Hoosiers In The NBA: Every Hoosier Is A Starter

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:

So far 2016 has been a great year for Hoosier Nation. Not only have the Indiana Hoosiers played well, so have the Hoosiers who have left Bloomington to play in the NBA. For the first time in my two years writing about all former Hoosiers playing in the NBA, all of them are starting at the exact same time. How many other colleges can say that all of their current basketball player alumni are NBA starters? So for this week’s edition, I’m going to go over why all of them are starters and explain their roles as a starter. I’ll also go over how likely they are to retain that starting spot going forward. So let’s take a look at the Hoosier’s NBA starting lineup:

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Orlando (L 104-89): 3 points (1-6 FG), block, 2 turnovers, 24 minutes.

Vs Los Angeles Clippers (L 95-89): 10 points (3-10 FG) (2-2 FT), 2 rebounds, steal, block, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 35 minutes.

@ Dallas (W 105-98): 16 points (6-14 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 37 minutes.

Vs Dallas (L 100-91): 14 points (5-9 FG), rebound, 3 assists, turnover, personal foul, 23 minutes.

Vs Indiana (L 91-86): 8 points (3-11 FG)(1-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Clippers (L 114-111): 7 points (3-10 FG), rebound, 4 assists, 2 steals, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 38 minutes.

Almost from the beginning of his NBA career, Eric Gordon has known no other role than being his team’s starting shooting guard. Now in his eighth season, Gordon has started 388 of the 408 games he has played, but the reason he’s starting now is slightly different from the reason he started the majority of those games. Once the go-to scorer, Gordon has taken on the role of three-point specialist for the New Orleans Pelicans the last couple of years as he’s adjusted to all the injuries he has sustained. Gordon’s ability to hit from deep provides the spacing this offense needs to operate, which makes him a key part of the Pelicans’ starting lineup. While he has struggled with his shot sometimes and during other times has offered little else in terms of stats, Gordon has cemented his spot in the starting lineup as one of the veteran leaders and a key part of dangerous offense when everyone on the Pelicans is healthy.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Vs New Orleans (W 104-89): 4 points (2-7 FG), 6 assists, steal, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 26 minutes.

Vs Brooklyn (W 100-93): 12 points (3-11 FG)(4-4 FT), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 5 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 29 minutes.

@ Washington (L 103-91): 20 points (8-18 FG)(2-2 FT), rebound, 5 assists, 4 steals, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 31 minutes.

@ Cleveland (L 104-79): 6 points (3-11 FG)(0-1 FT), 2 assists, 14 minutes.

@ Detroit (L 115-89): 18 points (7-11 FG)(3-3 FT), 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 35 minutes.

Vs Indiana (L 95-86): 20 points (7-13 FG)(2-2 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, block, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 41 minutes.

@ Brooklyn (W 83-77): 20 points (7-11 FG), 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, block, 4 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

Vs Washington (L 105-99): 17 points (5-12 FG)(5-6 FT), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, steal, block, 6 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

Victor Oladipo’s wide skill-set has allowed both former Orlando Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn and current head coach Scott Skiles to really experiment in regards to what kind of roles Oladipo can play for the Magic. During his rookie season, Oladipo played the role of starting point guard and when the Magic drafted Elfrid Payton the Magic moved Oladipo back to the starting two-guard position. Earlier this season, Skiles moved Oladipo to the bench as his ability to score in bunches would help bolster an offensively-impaired second unit. Now Oladipo finds himself back at the position of starting point guard with Payton out with an injury. However this time Oladipo is being asked to be more of a ball-handler than a traditional point guard. While Oladipo has started to get hot offensively since returning to the starting lineup, hitting 26 of 47 field goal attempts (55.3%), you’d have to think that Payton gets his job back when he returns from injury. That and the fact that Oladipo’s turnover problems are starting to appear again since his move to point guard, jumping from 1.9 during his first 32 games to 3.8 during his last four games.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Vs Denver (W 110-103): 0 points (0-2 FG), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, turnover, personal foul, 16 minutes.

@ Utah (L 109-96): 6 points (1-1 FG)(4-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, personal foul, 19 minutes.

@ Denver (W 112-106): 5 points (2-6 FG)(1-2 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, block, 6 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

Vs Memphis (L 91-78): 2 points (1-3 FG), 6 rebounds, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 13 minutes.

Vs Los Angeles Clippers: (L 109-98): 7 points (3-5 FG) (1-1 FT), rebound, personal foul, 16 minutes.

Vs Golden State (L 128-108): 0 points (0-3 FG), 6 rebounds, personal foul, 17 minutes.

Vs Oklahoma City (W 115-110): 0 points (0-3 FG), 3 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, block, turnover, 5 personal fouls, 14 minutes.

Having played a total of only 257 minutes in 25 games last year, Noah Vonleh is definitely the surprise starter of this group. His reason for being the starter is also a little more unusual too. Vonleh filled in for the injured Meyers Leonard early in the season, and while Vonleh played fairly well it wasn’t an upgrade over Leonard’s play. Yet when Leonard returned, Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts kept Vonleh as the starting power forward. The reason for not switching back was because before the injury to Leonard, Vonleh was rapidly losing playing time as there just weren’t many situations for Stotts to sub in Vonleh. Having Vonleh start carves out guaranteed minutes for him as he continues to develop his very raw skills. If you look at playing time and who is on the court in crunch time, Stotts actually did make Lenoard the starting power forward again but just without the distinction of actually starting the game. With the Trail Blazers in rebuilding mode this season I expect this situation to play out for at least the rest of this season.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 108-98): 16 points (8-10 FG)(0-2 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 33 minutes.

Vs Los Angeles Clippers (L 122-117): 12 points (4-6 FG)(4-4 FT), 8 rebounds, assist, 3 steals, block, turnover, personal foul, 28 minutes.

@ Toronto (L 104-94): 15 points (5-7 FG)(5-6 FT), 9 rebounds, assist, 3 blocks, 3 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

Vs Oklahoma City (L 109-90): 7 points (2-5 FG)(3-4 FT), 4 rebounds, block, 4 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

@ Golden State (L 111-101): 8 points (2-7 FG)(4-4 FT), 10 rebounds, 2 steals, block, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

@ Phoenix (L 111-102): 13 points (6-9 FG)(1-2 FT), 11 rebounds, 3 steals, block, turnover, 5 personal fouls, 34 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Clippers (L 97-83): 6 points (2-7 FG)(2-4 FT), 13 rebounds, block, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 33 minutes.

@ Denver (L 95-92): 15 points (6-11 FG)(3-4 FT), 6 rebounds, 3 turnovers, personal foul, 31 minutes.

Cody Zeller is used to filling in at starting positions for the Charlotte Hornets, but after occupying the starting center spot for over a month with Al Jefferson injured multiple times with a suspension in-between, it may now be Zeller’s starting spot. Zeller’s speed and athleticism has let the Hornets be able to transition to a faster-paced offense, something the team had hopes for during the off-season when they signed Nic Batum.  Zeller also helps the Hornets the halfcourt as he is able to set screens faster and while he won’t be backing many defenders down he can use that athleticism to maneuver around those bigger defenders. Defensively, Zeller has also proved that he can hold is own in the paint defending guys who have 25 pounds on him, one of the main reasons the Hornets were trying to move him to power forward. Overall, Zeller has really flourished the last month and the fact that he’s currently averaging 8.5 rebounds over his last 10 games (he’s always seemed to under-perform on the boards until recently) may be the final nail in the coffin for Jefferson’s spot.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 15.1ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.6apg, 0.92spg, 0.28bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 40.5% FG, 36.9% 3FG, 88.0% FT, 33.5mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 13.1ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.9apg, 1.28spg, 0.67bpg, 2.1tpg, 2.2fpg, 40.1% FG, 32.6% 3FG, 80.9% FT, 29.6mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 3.1ppg, 3.8rpg, 0.5apg, 0.48spg, 0.25bpg, 0.6tpg, 1.9fpg, 39.2% FG, 16.7% 3FG, 84.6% FT, 15.4mpg.

Cody Zeller: 8.9ppg, 5.9rpg, 0.9apg, 0.94spg, 0.69bpg, 0.9tpg, 2.9fpg, 51.1% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 71.8% FT, 24.6mpg.

Hoosiers In The NBA: What To Improve Upon In 2016

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:

Happy Holidays from Hoosiers In The NBA! New Year’s is just around the corner so that means it it time for New Year’s resolutions! This week I will give each former Hoosier something to work on as the calendar switches to 2016. These resolutions won’t be the obvious ones (such as Victor Oladipo needing to improve his shooting percentage) but instead will be small parts of their games that I think they can improve upon to play even better. Let’s check which part of each former Hoosier’s game needs some tweaking:

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Vs Portland (W 115-89): 11 points (3-8 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 6 assists, steal, turnover, 34 minutes.

@ Miami (L 94-88 OT): 16 points (5-15 FG)(5-5 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 43 minutes.

Vs Houston (W 110-108): 26 points (10-12 FG), 2 rebounds, 5 assists, steal, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 40 minutes.

New Year’s Resolution: Create More Assists

While Eric Gordon isn’t a point guard, Gordon needs to find another part of the game to contribute in or else he faces the risk of being benched if he has an off shooting night. Throughout his career that extra part of his game has been his assists. While he has never averaged a lot of assists during his career, a career-average of 3.3 per game is still pretty nice. Heading into this week Gordon was averaging only 2.6 assists per game after averaging at least 3.0apg during six of his seven seasons in the NBA (he averaged 2.8apg during his rookie year). He’s starting to improve in that department after averaging 4.3 assists in three games this week but this needs to be more of a normal occurrence than a pleasant surprise.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ New York (W 107-99): 12 points (4-7 FG)(4-5 FT), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 24 minutes.

Vs Houston (W 104-101): 0 points (0-9 FG), 7 rebounds, 6 assists, personal foul, 31 minutes.

Vs Miami (L 108-101): 8 points (3-8 FG)(1-2 FT), 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 18 minutes.

New Year’s Resolution: Get To The Foul Line More Often

I’ve written plenty on Victor Oladipo’s shooting percentage, but something lost in that narrative is the fact that Oladipo isn’t getting to the free throw line nearly as much as he had done in the past. During his first and second seasons, Oladipo averaged 4.0 and 4.4 free throw attempts per game respectively. This year that number is down to just 2.7 free throw attempts per game. Oladipo already has nine games this season where he didn’t attempt a single free throw, something he only did seven times all of last year and only 11 times during his rookie season. The trend has really picked up recently with six of those games coming in his last 10. Oladipo needs to get back to driving to the basket and picking up fouls as his outside shooting doesn’t look like it’s going to drastically improve anytime soon.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ Atlanta (L 106-97): 5 points (2-3 FG)(1-1 FT), 3 rebounds, steal, turnover, personal foul, 13 minutes.

@ New Orleans (L 115-89): 6 points (2-3 FG)(2-2 FT), 6 rebounds, steal, personal foul, 21 minutes.

Vs Cleveland (W 105-76): 2 points (1-3 FG), 6 rebounds, assist, 4 steals, 3 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

@ Sacramento (W 98-94): 2 points (1-6 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 14 minutes.

New Year’s Resolution: Attempt More Three-Pointers

While I am liking Noah Vonleh’s development in other aspects of the game, at the end of the day rebounding and three-point shooting will be the determining factors in whether or not he lives up to his potential. While the rebounding has come along nicely (4.5 rebounds in 16 minutes of play over the past three weeks), the long-range shooting has almost completely disappeared. Vonleh has attempted only three three-pointers over the last four weeks (16 games) and just attempted his 14th three-pointer of the season during his 33rd game of the year when he had previously attempted 13 triples in just 25 games last season. I understand that the Portland Trail Blazers are using him differently than the Charlotte Hornets did but the lack of long jump shots is a little worrisome and needs more attention in 2016.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

@ Houston (L 102-95): 10 points (5-9 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 steals, turnover, 6 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

Vs Boston (L 102-89): 7 points (3-7 FG)(1-2 FT), 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 34 minutes.

Vs Memphis (W 98-92): 8 points (3-6 FG)(2-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

New Year’s Resolution: Stay Out Of Foul Trouble

There was a lot of defensive pressure placed on Cody Zeller when he was tasked with filling in at center for the Charlotte Hornets and so the defensively outstanding Zeller ended up seeing an uptick in his personal fouls. That itself isn’t that big of a deal but what is a big deal is that the number has jumped significantly. Over his 12 starts at center, Zeller is committing 3.4 personal fouls per game (Zeller only averages 2.4 personal fouls per game for his career) and has fouled out twice after not fouling out once during his first 166 NBA games. While Al Jefferson will likely take back the starting center role, that increase in fouls is still something that Zeller needs to work on if he finds himself in a similar situation in the future.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 16.1ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.8apg, 0.97spg, 0.23bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 41.4% FG, 37.3% 3FG, 88.2% FT, 33.8mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 12.6ppg, 5.1rpg, 3.9apg, 1.18spg, 0.75bpg, 1.9tpg, 2.3fpg, 38.8% FG, 26.5% 3FG, 78.9% FT, 29.1mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 3.1ppg, 3.6rpg, 0.4apg, 0.42spg, 0.21bpg, 0.6tpg, 1.8fpg, 41.2% FG, 21.4% 3FG, 84.2% FT, 14.9mpg.

Cody Zeller: 8.1ppg, 5.1rpg, 1.0apg, 0.93spg, 0.59bpg, 0.9tpg, 2.9fpg, 48.9% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 71.1% FT, 23.0mpg.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Oladipo Sweeps Round One Against Former Hoosiers

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:

Back when this column was just Zeller And Oladipo Watch, I used to go very in-depth when Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo faced off as it was very interesting to see two players who were once the closest of teammates to be facing off against each other as opponents. Well those two faced off for the first time this season and with a Magic win, Oladipo improved to 5-4 against Zeller. However it wasn’t Oladipo’s only game this week against a fellow Hoosier as two days later the Magic hosted the Portland Trail Blazers. The Magic won and now Oladipo is 3-0 this season against former Hoosiers. So this week I’m going to analyze these two games as well as the Magic’s early season win over Eric Gordon and the New Orleans Pelicans to see how Oladipo has swept his fellow Hoosier so far this season:

Orlando Magic @ New Orleans Pelicans (11/3/2015)
(Oladipo vs. Gordon)
Magic win 103-94
Oladipo: 12 points (4-8 FG), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, block, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls
Gordon: 21 points (8-19 FG), 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 personal fouls

This game was so long ago I almost didn’t want to include a recap about it but actually it is worth analyzing when you think about how much has changed for both Oladipo and Gordon over the past month and a half. Oladipo started and played 36 minutes in this game. The last time Oladipo played 36+ minutes was against the Indiana Pacers (38 minutes), which was only a week after the New Orleans game as well as the last game Oladipo played before he suffered a concussion that caused him to miss a few games. Meanwhile Gordon’s 19 shot attempts were only slightly higher than usual for him during the first 10 games (he averaged 16.2 field goal attempts) when the Pelicans were missing Tyreke Evans and were really limiting Jrue Holiday’s minutes. Since that hot ten-game start, Gordon has only attempted 11 shots per game.

The big takeaways from the game specifically is that Gordon’s four turnovers remain the most he’s had in a game this season and it was the first time this year Oladipo shot 50% or better from the floor.

Charlotte Hornets @ Orlando Magic (12/16/2015)
(Oladipo vs. Zeller IX)
Magic win 113-98
Oladipo: 11 points (5-9 FG), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls
Zeller: 11 points (3-3 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 2 personal fouls

Heading into this season, despite Zeller having better teams than Oladipo during their first two seasons, these former teammates had split the first eight games against each other. One other odd thing about this friendly rivalry is that they don’t play on the court at the same time that often and the trend continued this season as Zeller started in place of Al Jefferson while Oladipo has transitioned completely into the sixth man role.

Both players shot very well during the game, with Oladipo having only his third game this season where he shot over 50% while Zeller didn’t miss a single shot (he was also a perfect 5-5 from the free throw line). Despite both playing relatively well, the Magic were able to win comfortably because they were able to turn 16 Hornets turnovers into 25 points.

Portland Trail Blazers @ Orlando Magic (12/18/2015)
(Oladipo vs. Vonleh)
Magic win 102-94
Oladipo: 15 points (7-14 FG), 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, block, 6 turnovers, 4 personal fouls
Vonleh: 4 points (2-4 FG), assist, personal foul

Unfortunately Vonleh only played 12 minutes so it never really felt like the two were playing against each other. As for Oladipo, this marked the game where Oladipo finally pushed his season shooting percentage north of 40% (only to shoot 2 of 11 in his next game) and marked the eighth time this season Oladipo hit 50% or better from the floor. Also, as you may have already noticed, three of those games came against former Hoosiers.

But what Oladipo really did that helped the Magic not only win this game but the Hornets game was his amazing defense. Check out this article to get an in-depth explanation of what exactly Oladipo is doing on defense. He may not be scoring or shooting as well as he did in his prior two NBA seasons but his defense is back to the level that made him a defensive monster at IU.


Of course it wouldn’t be a Hoosiers In The NBA article without each player’s game logs so here is a look at how each Hoosier performed this past week:

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Portland (L 105-101): 9 points (3-9 FG)(3-3 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 34 minutes.

@ Utah (W 104-94): 19 points (5-9 FG)(5-5 FT), assist, steal, 3 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

@ Phoenix (L 104-88): 15 points (2-11 FG)(9-11 FT), rebound, assist, 2 steals, block, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 29 minutes.

@ Denver (W 130-125): 20 points (6-11 FG)(4-5 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, block, turnover, personal foul, 32 minutes.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Brooklyn (W 105-82): 10 points (2-3 FG)(5-6 FT), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, block, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 20 minutes.

Vs Charlotte (W 113-98): 11 points (5-9 FG), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 25 minutes.

Vs Portland (W 102-94): 15 points (7-14 FG), 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, block, 6 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 35 minutes.

Vs Atlanta (L 103-100): 4 points (2-11 FG), 6 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 27 minutes.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Vs New Orleans (W 105-101): 2 points (1-5 FG), 5 rebounds, assist, steal, block, 3 personal fouls, 17 minutes.

@ Oklahoma City (L 106-90): 2 points (0-2 FG)(2-2 FT), 7 rebounds, 3 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

@ Orlando (L 102-94): 4 points (2-4 FG), assist, personal foul, 12 minutes.

@ Miami (L 116-109): 2 points (1-4 FG), 3 rebounds, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 11 minutes.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

@ Orlando (L 113-98): 11 points (3-3 FG)(5-5 FT), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 2 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

Vs Toronto (W 109-99 OT): 5 points (2-6 FG)(1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, turnover, 6 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

@ Washington (L 109-101): 11 points (5-9 FG)(1-2 FT), 7 rebounds, steal, block, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 16.0ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.6apg, 0.93spg, 0.26bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 40.4% FG, 35.5% 3FG, 87.4% FT, 33.2mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 13.4ppg, 5.2rpg, 3.9apg, 1.32spg, 0.84bpg, 2.0tpg, 2.4fpg, 39.6% FG, 27.2% 3FG, 79.7% FT, 29.7mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 3.0ppg, 3.4rpg, 0.4apg, 0.21spg, 0.24bpg, 0.7tpg, 1.9fpg, 41.4% FG, 23.1% 3FG, 81.3% FT, 14.6mpg.

Cody Zeller: 8.1ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.0apg, 0.79spg, 0.54bpg, 0.8tpg, 2.8fpg, 48.9% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 71.1% FT, 22.2mpg.

Hoosiers In The NBA: The First Quarter Season Recap

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:

There’s no official date that marks the beginning of the NBA midseason (though I guess Christmas Day is the closest thing we have) but with every team having played at least 20 games and having won and lost at least one of those games (yes for those who didn’t know the Golden State Warriors did finally lose a game), I think we can go ahead and say the NBA season is out of its early stages. So for this edition of Hoosiers In The NBA, I’m going to recap how each Hoosier has progressed so far this season. I’ll also go over how their teams have performed to this point in the season and what their goals will be going forward:

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Vs Boston (L 111-93): 0 points (0-2 FG), 2 rebounds, assist, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 16 minutes.

Vs Washington (W 107-105): 15 points (5-12 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, assist, steal, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ Chicago (L 98-94): 14 points (5-15 FG)(2-2 FT), 2 assists, steal, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 34 minutes.

Eric Gordon’s Stats: 16.0ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.7apg, 0.87spg, 0.22bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.1fpg, 40.5% FG, 35.4% 3FG, 87.3% FT, 33.6mpg.

  • Gordon’s Progress Report: Due to so many injuries to key players at the start of the season, a surprisingly-uninjured Eric Gordon was asked to take on more scoring responsibilities a year after taking a step down from such duties. Gordon showed he’s still able to score in bunches as he averaged 18.8 points over the Pelicans’ first 15 games. However, since then Gordon has averaged only 10.8 points per game over the team’s last eight games. The main reason for this decline is that key offensive pieces like Tyreke Evans are back in the lineup and thus Gordon’s scoring role has shrunken. With many players returning, Gordon has already accepted the possibility that he may have to come off the bench if that is what’s best for his team.

New Orleans Pelicans Stats: 6-17 (5th in Southwest Division, 14th in Western Conference), 101.7 points scored per game (14th), 108.4 points allowed per game (30th).

  • Pelicans Progress Report: Credit Gordon for trying to keep things together while players have been out, but the Pelicans may have built themselves too big a of a hole to climb out of in time to make the playoffs. It hasn’t been a scoring problem as the Pelicans have actually improved slightly from their 16th ranked scoring offense (99.4) of a year ago. The problem has been a horrendous defense that ranks last this season after ranking a respectable 12th (98.6) last season. The return of Evans bolsters a middle-of-the-pack offense but unless they can get some stops this will continue to be a long season for New Orleans.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Denver (W 85-74): 11 points (5-14 FG)(1-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 4 blocks, 4 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 33 minutes.

@ Phoenix (L 107-104): 14 points (6-14 FG), 4 rebounds, 5 assists, steal, 2 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 29 minutes.

Vs Cleveland (L 111-76): 4 points (2-8 FG), 4 rebounds, assist, 4 turnovers, personal foul, 19 minutes.

Victor Oladipo’s Stats: 14.0ppg, 5.8rpg, 3.8apg, 1.14spg, 0.90bpg, 1.9tpg, 2.3fpg, 39.1% FG, 25.9% 3FG, 79.4% FT, 30.2mpg.

  • Oladipo’s Progress Report: It’s been an up-and-down season for Oladipo as he is having both his best defensive season and his worst shooting season. However his offense has gotten better since moving to his current role of sixth man. As a starter, Oladipo was only averaging 12.8 points on 37.0% shooting but since his shift out of the starting lineup he’s averaging 15.6 points on 42.0% shooting. Oladipo has also improved in other areas such as rebounding and blocks, which helps keep him on the court even when he’s struggling with his shot. It’s still undetermined whether or not his move to the bench is permanent, but Oladipo is definitely taking it in stride. It’s important to note that the Magic still consider him one of their five best players because he is still playing during crunch time.

Orlando Magic Stats: 12-11 (4th in Southeast Division, 10th in Eastern Conference), 99.9 points scored per game (T18th), 99.2 points allowed per game (T10th).

  • Magic Progress Report: New Head Coach Scott Skiles has done wonders for this young team as they are finally starting to show some progress and have a real chance this season to end their playoff drought. The biggest difference has been the defensive improvement. Last season the Magic were ranked 23rd in points allowed but have improved all the way up to 10th so far this season. The offense has also seen an improvement from their 25th ranked scoring attack last season. Maybe the most important thing is that the Magic are holding onto leads in the 4th quarter and are stealing some wins on the road (5-7 this season compared to 12-29 last year). As long as they continue to develop, the postseason will come either this season or the next.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ Milwaukee (L 90-88): 6 points (3-5 FG), 7 rebounds, assist, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 14 minutes.

@ Cleveland (L 105-100): 2 points (1-1 FG), 4 rebounds, 2 personal fouls, 11 minutes.

@ Phoenix (W 106-96): 2 points (1-1 FG), 5 rebounds, assist, personal foul, 17 minutes.

Vs New York (L 112-110): 7 points (2-2 FG)(2-2 FT), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 17 minutes.

Noah Vonleh’s Stats: 3.1ppg, 3.4rpg, 0.4apg, 0.20spg, 0.24bpg, 0.8tpg, 1.8fpg, 44.4% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 78.6% FT, 14.3mpg.

  • Vonleh’s Progress Report: It took some time for Vonleh to find a role in Portland but now he’s in a position to not only help himself but also the team. After never starting a game during his rookie season, Vonleh has started 14 of the Trail Blazers last 15 games and has found a groove offensively, shooting 53.3% from the floor when he starts compared to 29.6% when he comes off the bench. He’s also scoring twice as many points (4.1ppg starting to 1.9ppg off bench) despite only logging an average of two more minutes per game. The Trail Blazers love what they are getting out of Vonleh so much that he’s still starting even though Meyers Leonard, the player Vonleh replaced after Leonard sustained an injury, is healthy again. I expect Vonleh’s role to get bigger if he continues to improve his production.

Portland Trail Blazers Stats: 10-15 (3rd in Northwest Division, 10th in Western Conference), 101.9 points scored per game (12th), 102.0 points allowed per game (19th).

  • Trail Blazers Progress Report: Everyone in the organization as well as the entire fanbase knew this would be a rebuilding season after the team lost many of their key veterans during free agency. The fact that this team has been as competitive as it has been is a testament to Head Coach Terry Stotts and this young team. Damian Lillard has taken over as the undisputed leader of the team, but it has been the breakout performance of C.J. McCollum, who has seen his scoring average jump from 6.8ppg last season to 19.9ppg this season, that has put this team ahead of schedule. Add in some great chemistry guys like Ed Davis and this team will be back in the playoffs in no time, but not this season.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Vs Detroit (W 104-84): 20 points (5-9 FG)(10-13 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

Vs Miami (W 99-81): 9 points (4-8 FG)(1-2 FT), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, block, 3 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

@ Memphis (W 123-99): 2 points (1-5 FG), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, turnover, 5 personal fouls, 22 minutes.

Vs Boston (L 98-93): 12 points (6-9 FG), 5 rebounds, assist, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 27 minutes.

Cody Zeller’s Stats: 8.0ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.0apg, 0.71spg, 0.57bpg, 0.9tpg, 2.7fpg, 47.9% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 70.3% FT, 22.0mpg.

  • Zeller’s Progress Report: Zeller’s first two seasons with the Hornets have been all about adapting to new situations so it’s no surprise that Zeller has been able to easily adapt yet again this year with a Hornets’ team that’s focusing more on the offensive end than ever before. Currently playing center in place of the injured Al Jefferson, Zeller is starting to find success scoring from the post, as he is starting to show some of the offensive prowess he showed back when he played in Bloomington. It will be interesting to see how the rotation  changes when Jefferson comes back as Zeller is starting to be asset on offense as well as an asset on defense.

Charlotte Hornets Stats: 14-9 (1st in Southeast Division, 4th in Eastern Conference), 102.7 points scored per game (8th), 98.0 points allowed per game (8th).

  • Hornets Progress Report: After finishing 28th in scoring offense a year ago, the Hornets made it a priority to improve their offense this past offseason. Not only has the offense heavily improved (from 94.2ppg last season to 102.7ppg this season), but the shift towards offense hasn’t hampered the defense as the Hornets have sustained a top-10 defense after ranking 7th last year (97.3). Players such as Jeremy Lin and Jermey Lamb have given the Hornets multiple scoring options off the bench, something the team hasn’t had in years. With a lot of the Eastern Conference in flux, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Hornets continue to challenge for a top four seed. However, the more likely scenario would be a six or a seven seed. Still pretty good for a franchise that still isn’t that far-removed from going 7-59.

 

Hoosiers In The NBA: Making Sacrifices To Help Their Teams

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:

Every basketball player who makes it to the NBA has some form of motivation that helped them reach this level. Some of the most common motivations are statistics, fame, and money. However, our former Hoosiers have a different motivation: winning games. It takes a complete team effort to consistently win so some players have to sacrifice things like stats, fame, and money to help their team achieve its ultimate potential. This week I will go over how each former Hoosiers has adjusted their play during this season to help their teams:

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Vs Memphis (L 113-104): 8 points (2-5 FG)(4-4 FT), rebound, 4 assists, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 20 minutes.

@ Houston (L 108-101): 10 points (4-10 FG)(1-1 FT), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 33 minutes.

Vs Cleveland (W 114-108): 19 points (7-9 FG)(1-2 FT), rebound, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 31 minutes.

Coming into this week, Eric Gordon has played 384 regular season basketball games. In all but 17 of those games he has been the starting shooting guard. So it says a lot about how much Gordon values winning to openly accept Head Coach Alvin Gentry’s proposition to come off the bench for the New Orleans Pelicans, especially since he is in a contract year and is playing some of his best basketball since his Clippers-days. For the record, Gordon’s move to the bench was not performance-related but, similar to Victor Oladipo’s situation with the Orlando Magic, is so that he can add scoring to a bench unit that doesn’t have much punch besides Ryan Anderson. The move didn’t last very long as Gentry put Gordon back in the starting lineup after one game and placed Jrue Holiday with the second unit for the last two games. It’s unknown whether or not this change is permanent or if Gentry is just trying out different lineups, but what is known is that Gordon has publicly stated he’d happily return to the bench if it’s what is best for his team.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Minnesota (W 96-93): 13 points (5-11 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

@ Utah (W 103-94): 14 points (5-13 FG)(3-3 FT), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, block, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Clippers (L 103-101): 24 points (10-20 FG)(3-4 FT), 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks, 4 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 34 minutes.

Oladipo’s recent move to the bench is the perfect example of a player sacrificing something (the sacrifice in this case being his place in the starting lineup and about five fewer minutes of playing time) to help his team win. I wrote a lot about Oladipo’s move to the bench last week so I’m not going to go in-depth again on the situation, but just know that things have worked perfectly. Although it did come to an end against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Orlando Magic was still able to achieve their first five-game winning streak since January of 2012. The fact that Oladipo, who a good percentage of Magic fans feel is the team’s best player, has not only accepted but has embraced his new role just confirms his dedication to winning. Then again, Hoosier fans knew that already, but it’s good to know that three years removed from his time in Bloomington that his approach hasn’t changed.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ Los Angeles Clippers (L 102-87): 2 points (1-4 FG), rebound, 4 personal fouls, 13 minutes.

Vs Dallas (L 115-112 OT): 0 points (0-1 FG), rebound, personal foul, 6 minutes.

Vs Indiana (W 123-111): 6 points (3-3 FG), 4 rebounds, turnover, personal foul, 18 minutes.

@ Minnesota (W 109-103): 4 points (2-4 FG), 3 rebounds, assist, steal, 2 turnovers, 15 minutes.

Nothing has changed for Noah Vonleh from last week, which is very interesting by itself. Vonleh has still been starting at power forward for the Portland Trail Blazers despite the team having Meyers Leonard, the previous starting power forward that Vonleh replaced, back from injury for more than a week. Instead, Leonard has anchored the second unit and has played power forward during crunch time. Being in the starting lineup, Vonleh doesn’t have to sacrifice as much as other former Hoosiers but then again he’s only a starter in name, averaging only 15.6 minutes in 10 starts. Vonleh could complain about not getting starter minutes but he’s smarter than that. He understands that his role is relatively small at this stage of his career and so he’s just going with the flow so that he can help his team.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Vs Golden State (L 116-99): 6 points (2-6 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, turnover, personal foul, 17 minutes.

@ Chicago (W 102-96): 17 points (6-10 FG)(5-7 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, block, 4 personal fouls, 32 minutes.

Since being drafted fourth overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by the formerly-known Charlotte Bobcats, Cody Zeller’s role with the organization has changed so many times that I’ve lost count. No former Hoosier currently in the NBA has sacrificed more for the sake of winning than Zeller. It started right from the start of his rookie season when Zeller, drafted for the purposes of being the franchise’s starting center, was forced to back up Al Jefferson for a team that would go on to clinch the eighth seed in the eastern conference. Since then, Zeller has been in and out of the starting lineup based solely on what the Charlotte Hornets need him to do. Yet he’s accepted every new challenge and has used his time in different roles to improve different basketball skills. That’s why it’s so awesome that Zeller is playing very well filling in at center for the injured Jefferson. The position is still Jefferson’s when he returns, but the Hornets have to be thrilled to see Zeller succeed doing what he was initially intended to do for the franchise.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 17.0ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.0apg, 0.90spg, 0.20bpg, 1.7tpg, 2.2fpg, 41.1% FG, 35.4% 3FG, 86.6% FT, 34.4mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 14.7ppg, 6.1rpg, 3.9apg, 1.22spg, 0.83bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 39.5% FG, 27.0% 3FG, 80.3% FT, 30.8mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 2.9ppg, 3.0rpg, 0.3apg, 0.14spg, 0.29bpg, 0.8tpg, 1.8fpg, 39.7% FG, 18.2% 3FG, 75.0% FT, 14.2mpg.

Cody Zeller: 7.4ppg, 5.1rpg, 0.8apg, 0.71spg, 0.53bpg, 0.8tpg, 2.5fpg, 46.7% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 69.5% FT, 21.2mpg.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Oladipo Provides Spark Off The Bench

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:

I try not to favor any one player when I write this column, but sometimes one former Hoosiers’ situation is a lot more compelling and thus deserves more attention. With Victor Oladipo possibly starting a new phase of his career, I think this week I should focus on how Oladipo has recently made the switch from starter to sixth man and has had immediate success. I will go in-depth on how the switch came about and whether or not this is temporary or for the long haul. I’ll also go over how Eric Gordon, Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh fit in their teams’ playing rotations, but first let’s dive into Oladipo’s situation and how it has affected the Orlando Magic:

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Games Started:

@ Cleveland (L 117-103): 10 points (5-12 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

Games Off The Bench:

Vs New York (W 100-91): 24 points (5-15 FG)(13-15 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, personal foul, 26 minutes.

Vs Milwaukee (W 114-90): 17 points (7-12 FG)(3-5 FT), 6 rebounds, 9 assists, steal, 2 turnovers, 24 minutes.

Vs Boston (W 110-91): 19 points (5-12 FG)(7-8 FT), 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, block, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

The idea of a healthy Victor Oladipo coming off the bench seems weird at first glance. Here’s a young guard being lauded by some of the game’s best (LeBron James has said many good things while Kevin Durant actually made a comparison to a young Dwyane Wade), but now is watching his role change from starting shooting guard to sixth man.

Yet it has worked wonders as not only is Oladipo playing better (averaging 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 5.7 assists since leaving the starting lineup) but so are the Magic who have won three in a row and are over .500 heading into December for the first time in the post-Dwight Howard era.

While on the outside it looks like Head Coach Scott Skiles benched Oladipo that is far from the truth. If this was a demotion, Oladipo wouldn’t still be playing during crunch time, when you need your five best players on the court. The real reason behind the switch was to not only to inject some energy into the Magic’s second unit, but to also help find a way to get Oladipo to play better. While he has been excellent defensively, Oladipo has been a bricklayer offensively, shooting 36.6% from the floor coming into this week. The Magic’s young and talented backcourt of Oladipo and Elfrid Payton offers a lot of strengths but craters if neither can shoot above 40% (Payton is shooting a just-as-disgusting 37.2% from the floor).

So why move Oladipo and not Payton? There are actually a few reasons, the first being that Oladipo would likely be more receptive to coming off the bench than Payton. Every Hoosier fan knows that Oladipo is an unselfish player and cares more about winning than stats. The second reason has to do with Oladipo’s ability to get hot offensively and score three or four straight baskets, a trait shared by almost every great sixth man. The last reason is that Payton’s best skill (passing) works best when you surround him with starter-level talent where as Oladipo’s best skill (defense) can translate to either the first or the second unit.

It’s only been three games and Skiles has made it clear that this lineup change isn’t permanent, but so many things are clicking for both the Magic and Oladipo. I know some will think that Oladipo is too talented to be a sixth man, but then again it’s not unprecedented for one of a team’s best players not to start. Just ask James Harden, Manu Ginobili, and Jason Terry, all of whom either won an NBA title or made the NBA Finals while playing the sixth man in their prime.

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Phoenix (W 120-114): 23 points (6-11 FG)(7-7 FT), rebound, 3 assists, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 35 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Clippers (L 111-90): 16 points (5-12 FG)(5-6 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

@ Utah (L 101-87): 4 points (1-9 FG)(1-2 FT), assist, steal, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 32 minutes.

Of all of the former Hoosiers, Gordon’s role is by far the least complicated. He’s one of the New Orleans Pelicans’ best players. As such he both starts the game and plays in crunch time. He’s the secondary scorer and the primary scorer when Anthony Davis gets injured (which seems to happen a lot lately). He’s a three-point specialist who is still capable of getting to the free throw line even after all the injuries he has susatined. Gordon is in an ideal situation and as long as he continues to play like he has so far (minus the last game against the Utah Jazz) then he will remain in this position for the rest of the season.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Vs Chicago (L 93-88): 7 points (3-7 FG), 3 rebounds, block, 3 personal fouls, 12 minutes.

Vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 108-96): 4 points (2-2 FG), 5 rebounds, assist, steal, turnover, personal foul, 20 minutes.

Being the starter doesn’t mean you are one of the five best players on your team. Nor does it guarantee you a lot of playing time. This is especially true for Vonleh, who has started six of the last seven games but has only averaged 17.3 minutes during those starts. While Vonleh’s playing time has increased (he only averages 12.2mpg when coming off the bench), he’s still trailing Ed Davis in minutes (Davis has averaged 25.2 minutes the last five games, all of which were started by Vonleh) and is on the bench during crunch time. However, there is a reason Portland Trail Blazers’ Head Coach Terry Stotts has Vonleh in the starting lineup. Vonleh has played considerably better when playing with the Blazers’ first unit, resulting in a huge jump in both scoring (1.9ppg off bench, 4.7ppg as a starter) and shooting (29.6% off bench, 45.8% as a starter). It remains to be seen whether or not Meyers Leonard takes back his starting spot when he gets back to 100%, but right now the Blazers are getting the most out of Vonleh in the short time that they have had him.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Vs Sacramento (W 127-122 OT): 12 points (4-8 FG)(4-4 FT), 6 rebounds, steal, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

Vs Washington (W 101-87): 11 points (5-7 FG)(1-1 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 22 minutes.

Vs Cleveland (L 95-90): 7 points (1-2 FG)(5-6 FT), 2 rebounds, assist, steal, block, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 15 minutes.

Vs Milwaukee (W 87-82): 2 points (1-3 FG), rebound, assist, 4 personal fouls, 16 minutes.

Where Vonleh has thrived more from starting the game, Zeller has performed much better this season when coming off the bench. So it should come as no surprise that Zeller, who was moved to the bench after starting two games last week, had two of his best games this season when he returned to the bench. While Zeller is shooting better when he starts (50.0% compared to 45.6%), he actually plays more (21.6mpg off bench, 16.0mpg as a starter) and scores more (7.4ppg coming off bench, 3.0ppg as a starter) when he is a reserve. The main reason is that Zeller is allowed to score when he is part of the second unit but when he’s with the starters they need him to focus all of his attention on playing great defense. Luckily, because he’s one of the best defenders on the Charlotte Hornets, Zeller still sees play during crunch time, either as an offense/defense sub for Al Jefferson or as the power forward when he’s clicking offensively. As long as Zeller remains one of the Hornets’ best defensive options, he will continue playing in crunch time regardless of if he starts or not.

Season averages:

Victor Oladipo: 14.3ppg, 6.1rpg, 4.0apg, 1.27spg, 0.60bpg, 1.4tpg, 2.0fpg, 38.2% FG, 26.2% 3FG, 78.8% FT, 31.2mpg.

Eric Gordon: 17.8ppg, 2.4rpg, 3.0apg, 1.06spg, 0.18bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.3fpg, 39.8% FG, 35.1% 3FG, 86.7% FT, 35.5mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 2.9ppg, 3.2rpg, 0.4apg, 0.12spg, 0.35bpg, 0.8tpg, 1.9fpg, 37.3% FG, 18.2% 3FG, 75.0% FT, 14.5mpg.

Cody Zeller: 6.8ppg, 5.0rpg, 0.7apg, 0.73spg, 0.53bpg, 0.8tpg, 2.5fpg, 45.9% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 68.0% FT, 20.8mpg.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Shooting Struggles

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:

The main reason I love statistics is because stats are an easy way to measure a player’s impact on a game. Among all the different types of basketball statistics, I firmly believe that traditional shooting percentages are the most important. I know that traditional shooting statistics have been deemed outdated thanks to the rise of “true shooting percentage” and “effective field goal percentage” (which measures a player’s shot selection and gives the player more credit for more difficult shots), and while they are useful those aren’t the reasons I favor traditional shooting stats. I favor them because they answer this simple question: if this player takes this kind of shot, what are the chances they make it? Unfortunately many former Hoosiers are struggling with their shot so this week I’m going in-depth on which shots are causing which players more trouble than they should:

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Vs Denver (L 115-98): 19 points (7-17 FG)(3-3 FT), rebound, 6 assists, steal, block, turnover, personal foul, 38 minutes.

@ Oklahoma City (L 110-103): 18 points (6-20 FG)(5-5 FT), 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 37 minutes.

Vs San Antonio (W 104-90): 11 points (3-9 FG)(4-4 FT), rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 35 minutes.

Vs Phoenix (W 122-116): 20 points (6-16 FG)(3-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

Of all four Hoosiers in the NBA, Eric Gordon is playing the best and it isn’t even close. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t improve on some things. While his three-point shooting (35.1%) and free throw shooting (86.7%) are pretty good, Gordon’s overall shooting (40.2%) is pretty low in comparison. Part of the reason for his low overall shooting percentage is that Gordon has hit less than 40% of his shots each of the last three games, which includes games where he took 20 and 16 shots. With his three-point field goal percentage decently high, it’s Gordon’s two-point attempts (45.5%) that are hurting his overall shooting.  If he can either raise his two-point shooting to 50% or just focus more of his shooting on three-pointers, he should improve his overall efficiency.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Vs Minnesota (W 104-101 OT): 1 point (0-6 FG)(1-4 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, block, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 20 minutes.

Vs Sacramento (L 97-91): 11 points (4-11 FG)(1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

While Victor Oladipo may be having his best season defensively, he’s also having his worst shooting season. I’ve written quite a bit on his three-point shooting (which is currently at a season-high 28%) but his overall shooting percentage is a disaster, with Oladipo only making 36.6% of his field goal attempts. It would be one thing if Oladipo rarely shot, but he’s taking 13.9 shot attempts per game. In comparison, last season Oladipo was taking 15.1 shot attempts per game but was making 43.6% of those shots. It should be noted that the numbers are a little down due to Oladipo’s recent performances following his return from a concussion, but with how strict the NBA concussion protocol can be I don’t think that can be used as an excuse. Oladipo still has plenty of time to turn his shooting around but maybe until he finds his stroke it would be best if he shot it a little less often.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ San Antonio (L 93-80): 3 points (1-2 FG), 6 rebounds, assist, 3 personal fouls, 22 minutes.

@ Houston (L 108-103): 4 points (2-4 FG), 6 rebounds, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 13 minutes.

Vs Los Angeles Clippers (W 102-91): 4 points (1-2 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, steal, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 18 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Lakers (W 107-93): 0 points (0-3 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, turnover, 17 minutes.

The good news is that Noah Vonleh made his first three of the season this week. The bad news is that he is 1 for 9 (11.1%) shooting from deep this season. For a player who ‘s NBA future is partially tied to his ability to hit from long-range, this has been a frustrating start to the season. Last season Vonleh at least showed some promise when he hit 5 of 13 (38.5%) from three-point range, but Vonleh has almost matched his previous season total for minutes and has shot fewer threes for a lower percentage. I understand that sometimes it is all about where you get the ball in the flow of the offense, but the fact that he’s not being put in positions to attempt more threes makes me believe that the coaches aren’t comfortable yet putting him in those positions. Whether’s its through practice or taking advantage of what few deep shots he already has, Vonleh needs to make more progress so that the coaching staff can feel more confident in letting him take more threes.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

@ New York (L 102-94): 6 points (3-5 FG)(0-1 FT), 5 rebounds, assist, block, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 18 minutes.

Vs Brooklyn (W 116-111): 0 points (0-1 FG), 5 rebounds, block, 3 personal fouls, 14 minutes.

I can excuse Cody Zeller’s low shooting numbers (42.6%) because he is learning to shoot from a different area of the court, but there should be no excuse for Zeller’s terrible shooting (61.5%) from the free throw line. While the majority of Zeller’s free throw attempts came from one game (the November 11 game against the New York Knicks), even if you remove that 8 for 15 performance, Zeller would still only be shooting 66.7% from the charity stripe. What makes this trend so weird is that Zeller has never really had a problem with his foul shooting before, hitting 75.6% at IU and 75.0% over his first two NBA seasons. Whether it’s just a bad stretch or a confidence issue, it is worth monitoring as Zeller’s free throw shooting was once a strength when compared to other centers.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 18.5ppg, 2.6rpg, 3.2apg, 1.21spg, 0.21bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.4fpg, 40.2% FG, 35.1% 3FG, 86.7% FT, 36.1mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 13.1ppg, 6.5rpg, 3.7apg, 1.36spg, 0.73bpg, 1.5tpg, 2.1fpg, 36.6% FG, 28.0% 3FG, 75.0% FT, 32.9mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 2.5ppg, 3.1rpg, 0.3apg, 0.07spg, 0.33bpg, 0.9tpg, 1.9fpg, 33.3% FG, 11.1% 3FG, 75.0% FT, 14.3mpg.

Cody Zeller: 6.4ppg, 5.3rpg, 0.8apg, 0.82spg, 0.64bpg, 0.7tpg, 2.0fpg, 42.6% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 61.5% FT, 21.0mpg.

Hoosiers In The NBA: The Injury Bug Bites

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:

Injuries are a part of sports. Sometimes injuries can derail someone’s career or interrupt their great play while other times injuries are blessings in disguise as it lets someone else show off their potential. All four Hoosiers in the NBA were affected by injuries this week, whether they were injured or someone else who affects their play was injured. Let’s go over how each Hoosier did this week and break down the ramifications of these injuries:

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Vs Dallas (W 120-105): 17 points (5-19 FG)(3-3 FT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, block, personal foul, 34 minutes.

@ Atlanta (L 106-98): 26 points (10-20 FG)(2-3 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 32 minutes.

@ Toronto (L 100-81): 30 points (11-22 FG)(4-5 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, steal, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ New York (L 95-87): 11 points (5-11 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

First off let’s take a moment to celebrate the fact that I’m writing a column about injuries and it has nothing to do with Eric Gordon being injured. In fact it almost feels like he is the only healthy player on the New Orleans Pelicans, with Jrue Holiday playing limited minutes, Tyreke Evans not playing at all, and Anthony Davis recently having to sit out two games with a hip injury.

However, it’s Davis’ injury that affects Gordon the most. Without Davis, the Pelicans’ scoring options looked very bare outside of Gordon, which meant Gordon had to take more offensive responsibility this past week. What we saw was vintage-Gordon as he dropped 26 points against the Atlanta Hawks and a season-high 30 points against the Toronto Raptors. Not only was Gordon scoring a lot but also very efficiently, hitting 50% (10 of 20 vs Atlanta and 11 of 22 vs Toronto) of his shots in both games. Even though we won’t see vintage-Gordon anymore with Davis now healthy again (he had only 11 points vs New York), it was great to see that Gordon can still be a lead-scorer and that he’s still healthy.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Indiana (L 97-84): 15 points (7-18 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 2 blocks, 4 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 38 minutes.

Vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 101-99): 3 points (1-2 FG), 2 rebounds, assist, personal foul, 7 minutes.

We hear about concussions all the time in football, but they are just as devastating in basketball. While you don’t get hit in the head as often in basketball, you also don’t have a helmet and you play on a really hard court. Add the fact that the NBA has a very strict concussion protocol (you must be symptom-free while resting, then you are subjected to increasingly harder physical tasks and then finally you must get the okay from the director of the NBA’s concussion program) and it’s unknown when we will see Victor Oladipo back on the court. It could be the Orlando Magic’s next game or it could be two weeks from now. I’m not exaggerating about the two weeks either, as Oladipo’s teammate Nikola Vucevic was out for three weeks during last season after he sustained a concussion.

It’s never a great time to suffer an injury as serious as a concussion, but this could really hamper Oladipo’s aggressiveness on defense when he does return. It seems silly to think Oladipo won’t play aggressively, but players who sustain concussion are a lot more aware of situations where concussions occur as well as the risks on sustaining multiple concussions. Head Coach Scott Skiles has lauded Oladipo for his defensive intensity and for good reason as Oladipo is playing the best he has ever played on that side of the ball so it would be a shame to see him lose that progress.  I think Oladipo will eventually regain that aggressiveness; I just hope it doesn’t take him awhile to regain it.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ Denver (L 108-104): 0 points (0-3 FG), 2 rebounds, personal foul, 13 minutes.

Vs San Antonio (L 113-101): 2 points (1-2 FG), 2 rebounds, personal foul, 7 minutes.

@ Memphis (L 101-100): 0 points, 2 personal fouls, 7 minutes.

@ Charlotte (L 106-94): 9 points (3-6 FG)(3-4 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

When Meyers Leonard dislocated his shoulder, which will keep him out a month, the question was whether Ed Davis or Noah Vonleh would take his starting spot. At first, the answer was neither as Chris Kaman started against the Memphis Grizzlies. However, Noah Vonleh received the start (his first of his career) against his former team the Charlotte Hornets.

Unfortunately that was more likely Head Coach Terry Stotts letting Vonleh get a chance to prove himself against the team that drafted him than an endorsement for Vonleh to be the starter going forward. When it came to crunch time in the Hornets game, it was Davis who played power forward. Regardless of if he is starting or not, Vonleh still benefits from Leonard’s absence, especially when considering that Vonleh’s minutes were dwindling over the last couple of games. As long as Vonleh plays well the Trail Blazers will find ways to put him on the court.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

@ Minnesota (W 104-95): 14 points (5-8 FG)(4-6 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

Vs New York (W 95-93): 12 points (2-6 FG)(8-15 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, block, personal foul, 25 minutes.

Vs Portland (W 106-94): 1 point (0-4 FG)(1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, turnover, personal foul, 21 minutes.

It was quite the week for Cody Zeller as he recorded back-to-back double digit scoring games for the first time this season, set a career high for free throw attempts (Zeller alone attempted more than twice as many free throw as the opposing Knicks 15-7), and hit a game-winning layup on an inbound play. However, Zeller also missed the Charlotte Hornets’ game against the Chicago Bulls due to a sprained ankle. Zeller returned for the Hornets’ next game against Portland but he only mustered one point. He was still great defensively, blocking a season-high two shots.

Now there is no need to worry about Zeller losing momentum from his injury; the worry comes from the idea that if Zeller was to miss an extensive amount of time he could lose his spot in the rotation to either Frank Kaminsky or Tyler Hansbrough. Zeller was able to beat out both of them before the season, but as I stated injuries give other players a chance to show their potential and that includes second chances. Zeller’s ankle should be fine, so let’s hope he doesn’t sustain anymore injuries.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 19.1ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.8apg, 0.90spg, 0.20bpg, 1.7tpg, 2.8fpg, 42.0% FG, 37.8% 3FG, 82.8% FT, 35.7mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 14.7ppg, 6.9rpg, 3.9apg, 1.56spg, 0.78bpg, 1.7tpg, 1.9fpg, 38.2% FG, 27.9% 3FG, 88.9% FT, 35.1mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 2.5ppg, 2.6rpg, 0.4apg, 0.27bpg, 0.8tpg, 1.7fpg, 32.3% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 70.0% FT, 13.2mpg.

Cody Zeller: 7.1ppg, 5.3rpg, 1.0apg, 1.00spg, 0.56bpg, 0.7tpg, 1.8fpg, 41.7% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 63.2% FT, 22.1mpg.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Finding Their Roles This 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:

Sometimes it takes a while for players to adjust to their teams on a yearly basis. Even if a player never changes teams during their career, that player still sees change from year-to-year in the form of new coaches or new teammates. Even an organization as stable as the San Antonio Spurs witnesses change every season. With former franchise guys like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili getting older, Head Coach Greg Popovich has had to change his approach every season to account for those players’ declined skills and find a way to replace that production, such as giving more offensive control to Kawhi Leonard. Now Leonard is the star while Duncan and Ginobili are the role players.

All four of our former Hoosiers have seen their role change from last season and surprisingly enough each one has already settled into their new role. This week I will go over how each ex-Hoosier’s role has changed from last season and why they have been able to succeed in those roles so far this season:

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Vs Orlando (L 103-94): 21 points (8-19 FG)(1-2 FT), 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 38 minutes.

Vs Atlanta (L 121-115): 22 points (8-15 FG)(3-3 FT), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, block, turnover, 5 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

@ Dallas (L 107-98): 21 points (7-15 FG)(2-2 FT), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 41 minutes.

Another way someone’s role can change is when someone else on the team gets injured and can’t play. A year after transitioning himself into a three-point specialist, Eric Gordon is back to being the lead scoring guard for the New Orleans Pelicans. Gordon saw his role reduced so that Tyreke Evans, who had arguably his best season since his rookie of the year campaign, could be a bigger part of the offense. However, after off-season knee surgery, Evans has yet to take the court and probably won’t for the next couple of months. This has given Gordon his chance to shine once again in the role he was expected to hold for a decade when he came to New Orleans in the Chris Paul-trade. Of course like any good veteran, Gordon didn’t just simply revert to how he played in this role during previous seasons. Instead he is taking advantage of his improved range as Gordon has made at least three three-pointers and has shot 33% or better from deep in all four of his 20-point games this season. This shows that while he is filling the lead guard role at the moment, he is also aware that he needs to keep his three-point skills sharp as he will eventually switch back to that role once Evans returns to the team.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ New Orleans (W 103-94): 12 points (4-8 FG)(3-3 FT), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, block, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ Houston (L 119-114 OT): 18 points (7-16 FG)(3-3 FT), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 44 minutes.

Vs Toronto (W 92-87): 18 points (7-14 FG)(3-4 FT), 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, turnover, personal foul, 31 minutes.

@ Philadelphia (W 105-97): 15 points (6-18 FG)(2-2 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 34 minutes.

I’ve talked a number of times about how Victor Oladipo can become the leader of the Orlando Magic. However, being the leader doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be the best offensive player and the leading scorer. Despite surprising offensive success last season, I think what we saw last year was Oladipo overextending himself. By focusing so much on offense, his defense suffered. Now for the first time in his NBA career, Oladipo is posting an above average player efficiency rating (15.59 PER) and the Orlando Magic are starting to win. He is doing this despite shooting a career-worst 37.9% from the floor and 27.0% from deep. You may be asking how is that possible? Oladipo has made up for his poor shooting by grabbing nearly eight rebounds a game, creating nearly two steals a game, and greatly reducing his turnovers. That last one is huge as Oladipo has been a turnover machine at times (averaging three per game for his career) because he simply tries too hard sometimes. Now he is more careful and patient with the ball and has seen that number cut in half. If Oladipo can raise his shooting percentage north of 40% again, I think we may in for Oladipo’s best season yet.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ Minnesota (W 106-101): 5 points (1-3 FG)(3-4 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 19 minutes.

@ Utah (W 108-92): 1 point (0-3 FG)(1-2 FT), turnover, 3 personal fouls, 13 minutes.

Vs Memphis (W 115-96): 2 points (1-4 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 11 minutes.

Vs Detroit (L 120-103): 4 points (2-3 FG), 3 rebounds, assist, turnover, personal foul, 10 minutes.

Being the only Hoosier to change teams this offseason, it was expected that Noah Vonleh’s role would change as he was with an entirely new organization. Sure enough, Vonleh finds himself in a completely different role with the Portland Trail Blazers as he has gone from last man off the bench to first big man off the bench. While the statistics don’t seem to show much improvement, there’s no way to downplay the fact that the Blazers are continuing to involve Vonleh even though he is still developing. Unlike in Charlotte, the Blazers know the importance long-term of getting Vonleh experience on the court, and that is why Vonleh has had more playing time than a veteran like Chris Kamen who could probably help the team more this season. Vonleh has given some quality minutes but he still needs to improve. However, as long as the Blazers keep supporting him, Vonleh will eventually reward Portland for its patience.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Vs Chicago (W 130-105): 6 points (2-5 FG)(2-2 FT), 5 rebounds, assist, steal, turnover, 16 minutes.

@ Dallas (W 108-94): 11 points (4-6 FG)(3-4 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 steals, block, 3 personal fouls, 19 minutes.

@ San Antonio (L 114-94): 2 points (0-4 FG)(2-4 FT), 5 rebounds, assist, steal, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

Cody Zeller has seen his role change more than any Hoosier I have covered for this column. So it’s no surprise that Zeller again finds himself in a new role for the Charlotte Hornets this season. Last year Zeller seemingly found his niche as an athletic post defender and that has been his primary role this season. The difference this year is that instead of playing alongside Al Jefferson in the starting lineup to help cover for Big Al defensively, Zeller is coming off the bench to force extra defensive pressure when the Hornets’ main scorers (Jefferson and Kemba Walker) are off the court. Not only that, but playing against other bench players gives Zeller a better chance to become more confident on the offensive side of the ball. While his offensive game hasn’t seen much progress, his defensive game has become more versatile. Zeller is currently averaging 1.17 steals per game and has had a steal in all seven games this year. This shows he is becoming more confident as a defender and that he is willing to be more aggressive. If Zeller is able to gain confidence offensively, I could see him moving back into the starting lineup and thus changing his role yet again.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 17.8ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.2apg, 0.83spg, 0.17bpg, 1.7tpg, 2.4fpg, 41.1% FG, 38.3% 3FG, 83.3% FT, 36.0mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 16.3ppg, 7.6rpg, 4.6apg, 1.86spg, 0.71bpg, 1.6tpg, 1.9fpg, 37.9% FG, 27.0% 3FG, 88.9% FT, 38.7mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 2.3ppg, 2.7rpg, 0.4apg, 0.43bpg, 1.0tpg, 1.7fpg, 30.0% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 66.7% FT, 13.4mpg.

Cody Zeller: 6.2ppg, 5.3rpg, 0.5apg, 1.17spg, 0.33bpg, 0.7tpg, 1.7fpg, 43.3% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 73.3% FT, 21.5mpg.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Over-Analyzing A Small Sample Size

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.

We’re not even a full week into the NBA season and there are already so many things I could write about. However, there will be plenty of time this season to discuss Victor Oladipo’s continued improvement and his role as a leader in Orlando, Eric Gordon’s hopeful resurgence, Noah Vonleh’s quest to improve in Portland, and Cody Zeller’s ever-changing role in Charlotte. Instead, since it is really early in the season and each players’ stats are based off of a very small sample size, let’s take a look at some of the more eye-opening stats and predict whether these will be continuing trends or just numbers from a random string of games.

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Golden State (L 111-95): 14 points (5-17 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, 4 turnovers, personal foul, 33 minutes.

@ Portland (L 112-94): 20 points (6-13 FG)(5-7 FT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, turnover, personal foul, 41 minutes.

Vs Golden State (L 134-120): 9 points (3-11 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 5 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

Last season it took until his 16th game for Gordon to score 20 or more points. This year Gordon scored 20 points in his second game of the season. Now it should be noted that last year was an anomaly as Gordon had the worst start to his career before turning things around after he came back from his shoulder injury. In addition, Gordon currently has a lot of offensive responsibility with Tyreke Evans currently out. So if I was to predict whether or not Gordon keeps up his current scoring pace (14.3 points a game) I would lean towards saying yes. In fact I see Gordon averaging between 15-16 points during Evans absence. Gordon has had a rough shooting start, hitting only 14 of his 41 shots (34.1%), but I look for that to improve, increasing his point totals. However when Evans returns I see Gordon averaging around 12-13 points a game like he did last season. Add both together and I think Gordon will end up keeping his 14 points a game trend.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Vs Washington (L 88-87): 17 points (7-20 FG)(2-2 FT), 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

Vs Oklahoma City (L 139-136 2OT): 21 points (8-27 FG)(2-2 FT), 13 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals, block, 5 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 51 minutes.

@ Chicago (L 92-87): 13 points (5-13 FG)(1-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, personal foul, 39 minutes.

Oladipo had five double-digit rebounding games before coming into this season so I think it is safe to say that he won’t continue averaging nine rebounds a game. Of course, five to six is still a very realistic goal when you consider that the Magic don’t have a great rebounder outside of Nikola Vucevic. What I am more focused on is Oladipo’s very slow shooting start. Both Oladipo’s overall and three-point field goal percentage are the worse it has ever been after his first three games (33.3% FG and 25.0% 3FG). What’s even more concerning is that he has also taken the most shots he has ever taken in his first three games (60), which just compounds the issue. I know Oladipo has the ability to turn this around but I fear that if he doesn’t do it soon he may lose the lead scoring role in the offense that he has worked so hard to achieve. Head Coach Scott Skiles will still play Oladipo no matter what, but if Oladipo doesn’t turn his shooting around his 17.9 points a game last year might end up remaining his career-high.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Vs New Orleans (W 112-94): 2 points (1-4 FG), turnover, 2 personal fouls, 14 minutes.

@ Phoenix (L 110-92): 2 points (1-2 FG), 6 rebounds, assist, block, 2 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

Vs Phoenix (L 101-90): 0 points (0-1 FG), 4 rebounds, assist, 6 minutes.

Of all the Hoosiers, Vonleh’s stats are the hardest to decipher because there aren’t many to analyze. Despite playing a career-high 13.7 minutes per game, we are still seeing the same old stat totals we are accustomed to seeing (good rebounding numbers and nothing else). It is still very early and Vonleh is still trying to fit in with the Trail Blazers, who he has only been with for a couple of months, but it has been a slight disappointment to not see any clear improvement right away after such a promising summer-league performance. I think we will start seeing a noticeable improvement but it looks like it will take a little longer than expected.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

@ Miami (L 104-94): 7 points (2-4 FG)(3-4 FT), 12 rebounds, steal, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

@ Atlanta (L 97-94): 5 points (2-5 FG)(1-1 FT), 2 rebounds, steal, 3 personal fouls, 17 minutes.

Vs Atlanta (L 94-92): 6 points (3-6 FG), 5 rebounds, assist, steal, block, turnover, 23 minutes.

Some of Zeller’s stats have been so up and down that they end up looking rather normal (for example Zeller had 12 rebounds in his first game and then had only 2 rebounds in his second game), but there are two stats that look rather interesting when you consider his expectations coming into this season. While he had quite a few steals in college (1.19 per game at IU), Zeller has never really generated them during his time in the NBA. Yet he has had steal in each of his first three games, marking only the third time in his NBA career he has had a steal in three consecutive games. Meanwhile Zeller went from being an improving passing big man to having only one assist in three games. Zeller’s role as first big man off the bench means that his stats are going to differ the most on a game-to-game basis in comparison to other former Hoosiers because his job for the team will change depending on the situation. However, with Zeller being the only above-average defender on the team with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out, the improvement in steals may be here to stay. As for the decrease in assists, I think that will balance out. He made too much progress last season in that area to revert back.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 14.3ppg, 3.3rpg, 3.0apg, 1.00spg, 1.7tpg, 2.3fpg, 34.1% FG, 33.3% 3FG, 81.8% FT, 32.7mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 17.0ppg, 9.0rpg, 5.7apg, 2.33spg, 1.33bpg, 2.0tpg, 2.7fpg, 33.3% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 83.3% FT, 42.0mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 1.3ppg, 3.3rpg, 0.7apg, 0.33bpg, 0.3tpg, 1.3fpg, 28.6% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 13.7mpg.

Cody Zeller: 6.0ppg, 6.3rpg, 0.3apg, 1.00spg, 0.33bpg, 0.7tpg, 1.7fpg, 46.7% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 80.0% FT, 23.3mpg.