Hoosiers In The NBA: Oladipo Will Look To Turn His Luck Around With The Pacers

Victor Oladipo has had a very unlucky start to his career.

It started right from draft night in 2013, when the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick. In a parallel universe somewhere, Oladipo would have played with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James in the last three NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. However, more than likely he would have just replaced Bennett in the trade package the Cavaliers sent the Timberwolves in 2014 for Kevin Love.

The Orlando Magic happily picked Oladipo up with the second pick as the best player available. It wasn’t a position of need considering the Magic already had a pretty good shooting guard in Arron Afflalo, who along with Nikola Vucevic were the key pieces the Magic received from the Dwight Howard trade just a year prior. So to compensate, the Magic tried to have them share the backcourt with Oladipo as the point guard, which returned mixed results at best.

As a result, the Magic traded Afflalo to the Nuggets and drafted a point guard to play alongside Oladipo in Elfrid Payton. While this did end up being Oladipo’s most prolific scoring season (17.9ppg), the Magic remained a cellar dweller in the east and management finally gave up on head coach Jacque Vaughn and switched to James Borrego during the final third of the season.

Despite the team slightly improving, the Magic became anxious to start winning now and signed veteran coach Scott Skiles to become Oladipo’s third coach in three years. While Skiles did help unlock some of Oladipo’s defensive potential which had surprisingly been missing the first two seasons, Skiles’ abrasive personality didn’t mix with the team and after recommending several roster moves that caused the team to go backwards, he too was gone.

Oladipo’s fourth coach was to be Frank Vogel, someone who would get the best defensively out of Oladipo and would be a welcome change as a “player’s coach”. Yet fate intervened yet again as the Magic traded Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder in another win-now trade for the services of Serge Ibaka.

While unfortunately Oladipo would no longer be part of Orlando’s building process, this looked like it would work out great. The Thunder were trying to keep Kevin Durant from leaving so they traded for the guy Durant once praised by calling him a young Dwyane Wade. Under his newest coach Billy Donavan, Oladipo would fill in the gap left behind from the disastrous James Harden trade and would form a new big three in OKC with Durant and Russell Westbrook.

That never had a chance to happen as Durant instead signed with the Warriors and motivated Westbrook to become only the second player ever to average a triple-double during an entire season. Westbrook’s MVP season did let Oladipo get his first taste of the playoffs but just like in the regular season, Westbrook’s monopoly of the ball relegated Oladipo to being nothing more than a three-point shooter or an occasional alley-oop parter.

Now in an attempt to keep Westbrook from leaving Oklahoma City, the Thunder have traded for a Durant replacement in Paul George and with limited trade assets were forced to move Oladipo to the Indiana Pacers. There he will play for his fifth coach in five seasons in Nate McMillan (sixth if you count Vogel even though he never played for him) and play for a team that is looking towards the future with star big man Myles Turner leading the way.

Oladipo does deserve some blame for his inconsistent career up to this point (the turnover problems and surprisingly average defense during his first few seasons as well as his still streaky outside shooting), but after looking at all the circumstances he had to go through it’s actually a little bit surprising that Oladipo has been as successful as he’s been to this point in his career with averages of 15.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Here’s to hoping Oladipo finally finds his place in the NBA now that he’s back in the state of Indiana.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Explaining Why Oladipo Was Traded To Oklahoma City

Welcome to offseason coverage of Hoosiers In The NBA! Today I am looking at an NBA Draft trade that has one former Hoosier going from a rebuilding team to one on the cusp of championship greatness. 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:


On a night where neither Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell nor Troy Williams were drafted into the NBA, fans of professional Hoosiers received an even bigger surprise when the Orlando Magic traded Victor Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder in arguably the biggest move of NBA offseason so far. In this article I will go over the details of the trade and why both teams agreed to the deal, what Oladipo’s role will be on the Thunder, and how it may determine one of the biggest plotlines of the NBA offseason.


The complete trade saw the Magic acquire power forward Serge Ibaka in return for the 11th overall pick (which became Domantas Sabonis), Ersan Ilyasova, and most importantly former Indiana Hoosier Victor Oladipo. I’ve seen some people on the internet question why this trade happened so let’s take a look at why both sides agreed to this swap:

Why Orlando Did It: The Magic have been looking to acquire a franchise player for years and management felt that Ibaka was its best bet. While that may seem ridiculous for some, Ibaka was an All-Star for the Thunder as a third-option so there is potential that he could flourish as the number one guy just like James Harden did when he went to Houston. Obviously the chances of that happening are slim but to the Magic it was worth the gamble, especially for a player who fits so perfectly with the current roster. (Even though both Ibaka and Aaron Gordon play power forward, I can see Ibaka moving to center in crunch time since Nikola Vucevic is a below-average defender)

Why Oklahoma City Did It: The Thunder need cap space moving forward, and it seemed that Ibaka wasn’t a good fit nor was very happy in Coach Billy Donovan’s system, finishing what amounted to a very disappointing season. All three players the Thunder received make a lot of sense as Sabonis offers depth behind Steve Adams and Enes Kanter, Ilyasova provides a cheaper alternative to the stretch-four or an easy buyout to help with the salary cap, and Oladipo offers a great defender for the starting lineup that can shoot better than Andre Roberson and makes retaining Dion Waiters less of a priority.

I’d also like to disprove the notion that the Magic “gave up” on Oladipo. You can bet that if Orlando GM Rob Hennigan had the option, he would love to have a starting five anchored by the defense of Ibaka and Oladipo. The fact is that Oladipo was Orlando’s most valuable trade chip and any potential trade for an all-star player would likely include the other team asking for Oladipo in return. The Magic also have plenty of depth at the position to swallow the loss of the former second overall pick as Mario Hezonja should improve and Evan Fournier will likely stay.


While the backcourt of Oladipo and Russell Westbrook sounds very exciting and over-the-top athletic, there will be some growing pains, especially for Oladipo. Used to being the guy in Orlando, Oladipo will quickly need to transition from being the main ball-handler to playing more off the ball. Gone will be the isolation plays and instead Oladipo will have to catch-and-shoot more.

Of course, there’s always the chance that the Thunder implement a rotation where Oladipo is allowed to take control of the offense for stretches of the game just like  Harden did back in 2012. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Oladipo is used in the sixth man role, especially if Waiters isn’t re-signed. One thing we do know is that, at least for this upcoming year, Oladipo will be asked to be more of a three-and-D player than an offensive playmaker like he was in Orlando.


Of course the biggest question this trade brings up is how it will affect Kevin Durant?

While initially it looked like the Thunder were making this deal to help soften the potential blow of Durant moving on from Oklahoma City, this was clearly a move made to entice Durant to return.

Moving Ibaka signaled three things to Durant:

  1. There will be more cap space not only this offseason but also in the future
  2. Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti is not afraid to shake up the roster so as to stay young but also competitive
  3. The team is taking notice of who Durant would like to play with and have brought in a guy in Oladipo that Durant really likes.

It’s no coincidence that the Thunder traded for Oladipo. Durant has always been really high on him, even once stating that the former Hoosier reminded him of a young Dwyane Wade. If Durant really believes that statement, I don’t see how he doesn’t come to the conclusion that Oklahoma City gives him the best chance to win and returns next season.

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

Welcome to offseason coverage of Hoosiers In The NBA! Today I am looking at Victor Oladipo’s Orlando Magic as they search for their fourth coach in three years. Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

 


Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Season stats:

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

What He Accomplished:

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

What Needs Improvement:

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

Conclusion:

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

Season Grade: C

 


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Season stats:

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

What He Accomplished:

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

What Needs Improvement:

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

Conclusion:

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

Season Grade: B+

 


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Season stats:

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

What He Accomplished:

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

What Needs Improvement:

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

Conclusion:

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

Season Grade: D+

 


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Season stats:

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

What He Accomplished:

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

What Needs Improvement:

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

Conclusion:

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

Season Grade: A-

 

Hoosiers In The NBA: Potential Playoff Matchups For Zeller And Vonleh

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


Even though the NBA Playoffs start this weekend, many of the matchups have yet to be determined. With that in mind, this week I will go over every potential playoff matchup for Cody Zeller’s Charlotte Hornets and Noah Vonleh’s Portland Trail Blazers. Later in the week, when the matchups are set, I’ll give my playoff previews and performance predictions, but for now let’s look at which teams they might face in the first round:

 


Cody Zeller’s (And The Charlotte Hornets’) Potential Playoff Matchups:

Even after losing to the Washington Wizards on Sunday, and likely locking the Hornets into the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference, Charlotte still isn’t any closer to finding out its first round opponent. Even if the Hornets no longer have a chance at the third seed, three other teams still do with two games left.

The current third seed and Charlotte’s first round matchup if the playoffs started today would be the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks won the season series 3-1, but Zeller still played fairly well against them averaging 9 points on 48% shooting, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block.

If the Hawks stumble, both the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics still have a shot to grab the third seed. Both could also face Charlotte if the Hornets find a way to move into the fifth seed.

While the Hornets have had success against the Heat, splitting the season series, Zeller has historically struggled against the team from South Beach. This season was a little better with averages of 7 points on 44% shooting and 6.3 rebounds but this is still Zeller’s least preferred matchup.

Charlotte still has one game left against the Celtics and will try to avoid getting swept this season. Contrasting the Heat series, Zeller has found great personal success against Brad Stevens’ squad despite having his team lose. Zeller is averaging 9.5 points on 56.3% shooting, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1 steal against Boston this year. There would also be the added bonus of “Zeller vs Zeller” as his older brother Tyler players for the Celtics.

Noah Vonleh’s (And The Portland Trail Blazers’) Potential Playoff Matchups:

Things are a little more clear for Vonleh as his Trail Blazers will either end up with the fifth seed or the sixth seed.

Currently Portland is the fifth seed which would mean a first round matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers won the season series 3-1 but were one of the few teams Vonleh had some success scoring against, as he averaged 4.3 points on 53.8% shooting.

However, if the Trail Blazers fall to the sixth seed (which would require Memphis beating the Golden State Warriors but humor me please) Portland would face the Oklahoma City Thunder. Vonleh’s squad split the season series with the Thunder, but Vonleh really struggled offensively against OKC as he only averaged 1.5 points on 18.2% shooting.

Oladipo Gets Concussed Again:

In non-playoff related news, Victor Oladipo probably saw his season end this past Friday when he suffered a concussion against the Miami Heat. It was his second concussion of the season, with the first coming in November against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The NBA has a strict concussion protocol that players must pass before playing again, and it becomes even harder to pass when a player sustains multiple concussions in the same season. With only two games left in the Orlando Magic’s season, the odds are the franchise will just shut him down until next year.

While the idea of a player having two concussions in the same season sounds troubling, Oladipo can take some comfort in the fact that teammate Nikola Vucevic has suffered multiple concussions during his tenure with the Magic and is perfectly fine.

 


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Season averages:

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

Recent Game Logs:

Vs Detroit (L 108-104): 16 points (5-13 FG)(5-7 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, block, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

Vs Miami (W 112-109): 13 points (6-12 FG), 4 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

@ Miami (L 118-96): DNP – injury

 


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Season averages:

3.6ppg, 3.9rpg, 0.4apg, 0.34spg, 0.30bpg, 0.6tpg, 1.9fpg, 42.6% FG, 25.6% 3FG, 73.5% FT, 14.9mpg. (77 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Sacramento (W 115-107): 2 points (1-1 FG), 2 rebounds, steal, block, 2 turnovers, 8 minutes.

Vs Oklahoma City (W 120-115): 0 points (0-0 FG), 2 rebounds, 4 minutes.

Vs Minnesota (L 106-105): 2 points (1-1 FG), 3 rebounds, 9 minutes.

 


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Season averages:

8.8ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.0apg, 0.78spg, 0.88bpg, 0.9tpg, 2.8fpg, 52.9% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 75.7% FT, 24.5mpg. (72 games)

Recent Game Logs:

@ Toronto (L 96-90): 9 points (4-6 FG)(1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 personal fouls, 19 minutes.

@ New York (W 111-97): 6 points (3-5 FG), 5 rebounds, assist, steal, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 19 minutes.

Vs Brooklyn (W 113-99): 5 points (1-2 FG)(3-4 FT), 4 rebounds, assist, steal, 5 blocks, turnover, personal foul, 23 minutes.

@ Washington (L 113-98): 6 points (2-3 FG)(2-2 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 3 personal fouls, 17 minutes.

 


Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Season averages:

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

Recent Game Logs:

@ Philadelphia (L 107-93): DNP – injury

@ Boston (L 104-97): DNP – injury

Vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 110-102): DNP – injury

Vs Phoenix (L 121-100): DNP – injury

Hoosiers In The NBA: Oladipo and Zeller Finishing Their Third Season Strong

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:


Just like Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, I too am trying to improve as I near the end of my third season covering Hoosiers In The NBA. So this week I’m trying out a new format where I separate the recap/opinion write-ups from the player stats and game logs. I’ve also rearranged a few other things to try and organize everything better.

Whether you are a returning reader or someone who just happened to stumble onto this article, please give your honest feedback so I can continue to improve this column. Now let’s get to the topics, which include Oladipo and Zeller playing well near the end of the season and Noah Vonleh’s relegation to the bench.

 


Oladipo And Zeller Still Improving Near End Of Their Third NBA Season:

The mentality of a true “professional athlete” (regardless of the sport) is to never stop learning and always continue to improve. While neither Victor Oladipo nor Cody Zeller may become “great” NBA players, both have proven to be “professional” NBA players.

Both still have room to grow but at the same time both have made great strides this season and are playing some of their best ball as the season reaches its final games.

Zeller is about to finally finish an NBA season shooting above 50%. While that is usually expected of a big man, it has been one of his biggest weaknesses as he only made 44.3% of his field goal attempts during his first two seasons. Not only is Zeller shooting a respectable 52.5% this season, but he’s been a red-hot 64.1% these past two weeks. He also just set a new career-high for steals when he grabbed five against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.

Meanwhile Oladipo is filling up every stat in the boxscore on a regular basis. Over the past two weeks, Oladipo is averaging 17.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 3.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks. More importantly, he’s become a more confident shooter. He still needs to hit a little more often (44.6% overall during the last two weeks and 30.4% from deep), but as evidenced from his sick crossover and three-point make against the Indiana Pacers this week, he believes in his shot and knowing his work ethic he’ll get them to fall reliably eventually.

Vonleh Is Back To The Bench:

The season has come full circle for Noah Vonleh as he will end this season just like he started it: coming off the bench.

You can’t really blame the Portland Trail Blazers as they gave Vonleh plenty of chances to prove himself (56 starts over course of the season) and with no huge improvement and the playoffs just about to start, the decision to start Maurice Harkless over Vonleh was the right choice.

Luckily for Vonleh, Head Coach Terry Stotts is still finding ways to get him playing time (one of the reasons he was moved to the starting lineup was to guarantee Vonleh playing time) so Vonleh will still be able to contribute to the Trail Blazers in the playoffs. It’s just that his playing time will greatly differ on a game-by-game basis.

Multiple Former Hoosiers Will Be Playing In The NBA Playoffs:

With the Hornets clinched and the Trail Blazers a win away from clinching, we will have two former Hoosiers playing in the NBA playoffs this year.  While the last time that happened was only two years ago in the 2014 playoffs, the two players were teammates as the former Charlotte Bobcats had Zeller in his first NBA season and D.J. White in his last.

However, the last time two former Hoosiers playing for different teams made the playoffs was back during the 2006 playoffs. A decade ago, an aging Alan Henderson was a reserve big man for the Cleveland Cavaliers on LeBron James’ first playoff team while Jared Jeffries started for the Washington Wizards during the middle of the Gilbert Arenas-Antawn Jamison era.

Jeffries averaged 36 minutes a game during his six playoff games while Henderson played a total of nine minutes in two playoff games. The difference in playoff minutes for Zeller and Vonleh will be huge but not this huge.

 


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Season averages:

16.1ppg, 4.8rpg, 4.0apg, 1.64spg, 0.73bpg, 2.1tpg, 2.4fpg, 43.8% FG, 34.4% 3FG, 83.3% FT, 33.0mpg.

Recent Game Logs:

@ Boston (L 107-96): 25 points (10-17 FG)(4-4 FT), 8 rebounds, assist, 5 steals, block, 5 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

@ Detroit (L 118-102): 14 points (5-18 FG)(3-3 FT), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, block, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 41 minutes.

@ Miami (L 108-97): DNP – injury

Vs Chicago (W 111-89): DNP – injury

Vs Brooklyn (W 139-105): 7 points (3-7 FG), 3 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

@ Indiana (W 114-94): 18 points (7-15 FG)(2-2 FT), 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, block, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ Milwaukee (L 113-110): 18 points (7-17 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, 4 blocks, 5 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 38 minutes.

Vs Memphis (W 119-107): 22 points (9-18 FG)(4-5 FT), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, block, 4 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

 


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Season averages:

3.7ppg, 4.0rpg, 0.4apg, 0.34spg, 0.30bpg, 0.6tpg, 2.0fpg, 42.2% FG, 25.6% 3FG, 73.5% FT, 15.2mpg.

Recent Game Logs:

Vs Dallas (W 109-103): 0 points (0-0 FG), rebound, 3 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Clippers (L 96-94): 4 points (2-2 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 personal fouls, 10 minutes.

Vs Philadelphia (W 108-105): 2 points (1-1 FG), 5 rebounds, turnover, personal foul, 9 minutes.

Vs Sacramento (W 105-93): 5 points (2-4 FG)(1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

Vs Boston (W 116-109): 7 points (3-3 FG), 3 rebounds, steal, block, personal foul, 9 minutes.

Vs Miami (W 110-93): 1 point (0-1 FG)(1-2 FT), 5 rebounds, 11 minutes.

@ Golden State (L 136-111): 2 points (0-0 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 minutes.

 


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Season averages:

9.0ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.0apg, 0.79spg, 0.82bpg, 1.0tpg, 2.9fpg, 52.5% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 75.7% FT, 24.8mpg.

Recent Game Logs:

Vs San Antonio (W 91-88): 6 points (3-6 FG), 14 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, personal foul, 29 minutes.

@ Brooklyn (W 105-100): 8 points (4-5 FG), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, block, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

@ Detroit (L 112-105): 8 points (4-5 FG), 6 rebounds, block, 3 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

@ Milwaukee (W 115-91): 4 points (2-4 FG), 3 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, 3 personal fouls, 20 minutes.

@ Philadelphia (W 100-85): 18 points (7-8 FG)(4-4 FT), 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

Vs Philadelphia (W 100-91): 8 points (3-5 FG)(2-2 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, block, 27 minutes.

@ Cleveland (L 112-103): 8 points (2-6 FG)(4-4 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 5 steals, personal foul, 29 minutes.

 


Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Season averages:

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

Recent Game Logs:

Vs Miami (L 113-99): DNP – injury

@ Indiana (L 92-84): DNP – injury

Vs Toronto (L 115-91): DNP – injury

Vs New York (W 99-91): DNP – injury

@ San Antonio (L 100-92): DNP – injury

Vs Denver (W 101-95): DNP – injury

@ Brooklyn (W 106-87): DNP – injury

Hoosiers In The NBA: Breaking Down Oladipo’s 45-Point Game Vs Cleveland

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 just your average week for the former Hoosiers playing in the NBA. Eric Gordon didn’t play because he’s injured, Noah Vonleh is playing a little better but not well enough to warrant minutes for a playoff-caliber team, Cody Zeller recorded a double-double then got injured but was good enough to start the next game, and Victor Oladipo set a new career-high for points against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Wait a second, what did Oladipo do?

Almost as if trying to inspire his alma mater on the night before they faced the Kentucky Wildcats in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Oladipo played against the NBA’s equivalent of the Wildcats (LeBron James’ Cavs) and although his Orlando Magic lost he did finish with a career-high 45 points against the Eastern Conference leaders.

Because this is such a monumental performance, I really wanted to go in-depth on how Oladipo caught fire this past Friday night. So this week’s edition of Hoosiers In The NBA will be all about that one game. I’ll still have the players’ game logs for all who are still interested as well as their season stats. Now let’s break down Oladipo’s best scoring performance of his basketball career:

 


March 18th, 2016: Cleveland 109, Orlando 103

Oladipo’s Boxscore: 45 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

Oladipo’s 45-point game is awesome enough if all you knew was that he scored 45 points in an NBA game. However once you start dissecting all the details, it becomes more and more impressive.

Take the opponent for instance. Scoring 45 points against an abysmal team like the Philadelphia 76ers, who have a record of 9-61, would still be cool but would feel inflated because of the level of completion. Yet in this instance Oladipo went off on the Cavaliers, who have an Eastern Conference best 49-20 record and are one of four teams who have already clinched a playoff spot. Also, it’s not like their best players took the night off as James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love all played and James and Irving played 35+ minutes each.

Now there are a couple of ways to score 45 points. There’s the James Harden-way where you get to the free throw line 20+ times and make 80% of them, then you combine that with a regular 20-point game. There’s the Stephen Curry-way where you make 10 three-pointers and add in some free throws and two-point baskets. Then there’s the “hero ball” way where you take an exuberant amount of field goal attempts (I’m talking about in the high 30s and maybe the 40s) and you make about half of those plus some three-pointers and a couple of free throws.

Yet Oladipo’s path to 45 points doesn’t categorize into any of those. To put it simply, he fits into a different category, one where a player just can’t miss and so they keep shooting. By the time the final buzzer went off, Oladipo had attempted 22 field goals and had made 16 of them (72.7%).

These weren’t all just layups either. Here is a breakdown of all 22 shots attempts:

  • 6 layup attempts, of which he made 5 (83.3%)
  • 9 two-point jump shot attempts, of which he made 5 (55.6%)
  • 7 three-point jump shot attempts, of which he made 6 (85.7%)

The three-pointers really stand out, especially for someone who’s a career 33.8% three-point shooter. The reason he was able to effectively hit from behind the arc was due to his confidence. Oladipo only attempted two deep balls in the first half (he made both), but after going 8 for 11 on field goal attempts before halftime he decided to let it fly and was rewarded by going 3 of 4 in the third quarter. It’s worth noting he made his first five three-pointers before his first miss from deep.

If you’re wondering why the math isn’t adding up, it’s because I haven’t gotten to the free throws. Sometimes being forced to be stationary can throw off a player’s rhythm because most of their baskets have come while they’ve been on the move. Well it didn’t affect Oladipo as he made 7 of his 8 foul shots.

By the end of the game, Oladipo may not have been able to help his Magic  beat the Cavaliers (they did lead a few times during the game thanks to his efforts), but he did join elusive company by becoming the second Magic player ever to score 45 points, grab five rebounds, and make at least five three-pointers in a loss. The other was Magic-great Tracy McGrady.

 


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Vs Denver (W 116-110): 23 points (9-16 FG)(5-6 FT), 4 rebounds, 6 assists, steal, 2 blocks, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

@ Charlotte (L 107-99): 25 points (10-18 FG)(3-4 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 3 blocks, turnover, personal foul, 42 minutes.

Vs Cleveland (L 109-103): See Breakdown Above

@ Toronto (L 105-100): 21 points (9-19 FG)(2-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 42 minutes.

 


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ San Antonio (L 118-110): 8 points (4-7 FG), 4 rebounds, turnover, personal foul, 11 minutes.

@ New Orleans (W 117-112): 6 points (2-2 FG)(1-1 FT), rebound, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 12 minutes.

@ Dallas (L 132-120 OT): 0 points (0-1 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 personal fouls, 14 minutes.

 


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Vs Orlando (W 107-99): 13 points (5-7 FG)(3-4 FT), 13 rebounds, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 29 minutes.

@ Miami (W 109-106): 6 points (3-6 FG), 3 rebounds, personal foul, 14 minutes.

Vs Denver (L 101-93): 10 points (3-6 FG)(4-6 FT), 2 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 personal fouls, 29 minutes.

 


Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Golden State (L 125-107): DNP – injury

@ Sacramento (W 123-108): DNP – injury

Vs Portland (L 117-112): DNP – injury

Vs Los Angeles Clippers (W 109-105): DNP – injury

 


Season averages:

Victor Oladipo: 15.9ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.9apg, 1.47spg, 0.67bpg, 2.1tpg, 2.3fpg, 43.7% FG, 34.8% 3FG, 82.6% FT, 32.7mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 3.7ppg, 4.0rpg, 0.4apg, 0.35spg, 0.28bpg, 0.6tpg, 2.1fpg, 40.7% FG, 23.8% 3FG, 74.4% FT, 15.8mpg.

Cody Zeller: 9.0ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.0apg, 0.74spg, 0.80bpg, 1.0tpg, 3.0fpg, 51.3% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 74.5% FT, 24.7mpg.

Eric Gordon: 15.2ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.7apg, 0.96spg, 0.31bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 41.8% FG, 38.4% 3FG, 88.8% FT, 32.9mpg.