Hoosiers In The NBA: What To Improve Upon In 2016

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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.