Hoosiers In The NBA: Oladipo And Zeller Earn Contract Extensions

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA on its new site! Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:


It was an eventful first week of the season as Victor Oladipo and Eric Gordon played their first games with their new teams and Troy Williams played his first NBA game and later got his first NBA start.

Yet the biggest news came off the court as Cody Zeller as well as Oladipo received contract extensions that will keep them on their current teams for the foreseeable future .

This week I will go over both extensions and explain whether or not the deal was a good one or not. Just a fair reminder that due to the salary cap increase, these numbers will seem incredibly inflated but just know that these types of contracts will be the norm in the future. Also the weekly game logs and season averages will be at the end of the article.


Oladipo signs 4-year $84 million extension with Oklahoma City Thunder

Ever since they lost Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder have made it their number one goal to lock up all of their best talent, starting with Russell Westbrook. This week they locked up two more core pieces as both Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams were given four-year contract extensions, thus preventing both from becoming restricted free agents next offseason.

What’s interesting is that Adams ended up getting a bigger deal than Oladipo. While Oladipo will earn $84 million over the course of his extension, Adams will get $100 million over that same timespan.

At first glance this seems a little confusing but it makes a lot more sense when you look at the NBA as a whole. Adams has already proven to be a great defensive center and just came off a playoff appearance where he flashed great offensive potential. Meanwhile, Oladipo is proving to be a great defensive guard and secondary ball-handler, but his inconsistent shooting has prevented him from reaching his offensive potential. Add in the fact that great centers are harder to find than great wings and the two deals seem just right.

That being said, if Oladipo is able to reach his offensive potential over the course of his new contract while maintaining his defensive excellence, he could end up earning an even better deal down the line. For now, the contract he just signed suits him perfectly.

Zeller signs 4-year $56 million extension with Charlotte Hornets

At first I thought this deal was a little low for Zeller, but the more I thought about it, the more the contract made sense.

While Zeller is expected to take full control of the center position this season, it hasn’t happened yet (due to missing practice time in the preseason because of injury) plus he’s always been in and out of the starting lineup during his time with the Charlotte Hornets. The team definitely sees Zeller as a key piece moving forward but if someone like Frank Kaminsky for example ends up developing into an elite shooting big man, will the Hornets really want to spend more for Zeller if he’s splitting time at center or becomes a key reserve?

It should also be mentioned that Zeller will already make more than teammate team captain Kemba Walker next year (again, a side effect of the huge salary cap spike) so in a way you could say Zeller is getting a pretty generous deal already.


Eric Gordon: Guard, Houston Rockets:

Season Averages:

16.8ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.5apg, 1.00spg, 0.00bpg, 2.0tpg, 2.3fpg, 42.3% FG, 35.5% 3FG, 85.7% FT, 33.3mpg (4 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Los Angeles Lakers (L 120-114): 19 points (7-15 FG)(3-4 FT), 5 rebounds, steal, turnover, personal foul, 34 minutes.

@ Dallas (W 106-98): 18 points (4-9 FG)(7-8 FT), 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 33 minutes.

vs Dallas (W 93-92): 14 points (5-15 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, steal, 3 turnovers, personal foul, 33 minutes.

@ Cleveland (L 128-120): 16 points (6-13 FG), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 33 minutes.


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder:

Season Averages:

17.0ppg, 3.7rpg, 2.3apg, 1.00spg, 0.67bpg, 3.3tpg, 2.3fpg, 34.0% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 84.6% FT, 36.0mpg (3 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Philadelphia (W 103-97): 10 points (4-16 FG)(2-3 FT), 5 rebounds, assist, block, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

vs Phoenix (W 113-110 OT): 21 points (7-17 FG)(6-7 FT), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, block, 4 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 44 minutes.

vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 113-96): 20 points (7-20 FG)(3-3 FT), rebound, 4 assists, steal, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 38 minutes.


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Season Averages:

5.8ppg, 1.5rpg, 0.0apg, 0.25spg, 0.25bpg, 0.5tpg, 1.0fpg, 53.3% FG, 42.9% 3FG, 80.0% FT, 11.3mpg (4 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs Utah (W 113-104): 11 points (5-5 FG), rebound, block, personal foul, 16 minutes.

vs Los Angeles Clippers (L 114-106): 6 points (1-3 FG)(4-5 FT), turnover, 3 personal fouls, 10 minutes.

@ Denver (W 115-113): 0 points (0-0 FG), 4 rebounds, 7 minutes.

vs Golden State (L 127-104): 6 points (2-7 FG), rebound, steal, turnover, 12 minutes.


Troy Williams: Forward, Memphis Grizzlies:

Season Averages:

5.7ppg, 0.7rpg, 0.7apg, 1.33spg, 0.33bpg, 1.0tpg, 1.3fpg, 55.6% FG, 33.3% 3FG, 66.7% FT, 13.3mpg (3 games)

Recent Game Logs:

vs Minnesota (W 102-98): DNP – Coach’s Decision

@ New York (L 111-104): 3 points (1-2 FG)(0-2 FT), assist, 2 steals, personal foul, 9 minutes.

vs Washington (W 112-103): 0 points (0-0 FG), personal foul, 1 minute.

@ Minnesota (L 116-80): 14 points (4-7 FG)(6-7 FT), 2 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, block, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 30 minutes.


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Season Averages:

10.7ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.0apg, 0.67spg, 1.67bpg, 1.0tpg, 3.3fpg, 61.1% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 66.7% FT, 19.7mpg (3 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Milwaukee (W 107-96): 15 points (5-6 FG)(5-6 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, turnover, 5 personal fouls, 14 minutes.

@ Miami (W 97-91): 10 points (4-8 FG)(2-3 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

vs Boston (L 104-98): 7 points (2-4 FG)(3-6 FT), 9 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

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Hoosiers In The NBA 2016-2017 Season Preview

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA on its new site! Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:


It seems like it was only yesterday that Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo were leading the Indiana Hoosiers to the 2013 Big Ten Championship. Now both enter their fourth NBA season with a lot to prove.

I also enter my fourth season of covering Hoosiers In The NBA, and this year the total number of Hoosiers has risen to five as rookie Troy Williams was able to impress the Memphis Grizzlies enough to earn a spot on their 15-man roster. For my preview this year, I will explain how each former Hoosiers’ situation has changed and forecast how they will do after those changes. I’ll also give my stat projections just for fun. So without further ado, let’s start with the oldest current Hoosier in the NBA:


Eric Gordon: Guard, Houston Rockets:

Last Season’s Stats:

15.2ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.7apg, 0.96spg, 0.31bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 41.8% FG, 38.4% 3FG, 88.8% FT, 32.9mpg. (45 games)

What Has Changed:

While a lot of positives did come out of Eric Gordon’s time with the New Orleans Pelicans, overall it was for the best that the two went their separate ways. While Gordon did learn how to become a three-point specialist during his time in the Big Easy, that was only because a terrible run of injuries ruined any chance Gordon had of becoming an All-Star. Now Gordon takes his new skill set with him as he starts anew in Houston.

What To Expect:

Gordon never fully became a three-point specialist in New Orleans because team injuries forced him to take bigger offensive roles. However, he’ll have the perfect opportunity to do that playing for a Houston Rockets team coached by Mike D’Antoni and led by James Harden. In fact, Harden’s switch to point guard means that Gordon will get to benefit from playing a ton of minutes with Harden, whose passing will give Gordon numerous open three-point looks over the course of the season. As long as he stays healthy, this might be a bright new beginning for Gordon.

Projected Stats:

13.9ppg, 2.0rpg, 3.3apg, 0.82spg, 0.16bpg, 1.4tpg, 2.6fpg, 45.8% FG, 39.0% 3FG, 86.7% FT, 29.3mpg.


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder:

Last Season’s Stats:

16.0ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.9apg, 1.61spg, 0.75bpg, 2.1tpg, 2.4fpg, 43.8% FG, 34.8% 3FG, 83.0% FT, 33.0mpg. (72 games)

What Has Changed:

So much has changed for Victor Oladipo in the span of a few months. First it looked like he was going to benefit from the Orlando Magic hiring defensive-minded Frank Vogel. However, that hire became meaningless when he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Yet things still looked great as Oladipo was set up to play on a championship contender alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Then Durant left to play for the Golden State Warriors. Now Oladipo must show he can be Westbrook’s sidekick as the Thunder try to move on in the post-Durant era.

What To Expect:

Oladipo has never had a teammate as talented as Westbrook or a team as good as this Thunder squad, so the expectations are high for the former second overall pick. Westbrook will undoubtedly step up his performance without Durant around but even he can’t replace all of Durant’s production, which gives Oladipo a chance to slide in and fill that role. I expect some struggles early on, but by the time the All-Star break passes, I think we may see the beginning of a All-Star career from Oladipo.

Projected Stats:

19.4ppg, 5.3rpg, 3.7apg, 1.89spg, 0.93bpg, 2.7tpg, 2.5fpg, 46.5% FG, 37.1% 3FG, 81.3% FT, 37.8mpg


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Last Season’s Stats:

3.6ppg, 3.9rpg, 0.4apg, 0.35spg, 0.33bpg, 0.6tpg, 1.9fpg, 42.1% FG, 23.9% 3FG, 74.5% FT, 15.1mpg. (78 games)

What Has Changed:

After starting 56 games last year, Noah Vonleh will have a hard time finding consistent playing time this year as the Portland Trail Blazers added Festus Ezeli to an already loaded frontcourt this offseason. Add in small-ball power forward Al-Farouq Aminu and that’s six players for only two positions.

What To Expect:

Vonleh was without a doubt the hardest player for me to forecast. It would have been easy for me to look at the depth chart and conclude that he won’t see the floor every game and may only play spot minutes. Yet last night proved yet again that Head Coach Terry Stotts  continues to try and find playing time for Vonleh (which Vonleh rewarded him by scoring 11 points on 5 of 5 shooting in 16 minutes) despite the positional logjam. For now I’m going to predict similar stats to last year but minutes could dry up when Ezeli is fully healthy.

Projected Stats:

3.1ppg, 3.7rpg, 0.3apg, 0.39spg, 0.44bpg, 0.5tpg, 1.4fpg, 46.8% FG, 32.8% 3FG, 77.2% FT, 7.2mpg.


Troy Williams: Forward, Memphis Grizzlies:

Preseason Stats:

13.2ppg, 4.0rpg, 0.7apg, 1.67spg, 0.33bpg, 1.2tpg, 2.3fpg, 52.1% FG, 42.1% 3FG, 72.4% FT, 25.5mpg. (6 games)

What To Expect:

First off I want to give a big congratulations to Troy Williams, who didn’t let the fact he went undrafted deter him from working his butt off to make the Memphis Grizzlies’ opening night roster.

Not only did Williams make a team, but he has a really good chance to become a rotation player for the whole year. He’ll get to audition the first few weeks as  Tony Allen and Chandler Parsons try to ease back from injuries and could even start opening night at small forward. How he plays the first few weeks will determine whether he becomes a permanent rotation player or an end of the bench reserve for the rest of this season.

Projected Stats:

5.6ppg, 2.3rpg, 0.9apg, 0.88spg, 0.40bpg, 1.8tpg, 1.6fpg, 43.9% FG, 34.0% 3FG, 74.6% FT, 12.5mpg.


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Last Season’s Stats:

8.7ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.0apg, 0.78spg, 0.86bpg, 0.9tpg, 2.8fpg, 52.9% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 75.4% FT, 24.3mpg. (73 games)

What Has Changed:

The Charlotte Hornets made a big decision this past offseason when they chose Cody Zeller over Al Jefferson to be the team’s center moving forward. Yet a lingering knee injury has held Zeller out and now the man signed to back him up, Roy Hibbert, will play the same role as Jefferson did last year as he will split time at center while Zeller tries to recover and make up for so many missed practices.

What To Expect:

While on the surface this looks like the same dilemma we all saw last year, things are a lot more favorable for Zeller in the long run this time around. Unlike Jefferson’s low post offense, Hibbert doesn’t have that one aspect of his game that makes him a clear upgrade over Zeller during certain situations. While Hibbert is still a good defender, a healthy Zeller is still better than a healthy Hibbert. While I do expect both to have an even amount of playing time early on, we will likely see Zeller gradually take more minutes away from Hibbert as the season goes along.

Projected Stats:

10.1ppg, 7.8rpg, 1.6apg, 0.91spg, 1.05bpg, 0.9tpg, 2.7fpg, 54.4% FG, 15.0% 3FG, 76.5% FT, 29.8mpg.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Williams and Vonleh Impress In Summer League

Welcome to offseason coverage of Hoosiers In The NBA! Today I will be recapping how former Hoosiers performed during Summer League play. Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:


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

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

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

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


Noah Vonleh, Portland Trail Blazers

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

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

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


Troy Williams, Phoenix Suns

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

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

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

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


Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, Brooklyn Nets

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

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

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

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


Verdell Jones, NBA D-League Select Team

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

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

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

Hoosiers In The NBA: Gordon’s Fit In Houston And All Other Free Agent Deals That Affect Former Hoosiers

Welcome to offseason coverage of Hoosiers In The NBA! Today I will be recapping how the first weekend of free agency affected almost every former Hoosier, including how well Eric Gordon will fit on the Houston Rockets. Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:


The first weekend of free agency is in the books and already a lot of important moves were made. Even though only one former Hoosier moved teams this weekend, almost all of them were affected by their teams either signing or not signing certain free agents. So for this edition of Hoosiers In The NBA, I will look at every former Hoosier and discuss how they were affected by the last 96 hours.


How Gordon Fits In Houston

Initially I thought Eric Gordon’s poor overall shooting percentage (41.8%) and two finger injuries (37 games missed) last year would limit him to only getting a one-year deal in free agency for around $5 to 8 million, but it seems I underestimated the salary cap increase.

Instead, Gordon has signed a four-year contract with the Houston Rockets worth $53 million.  That deal is almost identical to his last contract (four years, $58 million back in 2012) despite the fact Gordon has missed 116 games since he signed his last deal.

However, when Gordon has been healthy he has proven to be one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA, shooting 39.5% (411 of 1040) from long-range during the past four seasons. That’s why Gordon was a no-brainer for Houston, especially now that Mike D’Antoni is the head coach.

Famed coach of the mid-2000s Phoenix Suns “Seven Seconds Or Less” Offense, D’Antoni looks to replicate that in Houston with James Harden as the focal point. Here is a link to an explanation of how D’Antoni’s fast break offense operates, but basically Gordon would be an ideal corner shooter for Harden to drive-and-kick to. The Rockets also signed Ryan Anderson to fill the role of stretch-four.

If Gordon can stay healthy, he could play a vital role in helping the Rockets get back to the playoffs. If he doesn’t start, I could see him play the role of sixth man, where he can relieve Harden for stretches and play with him during crunch time.


Oladipo’s Success In OKC Now A Mystery

Unfortunately the idea of seeing Victor Oladipo play on a title-contender was short-lived after Kevin Durant decided to sign with the Golden State Warriors. Now his new team is one big decision away from potentially being in the same position his old team was in during his whole career.

The Oklahoma City Thunder need to try and get Russell Westbrook to sign a contract extension or else they may have to trade him so they don’t lose him for nothing like they did with Durant. If Westbrook stays, the Thunder should still make the playoffs and Oladipo could become the second-best player on the team. If Westbrook is traded, Oladipo will be in the same situation he was in during his three seasons with Orlando. This will definitely be a something that will require monitoring over the coming days and weeks.


Charlotte Chooses To Build Around Zeller

Last season Cody Zeller proved that not only could he be a good NBA center, but also proved that he was the exact type of center the Charlotte Hornets needed to run their offense effectively.

Those beliefs were backed up this past weekend when the Hornets let Al Jefferson leave for the Indiana Pacers. For most of his time in Charlotte, Jefferson was the starting center and the best offensive player on the Hornets. Yet when the offense started to click with Zeller filling in for an injured Jefferson, there looked like there might be a changing of the guard but nothing was for sure. With Jefferson now out of the picture, Zeller is now the unquestionable choice at center.

For anyone wondering, the signing of Roy Hibbert will not affect Zeller at all. Hibbert was signed only for depth purposes as Zeller was the only center on the Hornets’ roster.


Vonleh Still In Portland’s Plans For Now

Technically the Portland Trail Blazers haven’t made a free agent move that directly affects Noah Vonleh. Yet the fact they haven’t made such a move does affect Vonleh when you consider the circumstances.

After making a surprising run to the playoffs, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see the Trail Blazers try to sign a veteran power forward to help sustain the team’s success. They tried and failed with Pau Gasol, but other than that the Trail Blazers haven’t been looking for someone who would prevent Vonleh from competing for the starting power forward position next season. There’s still a chance that kind of player could still get signed in the days to come, but for now it looks like that, despite a shaky season, Portland still believes in Vonleh.


Ferrell’s Path To Make The Nets’ NBA Roster Just Got Harder

One look at the Phoenix Suns’ roster and you can tell Troy Williams will have an uphill battle to make the team’s NBA roster with players like P.J. Tucker, Brandon Knight, and Devin Booker headlining a loaded logjam at wing.

Yet there was hope for Yogi Ferrell when he signed with the Brooklyn Nets for summer league. With the team’s giant hole at the point guard position, it became plausible that Ferrell could end up being the Nets’ backup point guard.

Now all of that looks unlikely after the signing of Jeremy Lin and the probable signing of Tyler Johnson (unless the Miami Heat match Brooklyn’s offer sheet). There’s still a chance Ferrell could make the NBA roster as a third point guard (Johnson is technically a combo guard so it’s possible) but the chances have greatly diminished since the beginning of free agency.

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

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA on its new site! Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:


With no more former Indiana Hoosiers left in the NBA playoffs, it’s time to transition to offseason coverage. Tomorrow I will kick things off by taking a look at Victor Oladipo’s Orlando Magic and their coaching vacancy.

For now let’s put a bow on this past season by grading the four former Hoosiers on how they performed during the 2015-2016 season. I’ll take a look at what each player accomplished and also what parts of their game they fell short on this season. The final grades are not measuring the overall quality of the player but are instead based on how the player did in relation to expectations. Without further ado, here are the end of the season report cards:

 


Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Season stats:

15.2ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.7apg, 0.96spg, 0.31bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 41.8% FG, 38.4% 3FG, 88.8% FT, 32.9mpg. (45 games)

What He Accomplished:

Coming off a season where he posted a career-low 13.4 points per game, it seemed that Eric Gordon was transitioning from being a lead player to role player. While team injuries may have forced it, Gordon proved this season that he can still be the team’s lead scorer if necessary. Despite playing 16 fewer games, he had the same number of 20+ points games (13) as he did last season. He also had the highest free throw percentage and the fewest turnovers of his career.

What Needs Improvement:

After shooting over 40% from three-point range for the first time in his career last season, Gordon failed to shot above 40% this year, making last season seem more like an aberration. While 38.4% is still very good, it isn’t the elite-level shooting that could have garnered him some good money in free agency despite his injury history. Speaking of which,  Gordon suffered a double whammy by missing nearly half the season due to injury, marking the fourth time in his eight-year NBA career he failed to play 60 games.

Conclusion:

It’s hard to properly judge Gordon or any member of the New Orleans Pelicans after all the bad injury luck (combined 531 games missed to injury). Gordon played well this past year and showed he still has something left in the tank, but his bad luck with injuries hit again and forced questions about his durability to resurface after a relatively healthy 2014-2015 season. In the end, I think they end up canceling each other out.

Season Grade: C

 


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Season stats:

16.0ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.9apg, 1.61spg, 0.75bpg, 2.1tpg, 2.4fpg, 43.8% FG, 34.8% 3FG, 83.0% FT, 33.0mpg. (72 games)

What He Accomplished:

Having exceeded expectations offensively, it was the defensive side of the ball that Victor Oladipo needed to improve upon going into his third season. Under the direction of now former Head Coach Scott Skiles, Oladipo finally started showing why scouts thought he could become one of the premier defenders in the NBA. He also showed his versatility when he successfully filled the role of sixth man  for the Orland Magic during the early parts of the season.

What Needs Improvement:

Unfortunately Oladipo’s focus on improving his defense slightly diminished his offense output (he averaged 17.9 points per game in 2014-2015). The good news is that he did find a good balance toward the end of the season, especially during his 45-point performance against Cleveland. Yet the fact that his shooting numbers stayed the same (he shot 43.6% overall and 33.9% from deep last season) is a little concerning and will be the main focus for next season.

Conclusion:

Despite a dip in statistics, this was actually a very successful year for Oladipo. It cannot be overstated how much he has improved as an NBA defender and he should only get better. However, the biggest question going into this season is still unanswered, as we still don’t know whether Oladipo is an All-Star or just a really good role player. We’ll have to wait until next season to answer that question but the future still looks bright.

Season Grade: B+

 


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Season stats:

3.6ppg, 3.9rpg, 0.4apg, 0.35spg, 0.33bpg, 0.6tpg, 1.9fpg, 42.1% FG, 23.9% 3FG, 74.5% FT, 15.1mpg. (78 games)

What He Accomplished:

Despite still being very raw, Noah Vonleh was able to earn a decent amount of playing time and start 56 games for a Portland Trail Blazers team that finished with the fifth-best record in the Western Conference. He also got quite a bit more comfortable taking NBA three-pointers, attempting 46 after only trying 13 during his rookie season.

What Needs Improvement:

Did I mention he is still very raw? Despite playing almost five more minutes per game, his season averages barely improved. His performance remained mostly stagnant throughout the whole season despite being given many opportunities to improve.

Conclusion:

While Vonleh probably fell way below expectations, it’s important to note that the kid still isn’t even 21 years old. After getting shipped from Charlotte to Portland, you could argue that Vonleh had to go through another rookie season. However, it’s not a good sign that instead of adjusting as the season moved along he just maintained his level of play. Right or not, the expectations for next year will be high and the leniency will be low.

Season Grade: D+

 


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Season stats:

8.7ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.0apg, 0.78spg, 0.86bpg, 0.9tpg, 2.8fpg, 52.9% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 75.4% FT, 24.3mpg. (73 games)

What He Accomplished:

Cody Zeller’s standing with the Charlotte Hornets is so much better now than it was at the end of last season. Zeller needed to find a role to avoid being the odd man out and he definitely did. Thanks to a stylistic shift to a more up-tempo offense, Zeller’s speed, athleticism, and basketball I.Q. lend himself to being the perfect center for the Hornets. He also finally made over 50% of his shots for the first time in his NBA career.

What Needs Improvement:

Zeller saw a huge jump in the number of fouls he committed this season. While he’s still a very good defender, he’s not a rim protector and has accumulated the majority of his fouls because of this. There was also a decrease in the number of assists and while the number of rebounds did improve it could still be a little better.

Conclusion:

Unlike Oladipo, Zeller discovered his identity during his third NBA season and now can build towards perfecting his role. While the statistics may say he’s only contributing a little to the offense, the fact is that his screens and pick-and-roll play make this offense run perfectly. He still has a few things that he needs to work on but he definitely exceeded expectations by turning from a backup center fighting for a roster spot to a key part of the Hornets for years to come.

Season Grade: A-

 

Hoosiers In The NBA: Reviewing The Script To The Charlotte-Miami Series

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

For today’s edition of Hoosiers In The NBA, I’m going to recap the “script” to the Charlotte-Miami series and map out how the series actually mirrored a five act theatrical play. Plus I’ll also review how Cody Zeller did in comparison to my projected stats.

As for the Portland-Golden State series, it should be an interesting one regardless of whether or not Noah Vonleh plays, but for the purposes of not rehashing this same topic (how does Vonleh find a way to play in this series) over and over again, this will probably be my last playoff update unless Vonleh’s role increases.

 


Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: (6) Charlotte Hornets vs (3) Miami Heat (Miami Wins 4-3)

Game 1: Miami 123, Charlotte 91

  • Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 9 points (3-4 FG)(3-4 FT), 7 rebounds, assist, personal foul, 20 minutes.

Game 2: Miami 115, Charlotte 103

  • Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 8 points (3-6 FG)(2-3 FT), 5 rebounds, 4 personal fouls, 14 minutes.

Game 3: Charlotte 96, Miami 80

  • Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 12 points (4-8 FG)(4-4 FT), 8 rebounds, block, 2 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

Game 4: Charlotte 89, Miami 85

  • Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 8 points (3-4 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

Game 5: Charlotte 90, Miami 88

  • Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 4 points (1-4 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, steal, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

Game 6: Miami 97, Charlotte 90

  • Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 12 points (4-5 FG)(4-6 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, turnover, personal foul, 18 minutes.

Game 7: Miami 106, Charlotte 73

  • Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 6 points (3-7 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 turnovers 2 personal fouls, 17 minutes.

The Charlotte Hornets and the Miami Heat generated some compelling theatre during their series as the amount of twists and turns transformed a playoff series that had more blowouts than close games into one of the most interesting first round series in recent NBA history. So why not recap the series like it was a five act play? Here is the script:

ACT 1: The Heat On Fire – Game 1 & 2

  • The first act is primarily for creating exposition, but its other function is to introduce the conflict.
  • The exposition is straightforward and present before the series begins (it’s the playoffs and Miami has home-court advantage), but the conflict arises as a result of the Hornets getting run off the court during the first two games. The Heat combined to hit 93 of their 161 field attempts (57.8%), including 18 of 34 (52.9%) from deep in the first two games. The Hornets were now in the process of getting swept and, to add insult to injury, were now just one loss away from tying the record more most consecutive playoff games lost (13 by the New York Knicks).

ACT 2: Clifford Counters – Game 3 & 4

  • This act is called the rising action as the events of this act build up tension and draw the plot towards the climax.
  • Tension definitely began to rise for the Heat as what once looked like a possible sweep saw the series tied after four games. Charlotte Head Coach Steve Clifford made a great lineup change as he moved Cody Zeller to the bench to enhance the second unit, placing Al Jefferson in the starting lineup, and also started Frank Kaminsky at power forward, moving Marvin Williams to small forward. Both Zeller and Kaminsky had their best playoff games during game three as Zeller scored 12 and Kaminsky scored 15. Then in game four, Kemba Walker took over as his 34 points helped the Hornets even the series.

ACT 3: Courtney Lee’s Offensive Rebound – Game 5

  • The climax occurs in the third act as every building up to this point reaches a boiling point.
  • The climax (at least for the Hornets) happened when Courtney Lee grabbed a huge offensive rebound off of Walker’s missed 16-footer and hit the game-winning three-pointer with 25 seconds left. You could also argue that the climax was when Dwyane Wade rebounded a blocked Goran Dragic three-pointer and was unable to draw a foul as a 50-50 call went Charlotte’s way when the referees didn’t whistle Zeller for a personal foul.

ACT 4: Wade Refuses To Die – Game 6

  • The falling action follows the climax and details what happens after the climax and starts to wrap up the narrative.
  • I had to cheat a little bit here as game six could be considered either the climax or the falling action depending on which team’s point of view you are taking.
  • It’s a climax for Miami as the franchise’s greatest player refused to let his team lose by imposing his will on the game when it mattered most. Wade scored 10 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, but more impressively he made two three-pointers in the period after not making a single one in the last four months.
  • For Charlotte this game is the falling action due to the realization after the loss that the Hornets had just blown their chance to win the playoffs series. Sure they had just won in Miami during game five, but now the Heat had all the momentum after finally solving the new Charlotte lineup.

ACT 5: Dragic, Defense Dominate – Game 7

  • The last act is called the denouement, which basically is just a conclusion or resolution to the story.
  • With the final outcome never in doubt after halftime, a lot of people considered game seven to be anti-climatic. While not the exact opposite of the climax, the denouement is more focused on wrapping up the story and getting to the final point. So Dragic’s 25 points and the Heat’s overall defensive brilliance helped make sure that the conclusion of this series was as clear as possible.

It was a valiant effort for the Hornets as they look to be a team on the rise as long as they retain their key free agents (especially Nic Batum) this summer. One of the reasons this team will continue to get better is because of Cody Zeller, as he actually surpassed my expectations by a little bit during the Miami series:

  • Cody Zeller’s Predicted Stats: 6.5ppg, 6.1rpg, 0.83spg, 1.50 bpg, 47.0% FG, 28.3mpg
  • Cody Zeller’s Actual Stats: 8.4ppg, 5.3rpg, 0.43bpg, 55.3% FG, 81.0% FT, 19.6mpg

While the numbers are a little off, for the most part I was right about the role Zeller would have in this series. He provided some excellent defense and was able to help the offense function with his ability to set perfect screens. However there were two things that surprised me:

  1. Zeller actually was involved in the scoring more than I anticipated. I figured he’d get a few passes in the paint off of pick-and-rolls, but Zeller actually attempted about a half dozen mid-range jumpers and ended up making most of them. This was usually the result of him getting the ball wide-open at the top of the key after the passer was double-teamed. He was also very confident at the foul line as he actually shot better in the playoffs (81.0%) than he did during the regular season (75.4%).
  2. The other thing that surprised me was that Zeller didn’t play anywhere near as much as I thought he would. Granted I didn’t predict that Zeller would end up giving his starting spot to Al Jefferson, but Zeller ended up ranking eighth on the team in terms of minutes played with only 120 minutes logged. In comparison, rookie Frank Kaminsky played 190 minutes and Nic Batum (who only played five of the seven games, two of which he came off the bench) played 144 minutes. I understand why they ended up playing more (Kaminsky can play both power forward and center and Batum in Charlotte’s second best player) but the minutes gap still feels a little strange.

 


Western Conference Quarterfinals: (5) Portland Trail Blazers vs (1) Golden State Warriors (Golden State leads 1-0)

Game 1: Golden State 118, Portland 106

  • Noah Vonleh’s Game Log: 0 points (0-0 FG), rebound, 1 minute.

I predicted in my series preview that either Noah Vonleh would take Chris Kaman’s spot in the nine-man rotation or Portland Head Coach Terry Stotts would shorten it to an eight-man rotation. For game one at least, he seems to have chosen the latter.

Yet that doesn’t mean it still can’t happen. The Portland Trail Blazers need to make some kind of adjustment as the Golden State Warriors (even without Stephen Curry) were the better team by a sizeable (both in skill and length) margin.

Vonleh could potentially start in the same role he had for most of the season (start both halves and determine playing time from his performance) and thus give Portland a legit power forward instead of playing two small forwards. I admit Coach Stotts could also go with Ed Davis in this situation but the starters do have experience playing with Vonleh which would bring some familiarity.

 

Hoosiers In The NBA: Portland-Golden State Preview

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

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

Regular Season Series: Warriors won 3-1

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

Probable Starting Lineups:

Portland Trail Blazers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Golden State Warriors:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What To Expect:

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

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

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

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

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

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