.9apg, 1.48spg, 0.57bpg, 2.2tpg, 2.3fpg, 42.3% FG, 33.8% 3FG, 82.4% FT, 32.2mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 3.7ppg, 4.1rpg, 0.4apg, 0.38spg, 0.30bpg, 0.6tpg, 2.1fpg, 40.1% FG, 22.0% 3FG, 73.8% FT, 16.0mpg.

Cody Zeller: 9.0ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.0apg, 0.78spg, 0.74bpg, 1.1tpg, 3.0fpg, 51.0% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 74.8% FT, 24.8mpg.

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.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Goals For The Last Third Of The Season

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Believe it or not, only one of the NBA’s 30 teams (Golden State Warriors) officially know what they will be doing when regular season ends. The other 29 have yet to either punch their ticket to the playoffs or punch their ticket to the draft lottery. Granted, the fates of some teams are forgone conclusions that have yet to become official (such as San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Cleveland in the playoffs and Philadelphia, Phoenix, and the Los Angeles Lakers in the lottery), but the vast majority could realistically go either way. That group includes the four teams that have former Hoosiers on their rosters.

Even though all four could possibly make the playoffs, none of them are championship contenders and thus will look to make changes this offseason. This week I’m going to go over what each Hoosier needs to accomplish between now and the end of the season to assure they will remain a contributor for their current team going into next season.

 

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Washington (L 109-89): DNP – injury

Vs Oklahoma City (W 123-119): DNP – injury

Vs Minnesota (L 112-110): 31 points (9-17 FG)(9-10 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 34 minutes.

Of all four former Hoosiers, this last third of the season directly affects Eric Gordon more than anyone else because he will be a free agent at the end of this season. Despite the fact that he will only be 28 years old, the 2016-2017 season will be his ninth in the NBA and during his career he has missed roughly one-third of those games due to injury (Gordon has missed 202 of 616 possible games as of this weekend). With Gordon’s injury history and the fact that the New Orleans Pelicans will have just completed one of the most injury-plagued seasons a NBA team has had in history, Gordon will have a lot of work to prove he deserves another contract with the Pelicans.

The first thing Gordon can do is stay healthy for the rest of the season. I know that sounds obvious but considering that both players who replaced him at shooting guard ended up suffering major injuries, staying healthy would be a nice change of pace for the team. The other thing Gordon must do is raise his three-point shooting above 40% before the end of the season. Gordon seemingly had made the transition to a three-point specialist last season when he hit a career-high 44.8% from deep. While he has been successful from deep this season (37.8%), it is still a far cry from last year’s success. It raises the question on whether or not last year was a fluke considering it’s the only time in his career he has shot over 40%. If Gordon can at least get his shooting percentage near 40% (>39.5%), it will make him a more valuable free agent (there are very few three-point shooters who can consistently hit above 40% with only 20 currently doing it this season) that would require a multi-year contract from either the Pelicans or any other team that might find interest.

 

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Philadelphia (W 124-115): 22 points (6-12 FG)(9-9 FT), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers, 41 minutes.

Vs Golden State (L 130-114): 14 points (5-16 FG)(2-4 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

@ New York (L 108-95): 16 points (6-14 FG)(2-4 FT), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 35 minutes.

Vs Philadelphia (W 130-116): 28 points (9-17 FG)(8-9 FT), rebound, 3 assists, 4 steals, 3 personal fouls, 44 minutes.

As I pointed out last week, part of the reason the Orlando Magic specifically made those trade deadline moves was to create extra cap space for this upcoming free agent class where the Magic hope to buy a superstar. That means Victor Oladipo only has a month and a half to either prove he can be the superstar the Magic desperately want, or prove to the Magic that he’s essential for the Magic to be championship contenders.

The idea of Oladipo becoming a superstar player was unrealistic to begin with and has only been backed up with Oladipo’s good but not great body of work. That doesn’t mean he can’t still develop into the second-best or the third-best player on a championship team but he needs to prove that’s possible. The first step towards doing that is showing that he’s the best player on this current team, one that management already thinks is devoid of stars. He can also prove his value to the team by just being one of the main reasons the Magic sneak into the playoffs this season.

The reason why it’s so important that Oladipo needs to prove he’s an important piece to the Magic’s championship blueprint is because the Magic will likely have to make additional moves after acquiring their star player which will likely involve trading away one of their younger players. Oladipo’s goal should be to make management not even consider getting rid of him when that move eventually happens.

 

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Vs Brooklyn (W 112-104): 4 points (2-5 FG), 3 rebounds, personal foul, 13 minutes.

Vs Houston (L 119-105): 2 points (1-3 FG), 2 rebounds, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 13 minutes.

@ Chicago (W 103-95): 5 points (2-4 FG)(0-1 FT), 3 rebounds, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 18 minutes.

One of the main reasons the Portland Trail Blazers traded for Noah Vonleh was that management thought the team would be going through a rebuilding phase and thus would have had the time to oversee Vonleh’s development. Yet in the end the Blazers merely reloaded as they now find themselves tied for sixth in the western conference with a month and a half to go.  The reason the team has rebounded so much is because young players like C.J. McCollum and Allen Crabbe have taken huge steps forward this season with McCollum proving to be 20+ scorer and Crabbe proving to be a great sixth man. While Vonleh has also improved from last season, the level of improvement is nowhere near McCollum and Crabbe’s level.

To ask Vonleh to make a jump similar to those two players would be asking too much of a player that is still very raw. However, aside from attempting more three-pointers recently (he’s attempted at least one three-pointer in 13 of his last 15 games, making 33.3% of those attempts), not much has changed since he was inserted into the starting lineup in December. With Portland ready to contend in the playoffs right now, Vonleh needs to show some sign of improvement for Portland to keep him this offseason  instead of trading him away for someone who can help the team in the present.  Even if it’s only 8 points and 7 rebounds a game, he needs to show some form of progress so management knows that it isn’t wasting its time.

 

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

@ Cleveland (L 114-103): 7 points (3-6 FG)(1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

@ Indiana (W 96-95): 14 points (5-5 FG)(4-7 FT), 5 rebounds, block, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 27 minutes.

@ Atlanta (L 87-76): 6 points (1-4 FG)(4-6 FT), 7 rebounds, steal, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

As I have mentioned several times in past articles, the Charlotte Hornets frontcourt is so crowded that the team will need to make some kind of move to free up playing time. The easiest and most likely move would be not re-signing Al Jefferson in the offseason. That would directly benefit Cody Zeller the most as they are currently splitting time at center. While Zeller is the one who gets to start, both guys are still playing around the same amount of minutes. In the five games since he returned from injury, Jefferson has played 22.4 minutes per game while Zeller has played 25.2 minutes per game during that stretch.

However, unlike his fellow former Hoosiers, Zeller’s goal is to not let things change. Sure it would be great for Zeller to play so well that he’s averaging 30 minutes a game, but realistically all he needs to do is prevent Jefferson from playing more minutes than him. That means staying out of foul trouble, playing his usual great defense, and continuing to improve his field goal percentage. Zeller has made a lot of strides towards becoming the Hornets’ franchise center this season and now he just needs to make sure there are no setbacks.

 


Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 15.3ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.7apg, 1.00spg, 0.29bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 41.3% FG, 37.8% 3FG, 88.6% FT, 33.5mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 14.9ppg, 4.8rpg, 4.0apg, 1.46spg, 0.56bpg, 2.1tpg, 2.3fpg, 41.4% FG, 34.1% 3FG, 82.5% FT, 32.1mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 3.8ppg, 4.1rpg, 0.4apg, 0.41spg, 0.29bpg, 0.6tpg, 2.0fpg, 42.4% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 80.0% FT, 16.0mpg.

Cody Zeller: 9.1ppg, 6.1rpg, 0.9apg, 0.80spg, 0.66bpg, 1.0tpg, 2.9fpg, 50.8% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 73.3% FT, 24.9mpg.

Hoosiers In The NBA: How The Trade Deadline Affected Former Hoosiers

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Tons of rumors pop up around the NBA trade deadline with most of them just being hypotheticals that teams make public for the sole purpose of gauging fan reaction. Even though most fans know this, there’s always the slight possibility that there may be truth in those rumors so fans continue to react anyway.

A couple of former Hoosiers found their names connected to multiple trade rumors last week, and while none of them switched teams they did get new teammates because their team ended up trading someone else. This week I’m going to go over how those trades will affect these former Hoosiers for the rest of the season as well as whether or not it was for the best that they didn’t get traded.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Atlanta (W 117-110): 9 points (3-12 FG)(2-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 8 assists, steal, block, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

Vs San Antonio (L 98-96): 14 points (6-14 FG), 3 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, 4 turnovers, personal foul, 40 minutes.

Vs Dallas (W 110-104): 17 points (6-18 FG)(2-2 FT), 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 42 minutes.

Vs Indiana (L 105-102): 17 points (6-17 FG)(5-8 FT), 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 41 minutes.

Trade Deadline Moves: Acquired Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova from the Detroit Pistons while giving up Tobias Harris; Acquired Jared Cunningham from the Cleveland Cavaliers and a 2nd round pick from the Portland Trail Blazers while giving up Channing Frye to the Cavaliers

The Orlando Magic desperately want a franchise player and were hoping to grab one at the trade deadline. To pull that off would mean the Magic would have to part with some of their young talent. Well they did end up trading Tobias Harris but in return Orlando received Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova.

While neither are the franchise player the Magic are looking for, they do play an important role in getting one. Jennings is an expiring contract who will create 8.5 million dollars in cap room for next summer’s free agent market, where multiple franchise players expect to test free agency. Ilyasova makes for a nice veteran role player and is basically a younger Channing Frye. His acquisition made more sense when the Magic later dealt Frye to Cleveland.

Jennings works really well with Victor Oladipo. Because Jennings is a much better shooter than Elfrid Payton, Oladipo isn’t forced to continuously shoot jump shots to create space in the offense. He can also play more of a facilitator role, as shown by his 11 assists in his first two games with Jennings.

Should He Have Been Traded?

Of all the former Hoosiers, it really felt like Oladipo was the most likely to get dealt while simultaneously being the one I least wanted to be traded. While it would have been cool to see him play for a contender (for example, the Los Angeles Clippers after a Blake Griffin trade), Oladipo just fits so well in Orlando both in how the team is structured and in the community. Of course, if a team is willing to part with a franchise player but wants Oladipo in return, I wouldn’t blame the Magic for making that deal. However, that should be the only situation the Magic consider dealing their closest thing to a superstar.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Vs Chicago (W 108-91): 5 points (2-3 FG)(0-2 FT), 8 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 6 personal fouls, 20 minutes.

@ Indiana (W 117-95): 11 points (4-7 FG)(3-3 FT), 11 rebounds, 3 assists, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

@ Milwaukee (W 98-95): 23 points (9-12 FG)(5-5 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 31 minutes.

@ Brooklyn (W 104-96): 10 points (4-8 FG)(2-2 FT), rebound, 3 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 22 minutes.

Trade Deadline Moves: Acquired Courtney Lee in a 3-team trade while giving up Brian Roberts to the Miami Heat and P.J. Hairston to the Memphis Grizzlies

There was no doubt that the Charlotte Hornets were going to make a move at the trade deadline and there were talks of that move being Dwight Howard. In any kind of Howard trade, Cody Zeller would more than likely be a part of it since it would be a waste to have both when you can only play one at a time.

Luckily for Zeller, talks with the Houston Rockets went nowhere and so the Hornets went a different direction and traded for Courtney Lee. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist injured again, it opens up a spot in the starting lineup and Lee offers good defense and good shooting. That means more spacing on the floor so big men like Zeller and Al Jefferson can have more room to work with in the post.

Should He Have Been Traded?

The Hornets seemed to have found an identity with Zeller at center, as Jefferson has been coming off the bench ever since his return from injury and may stay in that role because he’d have an easier time scoring against backups. For that reason, I’m glad Zeller wasn’t traded.

On the other hand, there is still a logjam in the front court and you still have the feeling that moving one of those big men would have been a better way to balance the roster instead of trading guards P.J. Hairston and Brian Roberts. I still feel that someone is leaving in the offseason but whether or not its Zeller or someone else remains to be seen.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ Memphis (W 112-106): DNP – injury

Vs Houston (W 116-103): DNP – injury/coach’s decision

Vs Golden State (W 137-105): 9 points (3-6 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 personal fouls, 22 minutes.

Vs Utah (W 115-111): 5 points (2-7 FG)(1-1), 8 rebounds, 3 turnovers, personal foul, 16 minutes.

Trade Deadline Moves: Acquired Anderson Varejao and a conditional 1st round pick in a 3-team trade while giving up a 2nd round pick to the Orlando Magic; acquired Brian Roberts from the Miami Heat in exchange for cash

In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the Portland Trail Blazers have exceeded all expectations as they currently sit at seventh place in the western conference a week after the all-star break. There were a couple of rumors that the Blazers might trade some of their young developing talent (such as Noah Vonleh) but Portland smartly decided to keep its young players. The Blazers remain focused on developing their talent and if they make the playoffs that’s great but if they don’t it won’t be a big deal.

That didn’t mean the Blazers were going to avoid taking part in a couple of midseason trades. Portland helped Cleveland and Orlando complete the Frye trade and all it cost was a second round pick. In return, the Blazers received a conditional first round pick from the Cavaliers. To be more specific, Portland now has Cleveland’s 2018 first round pick unless the Cavaliers are drafting in the top 10 for some reason. Portland also ended up with Anderson Varejao in that trade, but he was immediately waived so he won’t affect Vonleh’s playing time. The Blazers also added Brian Roberts (who the Heat traded away right after getting him) as a veteran backup for Damian Lillard and only gave up some cash.

Should He Have Been Traded?

As I previously wrote, I think it was a smart decision to keep Vonleh, as well as their other younger players. For Vonleh in particular, I don’t think there’s a better situation for him. How many other NBA teams are going to be as patient and helpful as the Blazers have been? Portland is committed to grooming Vonleh into key player for this franchise and I don’t see the team changing its mind anytime soon.

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Minnesota (W 116-102): DNP – injury

Vs Utah (W 100-96): DNP – injury

@ Oklahoma City (L 121-95): DNP – injury

Vs Philadelphia (W 121-114): DNP – injury

@ Detroit (W 111-106): DNP – injury

Trade Deadline Moves: Acquired Jarnell Stokes and cash from the Miami Heat while giving up a future 2nd round pick

With the New Orleans Pelicans quite a few games out of playoff contention, I figured they would either start selling off veterans to acquire younger players and draft picks or that they would try to swing for the fences by grabbing a big-name player in hopes of jumpstarting the team to make a late-season playoff push.

Turns out neither happened as they basically stuck with their team. Stokes, the one player they acquired, was released immediately so they could sign free agent guard Bryce Dejean-Jones because his 10-day contract had ended. Dejean-Jones played fairly well for the Pelicans and is meant to provide depth at the shooting guard position when Eric Gordon comes back.

Should He Have Been Traded?

I really respect Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps for sticking with this group of guys even after the slow start to the season. The truth is that the Pelicans should have traded Gordon only if they were giving up on trying to make the playoffs and were looking ahead to next season. Not only are the playoffs still a possibility (The Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz, and Sacramento Kings are in front of the Pelicans for the eighth spot but none of those three are sure things), but the Pelicans really need Gordon now after losing Tyreke Evans for the season. If Gordon plays well when he returns, he may also earn himself a new contract to stay in New Orleans.


Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 14.9ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.7apg, 0.95spg, 0.29bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 41.0% FG, 37.7% 3FG, 88.5% FT, 33.4mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 14.4ppg, 4.9rpg, 4.1apg, 1.38spg, 0.58bpg, 2.2tpg, 2.3fpg, 41.2% FG, 33.7% 3FG, 82.8% FT, 31.7mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 3.7ppg, 4.2rpg, 0.5apg, 0.44spg, 0.29bpg, 0.6tpg, 2.0fpg, 42.6% FG, 21.4% 3FG, 81.3% FT, 16.1mpg.

Cody Zeller: 9.1ppg, 6.1rpg, 0.9apg, 0.83spg, 0.68bpg, 1.0tpg, 3.0fpg, 50.3% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 74.5% FT, 24.9mpg.