Hoosiers In The NBA: Gordon Vs Oladipo (Playoff Preview)

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It took until his fourth season, but Victor Oladipo will finally get his first taste of the NBA Playoffs.

Oladipo and the Oklahoma City Thunder will face the Houston Rockets in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs starting on Sunday. The Rockets have two former Hoosiers on the team in potential Sixth Man Of The Year Eric Gordon (who had to wait even longer than Oladipo to reach his first playoffs, taking him seven seasons) and rookie Troy Williams.

For this edition of Hoosiers In The NBA, I’m going to go over how Oladipo and Gordon performed this season and how they preformed against each other to help predict how well they’ll play in their first round matchup. I’ll also go over how much I expect Williams to play in the series and also touch on Noah Vonleh and his Portland Trail Blazers’ first round matchup with the Golden State Warriors. Lastly I’ll post the final regular season stats for all six former Hoosiers who played in the NBA this season.


Gordon Vs Oladipo

Neither player would call the 2016-2017 their best statistical season, but both Eric Gordon and Victor Oladipo would still call this their best seasons due to how well their teams performed and what role they had in the success.

Gordon embraced his role of three-point specialist off the bench for Mike D’Antoni’s Rockets and the result was a career-high 246 made three-points on 37.2% shooting. Meanwhile Oladipo went from the main ball-handler in Orlando to being Russell Westbrook’s wing man in Oklahoma City and the jump in open looks helped Oladipo shoot a career-best 36.1% from behind the arc as he was the second-leading scorer for the Thunder.

Taking a look at how they played against each other this season only highlights how much both had success from deep this season:

Eric Gordon vs the Oklahoma City Thunder: 19.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.8apg, 0.25spg, 0.25bpg, 1.5tpg, 2.3fpg, 39.7% FG, 40.5% 3FG, 100.0% FT, 34.3mpg. (four games)

Victor Oladipo vs the Houston Rockets: 18.3ppg, 7.0rpg, 3.0apg, 1.25spg, 0.00bpg, 2.3tpg, 2.5fpg, 46.8% FG, 46.7% 3FG, 50.0% FT, 37.3mpg.  (four games)

While I don’t expect both to hit above 40% from long range during this series, I do believe we’ll see multiple clutch threes from one or both. With both Westbrook and James Harden gathering so much attention, it may fall on a supporting player like Gordon or Oladipo to help push their team over the edge and into the next round. Regardless of the result, we’re guaranteed at least one former Hoosier will be playing in the Western Conference Semifinals.


How Much Will  Williams Play?

Troy Williams deserves a lot of praise for what he has accomplished during his rookie season.

As an undrafted rookie he wowed teams during the Summer League while playing for the Phoenix Suns and while the Suns couldn’t keep him due to a logjam at the wing position, the Memphis Grizzlies did sign him to their opening night roster. After 24 games and 13 starts with the Grizzlies, Memphis decided to switch gears when it found itself unexpectedly in the playoff hunt and thus Williams was cut and sent to the NBA D-League where he had a ton of success which included winning the D-League Slam Dunk Contest.

Like Yogi Ferrell, Williams used the momentum of his D-League performance to get a second chance with the NBA, where he has had immediate success with the Houston Rockets averaging 9.7 points on 50% shooting, including 38.1% from three-point range filling in for the injured Sam Dekker. With Dekker still out for at least the first round of the playoffs, does that mean we’ll see Williams play a role in the Houston-Oklahoma City series?

That’s where things get tricky. Teams usually shorten their benches in the playoffs and since Dekker was similar to a ninth man off the bench, it wouldn’t be surprising that Williams, Dekker’s replacement, might not see the floor much when you consider a healthy Dekker would likely see his minutes dwindle. I think Williams will see the court in the first round but I wouldn’t count on him playing every game.


What To Expect Out Of Vonleh And The Trail Blazers Against The Warriors

The Portland Trail Blazers’ last 10 games proved to be a significant step forward for Noah Vonleh.

While the Trail Blazers wrapped up the last playoff spot in the Western Conference by going 7-3, Vonleh finally flashed the potential scouts saw in him when he was considered a lottery pick back in 2014. He averaged 7.6 points on 56.4% shooting and 8.6 rebounds while playing 28.1 minutes per game and recording three double-doubles.

Vonleh hopes that his recent performance carries over into the postseason after failing to score and only grabbing four rebounds in six postseason games last year. Luckily he’ll be playing against a team in the Golden State Warriors that he has had some success against this season:

Noah Vonleh vs the Golden State Warriors: 4.5ppg, 4.5rpg, 0.3apg, 0.75spg, 0.00bpg, 1.3tpg, 0.8fpg, 38.1% FG, 40.0% 3FG, 0.0% FT, 15.0mpg. (four games)

While those numbers may seem a little underwhelming, it’s worth noting that the last time Vonleh faced the Warriors was still before the All-Star Break. In 48 games before the All-Star Break, Vonleh averaged 3.2 points on 40.7% shooting and 4.2 rebounds. In the 26 games after the All-Star Break, Vonleh has averaged 6.7 points on 57.5% shooting and 7.2 rebounds. Needless to say, I expect Vonleh to play much better this time around against the Warriors.


Season Averages:

Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell: Guard, Dallas Mavericks:

10.0ppg, 2.4rpg, 3.7apg, 0.91spg, 0.20bpg, 1.5tpg, 2.0fpg, 40.6% FG, 38.6% 3FG, 83.1% FT, 26.0mpg (46 games)

Eric Gordon: Guard, Houston Rockets:

16.2ppg, 2.7rpg, 2.5apg, 0.64spg, 0.55bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.0fpg, 40.6% FG, 37.2% 3FG, 84.0% FT, 31.0mpg (75 games)

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder:

15.9ppg, 4.3rpg, 2.6apg, 1.16spg, 0.31bpg, 1.8tpg, 2.3fpg, 44.2% FG, 36.1% 3FG, 75.3% FT, 33.2mpg (67 games)

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

4.4ppg, 5.2rpg, 0.4apg, 0.41spg, 0.36bpg, 0.9tpg, 2.1fpg, 48.1% FG, 35.0% 3FG, 63.8% FT, 17.1mpg (74 games)

Troy Williams: Forward, Houston Rockets:

6.2ppg, 2.3rpg, 0.8apg, 0.90spg, 0.33bpg, 1.1tpg, 2.0fpg, 43.7% FG, 29.0% 3FG, 65.6% FT, 18.6mpg (30 games)

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

10.3ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.6apg, 1.00spg, 0.94bpg, 1.0tpg, 3.0fpg, 57.1% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 67.9% FT, 27.8mpg (62 games)

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Hoosiers In The NBA: The Aftereffects Of The Trade Deadline

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While not a single former Indiana Hoosier was moved at the NBA Trade Deadline this season, each team that has a former Hoosier did make at least one trade in preparation for the home stretch of this NBA regular season. So this time on Hoosiers In The NBA, I’ll go over the moves the Dallas Mavericks (Yogi Ferrell), Charlotte Hornets (Cody Zeller), Oklahoma City Thunder (Victor Oladipo), Portland Trail Blazers (Noah Vonleh), and Houston Rockets (Eric Gordon) made and how they affect our former Hoosiers.


Houston Rockets

  • Got Lou Williams from the Los Angeles Lakers for Corey Brewer and an unprotected first Round Pick in 2017
  • Sent K.J. McDaniels to the Brooklyn Nets for cap space
  • Sent Tyler Ennis to the Los Angeles Lakers for Marcelo Huertas

While at first it may sound redundant to add Lou Williams when you already have Eric Gordon, it actually isn’t for a team that plays like the Houston Rockets.

Recently removed from a game where they attempted 58 three-pointers, the Rockets try to put as many shooters on the floor as possible. Williams offers another shooter off the bench and adds insurance in case Gordon or starter Patrick Beverley miss extensive time due to injury.

Williams and Gordon can also play as a backcourt duo and are capable veterans with good enough passing skills to work well off another. Maybe most importantly they could give some much needed rest for James Harden near the end of the regular season.

As for the other two moves, they were in preparation of creating enough cap space if the right buyout candidate becomes available. Even if they don’t sign someone, neither player was playing much if at all for the team.


Charlotte Hornets

  • Got Miles Plumlee from the Milwaukee Bucks for Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes
  • Got Chris Andersen and cash from the Cleveland Cavaliers for a top-55 protected 2017 second round pick
  • Waived Chris Andersen

The importance of Cody Zeller to the Charlotte Hornets was made abundantly clear from the team’s actions during the trade deadline. Despite needing to fix numerous issues if they want to regroup and make the playoffs, the Hornets felt it was most necessary to get insurance for Zeller (who has already missed 20 games this season).

Miles Plumlee may be an unnecessarily expensive contract, but he’s still a very capable backup who poses no threat to taking Zeller’s starting spot away. Unfortunately he only played a couple of games before getting injured and is expected to be out for a week or two so the move has backfired on the Hornets at the moment.

The other move was a simple buyout. Knowing this, the Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to be compensated with a second round pick that won’t go to them unless the Hornets somehow make the Eastern Conference Finals.


Portland Trail Blazers

  • Got Jusuf Nurkic and a top-five protected first round pick in 2017 from the Denver Nuggets for Mason Plumlee, a 2018 second round pick, and cash

This was a very interesting trade as I did not expect the Portland Trail Blazers to part with a player who has been as valuable as Mason Plumlee.

Now what does this mean for Noah Vonleh? Well Jusuf Nurkic uses a lot more post-ups than Plumlee, and that might mean more open shots for Vonleh if Nurkic gets going and starts getting double-teamed. It has been 15 games since Vonleh attempted his last three-pointer and while I don’t expect him to start jacking up deep balls in the near future, this may be a chance to get some confidence from long range.

It will be very important that Vonleh improves playing with Nurkic because the Trail Blazers also received a first round pick in next year’s draft from the Nuggets, giving Portland potentially three of the first 30 picks this summer. It would be crazy to think the Trail Blazers wouldn’t draft someone to challenge Vonleh with one of those picks so Vonleh needs to start improving quickly.


Dallas Mavericks

  • Got Nerlens Noel from the Philadelphia 76ers for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson, and top-18 protected first round pick in 2017
  • Waived Deron Williams

While the most important move the Dallas Mavericks made this past week was trading for Nerlens Noel in hopes of him becoming Tyson Chandler 2.0, the move that affected former Hoosier Yogi Ferrell the most was management’s decision to waive Deron Williams and thus hand over the starting point guard position to Ferrell for at least the rest of the season.

While he already signed a two-year contract with the Mavs earlier in the month, whether that involves him starting or playing backup has yet to be determined. The early returns show a lot of positives for Ferrell becoming the long-term starter. He has averaged 13.2 points, 4.8 assists, and 1.6 steals in his nine starts and the Mavericks sport a 6-3 record in those games. Now that he has been given the chance, Ferrell just needs to keep up his level of play and he’ll remain the staring point guard going into next season.


Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Got Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second round pick from the Chicago Bulls for Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow, and Joffery Lauvergne

This was a huge trade for the Oklahoma City Thunder for multiple reasons. It gives a bench unit that has struggled two players that can score in double figures on any night. It adds depth up front and on the wing, two areas that were a little lacking.

Most importantly it signals that Victor Oladipo is about to have a much bigger role on the Thunder. The departure of Cameron Payne means that Semaj Christon is the backup point guard for those instances when Russell Westbrook needs to rest. While Christon is okay, this might be a chance for Oladipo to play the role of main ball handler again.

The addition of Doug McDermott also may allow Oladipo to move around the court more and get back to some of his slashing playstyle. The Thunder didn’t have a ton of three-point threats to space the floor and thus relied on Oladipo to stay along the perimeter to create that space. While it has led to an improved three-point shot from Oladipo, it has limited him from doing some of the other things he does well like drawing fouls on drives to the bucket or grabbing more rebounds. McDermott can potentially be that spacer that can let Oladipo show off some of his other skills.


Season Averages:

Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell: Guard, Dallas Mavericks:

9.5ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.4apg, 0.82spg, 0.18bpg, 1.6tpg, 1.8fpg, 40.9% FG, 37.2% 3FG, 80.0% FT, 24.6mpg (22 games)

Eric Gordon: Guard, Houston Rockets:

17.2ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.7apg, 0.63spg, 0.52bpg, 1.7tpg, 2.0fpg, 41.4% FG, 38.2% 3FG, 84.4% FT, 30.5mpg (54 games)

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder:

16.1ppg, 4.4rpg, 2.5apg, 1.23spg, 0.33bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.3fpg, 44.6% FG, 35.4% 3FG, 74.1% FT, 33.7mpg (48 games)

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

3.3ppg, 4.2rpg, 0.2apg, 0.32spg, 0.36bpg, 0.8tpg, 1.8fpg, 42.3% FG, 35.0% 3FG, 55.3% FT, 13.4mpg (50 games)

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

10.8ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.4apg, 0.77spg, 1.05bpg, 1.3tpg, 3.2fpg, 58.7% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 69.2% FT, 26.8mpg (39 games)

Hoosiers In The NBA: Oladipo And Zeller Earn Contract Extensions

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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.

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

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

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

 


Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Season stats:

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

What He Accomplished:

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

What Needs Improvement:

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

Conclusion:

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

Season Grade: C

 


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

Season stats:

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

What He Accomplished:

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

What Needs Improvement:

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

Conclusion:

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

Season Grade: B+

 


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Season stats:

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

What He Accomplished:

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

What Needs Improvement:

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

Conclusion:

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

Season Grade: D+

 


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Season stats:

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

What He Accomplished:

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

What Needs Improvement:

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

Conclusion:

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

Season Grade: A-

 

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

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