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

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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

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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.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Who Can Help Their Team During The NBA’s March Madness?

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Believe it or not, the NBA has its own form of “March Madness”. Although not as unpredictable and dramatic as the NCAA Tournament, March in the NBA is still a time of the year where many teams’ seasons are decided. It’s a time where teams either start punching their tickets to the playoffs or begin tanking for better lottery chances. While one bad game can knock a great college team out of the tournament, one bad week could knock a competitive NBA team out of the playoff race.

So this week I’m going to go over how each former Hoosiers will need to play over the next few weeks to ensure their team stays in the playoff race. Everyone’s roles and situations are different so some may have to do a lot more than others.

 


Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Dallas (L 121-108): 6 points (3-10 FG), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

Vs Chicago (W 102-89): 17 points (6-12 FG)(5-6 FT), 7 rebounds, assist, steal, block, 3 turnovers, personal foul, 36 minutes.

Vs Phoenix (L 102-84): DNP – injury

@ Golden State (L 119-113): 19 points (8-16 FG)(3-3 FT), 9 rebounds, 8 assists, steal, 4 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

@ Los Angeles Lakers (L 107-98): 26 points (10-17 FG)(4-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, block, 2 turnovers, personal foul, 36 minutes.

@ Sacramento (W 107-100): 18 points (6-14 FG)(5-8 FT), 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, block, 5 turnovers, personal foul, 39 minutes.

@ Portland (L 121-84): 18 points (8-14 FG), rebound, assist, 2 steals, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

 

Despite having gone 2-5 so far in the month of March, the Orlando Magic are still in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but time is definitely running out. No former Hoosier is more responsible for his team’s success than Victor Oladipo. That’s been magnified this last week with the absence of Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic. Oladipo is already asked to do a lot (shutdown defender, secondary ball-handler, secondary scoring threat) but even more responsibilities have been placed on him while the Magic’s playoff hopes are hanging on by a thread.

And those playoff hopes really are dimming fast. Despite being only five games out of the final playoff spot, the three teams ahead of the Magic have either split their last 10 games or have a winning record while the Magic are 3-7 in their last 10. That means that not only are the Magic not getting closer to a playoff spot, but other teams are starting to distance themselves from the Magic. It will truly be “March Madness” if the Magic are able to overcome all of this and make the playoffs and will require Oladipo playing on a level he’s yet to play during his NBA career.

 


Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ Indiana (W 111-102): 5 points (2-5 FG), 2 rebounds, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 18 minutes.

@ Boston (L 116-93): 6 points (3-10 FG)(0-2 FT), 5 rebounds, steal, 3 personal fouls, 20 minutes.

@ Toronto (L 117-115): 3 points (1-1 FG)(1-1 FT), 4 rebounds, assist, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 11 minutes.

@ Detroit (L 123-103): 2 points (1-2 FG), 3 rebounds, assist, 13 minutes.

Vs Washington (W 116-109): 2 points (0-2 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 11 minutes.

@ Golden State (L 128-112): 3 points (1-6 FG)(0-2 FT), 5 rebounds, block, 4 personal fouls, 17 minutes.

Vs Orlando (W 121-84): 4 points (2-7 FG), 5 rebounds, block, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

@ Oklahoma City (L 128-94): 4 points (2-6 FG), 5 rebounds, assist, block, personal foul, 17 minutes.

 

A 9-2 February has neutralized the impact of a 3-5 start to March, but only three games separate the Portland Trail Blazers’ current spot (the sixth seed in the west) from being on the outside looking in. One easy way for the Trail Blazers to hold onto a playoff spot would be if Noah Vonleh finally had his breakout performance, but after months of waiting they shouldn’t hold their breath.

In fact, it really feels like Vonleh’s progress has stagnated ever since the Trail Blazers committed to making the playoffs. I give credit to them for continuing to start Vonleh instead of burying him on the bench like he was in Charlotte, but if I’m being honest I wouldn’t blame the Trail Blazers if they did. Vonleh has shot an ugly 28.6% in March and has only had one game with more than five rebounds since returning from injury (he was averaging 5.6 rebounds for the entire month of January. He was injured at the start of February). If he can at least get back to how he was playing in January it would go a long way.

 


Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Vs Phoenix (W 126-92): 9 points (4-6 FG)(1-1 FT), 7 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, 4 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

@ Philadelphia (W 119-99): 15 points (3-6 FG)(9-10 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

Vs Indiana (W 108-101): 4 points (2-7 FG), 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 27 minutes.

Vs Minnesota (W 108-103): 6 points (2-4 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, block, 3 turnovers, 6 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

Vs New Orleans (W 122-113): 13 points (3-4 FG)(7-9 FT), 8 rebounds, block, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

Vs Detroit (W 118-103): 10 points (3-4 FG)(4-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, personal foul, 24 minutes.

Vs Houston (W 125-109): 7 points (3-4 FG)(1-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 15 minutes.

Vs Dallas (L 107-96): 1 point (0-3 FG)(1-2 FT), 9 rebounds, steal, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 27 minutes.

 

The month of March has been very kind to the Charlotte Hornets. A fringe playoff team when the month began, the Hornets have gone 7-1 and are now closer to the third seed (two games back) than they are to the eighth seed (three and a half games ahead). Cody Zeller has been a big part of this surge as he and Al Jefferson have finally found a rhythm where both are playing effectively despite splitting minutes at center.

Essentially Jefferson has become the offensive center and Zeller has become the defensive center.  While Zeller’s scoring and rebounding are a little down, his assists and blocks have greatly increased. As long as he continues to play like he has over the past few weeks, the Hornets won’t just make the playoffs but might also win their first playoff series since the franchise was revived.

 


Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Houston (L 100-95): 14 points (5-11 FG), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 5 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 32 minutes.

Vs San Antonio (L 94-86): 23 points (9-19 FG)(2-2 FT), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, personal foul, 34 minutes.

Vs Utah (L 106-94): 7 points (3-4 FG), 2 assists, 2 blocks, 11 minutes.

Vs Sacramento (W 115-112): DNP – injury

@ Charlotte (L 122-113): DNP – injury

@ Memphis (L 121-114): DNP – injury

@ Milwaukee (L 103-92): DNP – injury

 

I said last time that the one thing Eric Gordon and the New Orleans Pelicans could not afford was for Gordon to get injured again. Well he re-injured the same finger that kept him out six weeks and now he’s out six more weeks, which is right after the Pelicans season ends. Even if they had Gordon, the Pelicans would still not make the playoffs, as the 10 game gap this team needs to climb with 16 games remaining is incredibly too steep and would require three teams to utterly collapse.

 


Season averages:

Victor Oladipo: 15.1ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.9apg, 1.48spg, 0.57bpg, 2.2tpg, 2.3fpg, 42.3% FG, 33.8% 3FG, 82.4% FT, 32.2mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 3.7ppg, 4.1rpg, 0.4apg, 0.38spg, 0.30bpg, 0.6tpg, 2.1fpg, 40.1% FG, 22.0% 3FG, 73.8% FT, 16.0mpg.

Cody Zeller: 9.0ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.0apg, 0.78spg, 0.74bpg, 1.1tpg, 3.0fpg, 51.0% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 74.8% FT, 24.8mpg.

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.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Goals For The Last Third Of The 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:


Believe it or not, only one of the NBA’s 30 teams (Golden State Warriors) officially know what they will be doing when regular season ends. The other 29 have yet to either punch their ticket to the playoffs or punch their ticket to the draft lottery. Granted, the fates of some teams are forgone conclusions that have yet to become official (such as San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Cleveland in the playoffs and Philadelphia, Phoenix, and the Los Angeles Lakers in the lottery), but the vast majority could realistically go either way. That group includes the four teams that have former Hoosiers on their rosters.

Even though all four could possibly make the playoffs, none of them are championship contenders and thus will look to make changes this offseason. This week I’m going to go over what each Hoosier needs to accomplish between now and the end of the season to assure they will remain a contributor for their current team going into next season.

 

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Washington (L 109-89): DNP – injury

Vs Oklahoma City (W 123-119): DNP – injury

Vs Minnesota (L 112-110): 31 points (9-17 FG)(9-10 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 34 minutes.

Of all four former Hoosiers, this last third of the season directly affects Eric Gordon more than anyone else because he will be a free agent at the end of this season. Despite the fact that he will only be 28 years old, the 2016-2017 season will be his ninth in the NBA and during his career he has missed roughly one-third of those games due to injury (Gordon has missed 202 of 616 possible games as of this weekend). With Gordon’s injury history and the fact that the New Orleans Pelicans will have just completed one of the most injury-plagued seasons a NBA team has had in history, Gordon will have a lot of work to prove he deserves another contract with the Pelicans.

The first thing Gordon can do is stay healthy for the rest of the season. I know that sounds obvious but considering that both players who replaced him at shooting guard ended up suffering major injuries, staying healthy would be a nice change of pace for the team. The other thing Gordon must do is raise his three-point shooting above 40% before the end of the season. Gordon seemingly had made the transition to a three-point specialist last season when he hit a career-high 44.8% from deep. While he has been successful from deep this season (37.8%), it is still a far cry from last year’s success. It raises the question on whether or not last year was a fluke considering it’s the only time in his career he has shot over 40%. If Gordon can at least get his shooting percentage near 40% (>39.5%), it will make him a more valuable free agent (there are very few three-point shooters who can consistently hit above 40% with only 20 currently doing it this season) that would require a multi-year contract from either the Pelicans or any other team that might find interest.

 

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Philadelphia (W 124-115): 22 points (6-12 FG)(9-9 FT), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers, 41 minutes.

Vs Golden State (L 130-114): 14 points (5-16 FG)(2-4 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

@ New York (L 108-95): 16 points (6-14 FG)(2-4 FT), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 35 minutes.

Vs Philadelphia (W 130-116): 28 points (9-17 FG)(8-9 FT), rebound, 3 assists, 4 steals, 3 personal fouls, 44 minutes.

As I pointed out last week, part of the reason the Orlando Magic specifically made those trade deadline moves was to create extra cap space for this upcoming free agent class where the Magic hope to buy a superstar. That means Victor Oladipo only has a month and a half to either prove he can be the superstar the Magic desperately want, or prove to the Magic that he’s essential for the Magic to be championship contenders.

The idea of Oladipo becoming a superstar player was unrealistic to begin with and has only been backed up with Oladipo’s good but not great body of work. That doesn’t mean he can’t still develop into the second-best or the third-best player on a championship team but he needs to prove that’s possible. The first step towards doing that is showing that he’s the best player on this current team, one that management already thinks is devoid of stars. He can also prove his value to the team by just being one of the main reasons the Magic sneak into the playoffs this season.

The reason why it’s so important that Oladipo needs to prove he’s an important piece to the Magic’s championship blueprint is because the Magic will likely have to make additional moves after acquiring their star player which will likely involve trading away one of their younger players. Oladipo’s goal should be to make management not even consider getting rid of him when that move eventually happens.

 

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Vs Brooklyn (W 112-104): 4 points (2-5 FG), 3 rebounds, personal foul, 13 minutes.

Vs Houston (L 119-105): 2 points (1-3 FG), 2 rebounds, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 13 minutes.

@ Chicago (W 103-95): 5 points (2-4 FG)(0-1 FT), 3 rebounds, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 18 minutes.

One of the main reasons the Portland Trail Blazers traded for Noah Vonleh was that management thought the team would be going through a rebuilding phase and thus would have had the time to oversee Vonleh’s development. Yet in the end the Blazers merely reloaded as they now find themselves tied for sixth in the western conference with a month and a half to go.  The reason the team has rebounded so much is because young players like C.J. McCollum and Allen Crabbe have taken huge steps forward this season with McCollum proving to be 20+ scorer and Crabbe proving to be a great sixth man. While Vonleh has also improved from last season, the level of improvement is nowhere near McCollum and Crabbe’s level.

To ask Vonleh to make a jump similar to those two players would be asking too much of a player that is still very raw. However, aside from attempting more three-pointers recently (he’s attempted at least one three-pointer in 13 of his last 15 games, making 33.3% of those attempts), not much has changed since he was inserted into the starting lineup in December. With Portland ready to contend in the playoffs right now, Vonleh needs to show some sign of improvement for Portland to keep him this offseason  instead of trading him away for someone who can help the team in the present.  Even if it’s only 8 points and 7 rebounds a game, he needs to show some form of progress so management knows that it isn’t wasting its time.

 

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

@ Cleveland (L 114-103): 7 points (3-6 FG)(1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

@ Indiana (W 96-95): 14 points (5-5 FG)(4-7 FT), 5 rebounds, block, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 27 minutes.

@ Atlanta (L 87-76): 6 points (1-4 FG)(4-6 FT), 7 rebounds, steal, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

As I have mentioned several times in past articles, the Charlotte Hornets frontcourt is so crowded that the team will need to make some kind of move to free up playing time. The easiest and most likely move would be not re-signing Al Jefferson in the offseason. That would directly benefit Cody Zeller the most as they are currently splitting time at center. While Zeller is the one who gets to start, both guys are still playing around the same amount of minutes. In the five games since he returned from injury, Jefferson has played 22.4 minutes per game while Zeller has played 25.2 minutes per game during that stretch.

However, unlike his fellow former Hoosiers, Zeller’s goal is to not let things change. Sure it would be great for Zeller to play so well that he’s averaging 30 minutes a game, but realistically all he needs to do is prevent Jefferson from playing more minutes than him. That means staying out of foul trouble, playing his usual great defense, and continuing to improve his field goal percentage. Zeller has made a lot of strides towards becoming the Hornets’ franchise center this season and now he just needs to make sure there are no setbacks.

 


Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 15.3ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.7apg, 1.00spg, 0.29bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 41.3% FG, 37.8% 3FG, 88.6% FT, 33.5mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 14.9ppg, 4.8rpg, 4.0apg, 1.46spg, 0.56bpg, 2.1tpg, 2.3fpg, 41.4% FG, 34.1% 3FG, 82.5% FT, 32.1mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 3.8ppg, 4.1rpg, 0.4apg, 0.41spg, 0.29bpg, 0.6tpg, 2.0fpg, 42.4% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 80.0% FT, 16.0mpg.

Cody Zeller: 9.1ppg, 6.1rpg, 0.9apg, 0.80spg, 0.66bpg, 1.0tpg, 2.9fpg, 50.8% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 73.3% FT, 24.9mpg.

Hoosiers In The NBA: How The Trade Deadline Affected Former Hoosiers

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Tons of rumors pop up around the NBA trade deadline with most of them just being hypotheticals that teams make public for the sole purpose of gauging fan reaction. Even though most fans know this, there’s always the slight possibility that there may be truth in those rumors so fans continue to react anyway.

A couple of former Hoosiers found their names connected to multiple trade rumors last week, and while none of them switched teams they did get new teammates because their team ended up trading someone else. This week I’m going to go over how those trades will affect these former Hoosiers for the rest of the season as well as whether or not it was for the best that they didn’t get traded.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Atlanta (W 117-110): 9 points (3-12 FG)(2-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 8 assists, steal, block, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

Vs San Antonio (L 98-96): 14 points (6-14 FG), 3 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, 4 turnovers, personal foul, 40 minutes.

Vs Dallas (W 110-104): 17 points (6-18 FG)(2-2 FT), 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 42 minutes.

Vs Indiana (L 105-102): 17 points (6-17 FG)(5-8 FT), 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 41 minutes.

Trade Deadline Moves: Acquired Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova from the Detroit Pistons while giving up Tobias Harris; Acquired Jared Cunningham from the Cleveland Cavaliers and a 2nd round pick from the Portland Trail Blazers while giving up Channing Frye to the Cavaliers

The Orlando Magic desperately want a franchise player and were hoping to grab one at the trade deadline. To pull that off would mean the Magic would have to part with some of their young talent. Well they did end up trading Tobias Harris but in return Orlando received Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova.

While neither are the franchise player the Magic are looking for, they do play an important role in getting one. Jennings is an expiring contract who will create 8.5 million dollars in cap room for next summer’s free agent market, where multiple franchise players expect to test free agency. Ilyasova makes for a nice veteran role player and is basically a younger Channing Frye. His acquisition made more sense when the Magic later dealt Frye to Cleveland.

Jennings works really well with Victor Oladipo. Because Jennings is a much better shooter than Elfrid Payton, Oladipo isn’t forced to continuously shoot jump shots to create space in the offense. He can also play more of a facilitator role, as shown by his 11 assists in his first two games with Jennings.

Should He Have Been Traded?

Of all the former Hoosiers, it really felt like Oladipo was the most likely to get dealt while simultaneously being the one I least wanted to be traded. While it would have been cool to see him play for a contender (for example, the Los Angeles Clippers after a Blake Griffin trade), Oladipo just fits so well in Orlando both in how the team is structured and in the community. Of course, if a team is willing to part with a franchise player but wants Oladipo in return, I wouldn’t blame the Magic for making that deal. However, that should be the only situation the Magic consider dealing their closest thing to a superstar.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Vs Chicago (W 108-91): 5 points (2-3 FG)(0-2 FT), 8 rebounds, assist, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 6 personal fouls, 20 minutes.

@ Indiana (W 117-95): 11 points (4-7 FG)(3-3 FT), 11 rebounds, 3 assists, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

@ Milwaukee (W 98-95): 23 points (9-12 FG)(5-5 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 31 minutes.

@ Brooklyn (W 104-96): 10 points (4-8 FG)(2-2 FT), rebound, 3 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 22 minutes.

Trade Deadline Moves: Acquired Courtney Lee in a 3-team trade while giving up Brian Roberts to the Miami Heat and P.J. Hairston to the Memphis Grizzlies

There was no doubt that the Charlotte Hornets were going to make a move at the trade deadline and there were talks of that move being Dwight Howard. In any kind of Howard trade, Cody Zeller would more than likely be a part of it since it would be a waste to have both when you can only play one at a time.

Luckily for Zeller, talks with the Houston Rockets went nowhere and so the Hornets went a different direction and traded for Courtney Lee. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist injured again, it opens up a spot in the starting lineup and Lee offers good defense and good shooting. That means more spacing on the floor so big men like Zeller and Al Jefferson can have more room to work with in the post.

Should He Have Been Traded?

The Hornets seemed to have found an identity with Zeller at center, as Jefferson has been coming off the bench ever since his return from injury and may stay in that role because he’d have an easier time scoring against backups. For that reason, I’m glad Zeller wasn’t traded.

On the other hand, there is still a logjam in the front court and you still have the feeling that moving one of those big men would have been a better way to balance the roster instead of trading guards P.J. Hairston and Brian Roberts. I still feel that someone is leaving in the offseason but whether or not its Zeller or someone else remains to be seen.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ Memphis (W 112-106): DNP – injury

Vs Houston (W 116-103): DNP – injury/coach’s decision

Vs Golden State (W 137-105): 9 points (3-6 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 personal fouls, 22 minutes.

Vs Utah (W 115-111): 5 points (2-7 FG)(1-1), 8 rebounds, 3 turnovers, personal foul, 16 minutes.

Trade Deadline Moves: Acquired Anderson Varejao and a conditional 1st round pick in a 3-team trade while giving up a 2nd round pick to the Orlando Magic; acquired Brian Roberts from the Miami Heat in exchange for cash

In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the Portland Trail Blazers have exceeded all expectations as they currently sit at seventh place in the western conference a week after the all-star break. There were a couple of rumors that the Blazers might trade some of their young developing talent (such as Noah Vonleh) but Portland smartly decided to keep its young players. The Blazers remain focused on developing their talent and if they make the playoffs that’s great but if they don’t it won’t be a big deal.

That didn’t mean the Blazers were going to avoid taking part in a couple of midseason trades. Portland helped Cleveland and Orlando complete the Frye trade and all it cost was a second round pick. In return, the Blazers received a conditional first round pick from the Cavaliers. To be more specific, Portland now has Cleveland’s 2018 first round pick unless the Cavaliers are drafting in the top 10 for some reason. Portland also ended up with Anderson Varejao in that trade, but he was immediately waived so he won’t affect Vonleh’s playing time. The Blazers also added Brian Roberts (who the Heat traded away right after getting him) as a veteran backup for Damian Lillard and only gave up some cash.

Should He Have Been Traded?

As I previously wrote, I think it was a smart decision to keep Vonleh, as well as their other younger players. For Vonleh in particular, I don’t think there’s a better situation for him. How many other NBA teams are going to be as patient and helpful as the Blazers have been? Portland is committed to grooming Vonleh into key player for this franchise and I don’t see the team changing its mind anytime soon.

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Minnesota (W 116-102): DNP – injury

Vs Utah (W 100-96): DNP – injury

@ Oklahoma City (L 121-95): DNP – injury

Vs Philadelphia (W 121-114): DNP – injury

@ Detroit (W 111-106): DNP – injury

Trade Deadline Moves: Acquired Jarnell Stokes and cash from the Miami Heat while giving up a future 2nd round pick

With the New Orleans Pelicans quite a few games out of playoff contention, I figured they would either start selling off veterans to acquire younger players and draft picks or that they would try to swing for the fences by grabbing a big-name player in hopes of jumpstarting the team to make a late-season playoff push.

Turns out neither happened as they basically stuck with their team. Stokes, the one player they acquired, was released immediately so they could sign free agent guard Bryce Dejean-Jones because his 10-day contract had ended. Dejean-Jones played fairly well for the Pelicans and is meant to provide depth at the shooting guard position when Eric Gordon comes back.

Should He Have Been Traded?

I really respect Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps for sticking with this group of guys even after the slow start to the season. The truth is that the Pelicans should have traded Gordon only if they were giving up on trying to make the playoffs and were looking ahead to next season. Not only are the playoffs still a possibility (The Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz, and Sacramento Kings are in front of the Pelicans for the eighth spot but none of those three are sure things), but the Pelicans really need Gordon now after losing Tyreke Evans for the season. If Gordon plays well when he returns, he may also earn himself a new contract to stay in New Orleans.


Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 14.9ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.7apg, 0.95spg, 0.29bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 41.0% FG, 37.7% 3FG, 88.5% FT, 33.4mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 14.4ppg, 4.9rpg, 4.1apg, 1.38spg, 0.58bpg, 2.2tpg, 2.3fpg, 41.2% FG, 33.7% 3FG, 82.8% FT, 31.7mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 3.7ppg, 4.2rpg, 0.5apg, 0.44spg, 0.29bpg, 0.6tpg, 2.0fpg, 42.6% FG, 21.4% 3FG, 81.3% FT, 16.1mpg.

Cody Zeller: 9.1ppg, 6.1rpg, 0.9apg, 0.83spg, 0.68bpg, 1.0tpg, 3.0fpg, 50.3% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 74.5% FT, 24.9mpg.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Midseason Lineup Changes

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The NBA regular season can be split up into three sections. The first section goes from opening night until New Year’s and is when teams play with the personnel they assembled during the offseason. The second section goes from New Year’s until the trade deadline and is the period where teams decide to make changes depending on how the team has performed to that point. The final stretch goes from right after the trade deadline until when the playoffs start and at this point teams have decided whether they’re playing for the postseason or for next season.

We’re right in the middle of that second section and quite a few teams have made moves. While they haven’t all been high-profile moves such as trades, lineup changes are just as critical and happen quite often during this time of the season. This week, I’m going to go over how lineup changes have affected former Hoosiers and their teams. I won’t be going over Eric Gordon’s situation as he is still a few weeks from returning and things will likely change again for the New Orleans Pelicans during that time so there’s no need to speculate how the current lineup changes affect Gordon.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Memphis (L 108-102): 5 points (1-10 FG)(3-3 FT), 4 rebounds, 6 assists, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 37 minutes.

@ Milwaukee (L 107-100): 18 points (3-7 FG)(10-11 FT), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, steal, 3 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

@ Boston (L 113-94): 11 points (2-6 FG)(7-9 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 28 minutes.

Vs Boston (W 119-114): 11 points (5-13 FG), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

@ San Antonio (L 107-92): 19 points (6-16 FG)(6-6 FT), 3 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals, 4 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 35 minutes.

@ Oklahoma City (L 117-114): 37 points (13-20 FG)(8-8 FT), 7 rebounds, 4 assists, steal, block, 4 personal fouls, 41 minutes.

Vs Los Angeles Clippers (L 107-93): 18 points (5-12 FG)(7-8 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 4 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

Vs Atlanta (W 96-94): 19 points (9-13 FG), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, block, 3 turnovers, 44 minutes.

The Orlando Magic are the exception when it comes to waiting until midseason to make lineup changes as it feels like they’ve made a lineup change every other week. However, the latest lineup change brings a lot of intrigue and centers around IU’s own Victor Oladipo.

One of the main reasons Oladipo went to the bench in the first place was because there was no spacing between him and Elfrid Payton this season because Oladipo wasn’t a threat from deep. Instead, Evan Fournier and his 39% shooting from behind the arc started at shooting guard. It made sense later in the season that Oladipo returned to the starting lineup when Payton was out with an injury but with the recent lineup change they’re back to playing together again.

The reason for the change of heart is that Oladipo has found his three-point shot again and has been able to create the space needed for this offense to flow. Over the first two months of the season, Oladipo only connected on 26.9% (28 of 104) of his three-pointers. Since the start of January, Oladipo has been a scorching 45.3% (34 of 75) from behind the arc. It took a little while to see if this was an improvement or just a good shooting streak and after 75 attempts I think it’s safe to say it’s improvement.

While Fournier may still be a better shooter, Oladipo offers more versatility both on offense and defense. Fournier is a good enough ball-handler to take over Oladipo’s sixth man role and if he’s shooting lights out during a certain game he can easily transition to playing with the starters as a spot-up shooter. It’s also possible to play Fournier and Oladipo together like they did against the Atlanta Hawks because both can defend shooting guards and small forwards, although Oladipo guards both a little better.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

@ Sacramento (W 129-128): DNP – injury

@ Utah (L 102-73): DNP – injury

@ Portland (L 109-91): DNP – injury

@ Los Angeles Lakers (W 101-82): DNP – injury

Vs Cleveland (W 106-97): 6 points (3-7 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, block, 3 personal fouls, 28 minutes.

Vs Miami (L 98-95): 6 points (2-7 FG)(2-3 FT), 8 rebounds, steal, block, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 25 minutes.

Vs Washington (W 108-104): 8 points (3-6 FG)(2-2 FT), 9 rebounds, assist, 3 steals, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 30 minutes.

A lot of things have been going on with the Charlotte Hornets and they all affect Cody Zeller in one way or another. While Zeller continues to flourish as the Hornets’ starting center, quite a few people have already affected and will continue to affect his production going forward.

The main person affecting Zeller’s production, mostly in the form of playing time, is Frank Kaminsky. The rookie big man has finally gotten past the first-year jitters and is showing a lot of promise. Since the start of December, Kaminsky has been averaging 9.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in 24.5 minutes after averaging only 4.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in 14.6 minutes over the first month of the season. The problem for Zeller is that Kaminsky really eats into Zeller’s minutes when the rookie is having a great game. Part of that is the Hornets trying to get Kaminsky playing experience and the other part is that Zeller has been in foul trouble quite frequently. I still honestly believe that Zeller and Kaminsky can play together in the future with Kaminsky at power forward but with a positional logjam at the power forward position, Kaminsky is a center for the time being.

Speaking of positional logjams, there’s about to be one at center now that Kaminsky is earning playing time and Al Jefferson is only a week or two away from returning to play. Jefferson makes things really complicated as the Hornets really want to keep him because of his post scoring but other than that both Zeller and Kaminsky are actually better options at center. Charlotte may have to make a tough decision at the trade deadline as I don’t think you can keep all three in addition to power forwards Marvin Williams and Spencer Hawes.

That brings us to the last lineup change, which is the return of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. MKG is a welcomed addition for Zeller because he takes some of the defensive pressure off Zeller. Kidd-Gilchrist could also help Zeller commit fewer fouls by at least making sure his man doesn’t drive to the rim. It’s just a shame that not long after MKG came back that Zeller may have to return to the bench if Jefferson is given his starting spot back. For now, let’s enjoy them playing together.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

Vs Sacramento (W 112-97): 10 points (5-7 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 personal fouls, 23 minutes.

Vs Charlotte (W 109-91): 6 points (3-6 FG), 6 rebounds, block, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 19 minutes.

Vs Minnesota (W 96-93): 2 points (1-4 FG), 8 rebounds, block, 16 minutes.

Vs Milwaukee (W 107-95): 0 points (0-1 FG), 3 rebounds, 3 personal fouls, 16 minutes.

Vs Toronto (L 110-103): DNP – injury

@ Houston (W 96-79): DNP – injury

While I said I wouldn’t touch on how the Pelican’s lineup changes affect Gordon because he’s injured, the same can’t be said for Noah Vonleh. While Vonleh has missed the Portland Trail Blazers last two games and will likely miss a third (he’s listed as doubtful for Monday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies with an ankle injury), lineup changes affect him a lot more than Gordon because Vonleh’s starting spot is nowhere near as guaranteed as Gordon’s spot.

Whether or not Vonleh will remain a starter may depend on how replacement Maurice Harkless does during Vonleh’s absence. Harkless didn’t do much during his first game against the Toronto Raptors but he did play very well on Saturday against the Houston Rockets as he produced 14 points and six rebounds.

The good news for Vonleh is that the Trail Blazers are very focused on developing him and he has also played some solid basketball over the past month (5.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in January). However, the longer Vonleh stays out , the more opportunities Harkless has to make a claim for Vonleh’s starting spot.

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Vs Houston (L 112-111): DNP – injury

Vs Sacramento (W 114-105): DNP – injury

Vs Brooklyn (W 105-103): DNP – injury

Vs Memphis (L 110-95): DNP – injury

@ San Antonio (L 110-97): DNP – injury

Vs Los Angeles Lakers (L 99-96): DNP – injury

@ Cleveland (L 99-84): DNP – injury

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 14.9ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.7apg, 0.95spg, 0.29bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 41.0% FG, 37.7% 3FG, 88.5% FT, 33.4mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 14.5ppg, 4.7rpg, 4.0apg, 1.33spg, 0.57bpg, 2.2tpg, 2.3fpg, 41.9% FG, 34.6% 3FG, 84.6% FT, 31.1mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 3.6ppg, 4.1rpg, 0.5apg, 0.46spg, 0.30bpg, 0.6tpg, 2.0fpg, 42.9% FG, 16.0% 3FG, 81.3% FT, 16.0mpg.

Cody Zeller: 8.8ppg, 6.0rpg, 0.9apg, 0.91spg, 0.70bpg, 0.9tpg, 3.0fpg, 48.9% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 73.8% FT, 25.0mpg.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Injured Hoosiers Everywhere

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There’s a saying that things tend to happen in threes. That statement was true this week as not one, not two, but three Hoosiers missed games because of injuries. This week I will give you the details of the injuries suffered by Eric Gordon, Victor Oladipo, and Cody Zeller and how soon it will be before Gordon and Zeller return to the court and how it will affect Oladipo’s play the next few weeks:

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Memphis (L 101-99): 10 points (2-7 FG)(4-4 FT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 37 minutes.

Vs Minnesota (W 114-99): 11 points (4-9 FG), rebound, 3 assists, steal, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 25 minutes.

Vs Detroit (W 115-99): DNP – injury

Vs Milwaukee (W 116-99): DNP – injury

Eric Gordon’s consistent health, playing for a team that has suffered an injury at every other position, almost seemed too good to be true. Now Gordon will be on the sidelines for the next four to six weeks with a fractured ring finger on his shooting hand.

The good news is that it seems the surgery was successful, but the bad news is that this slate of missed games continues a terrible trend for Gordon. Since arriving in New Orleans, Gordon has missed a combined 137 games due to injury, including 21 last season, before this latest injury. Gordon had played in 82 consecutive games for the Pelicans dating back to last year and is the only player this season to have started at least 40 games for the New Orleans Pelicans. This has also come at the worst possible time as his chances of being traded away to a playoff contender have probably vanished. There’s still a small chance a team offers something for Gordon, but a team rarely trades for player at the trade deadline who is not able to play immediately. If that is the case, then it’s a good sign the Pelicans are on a winning streak and still have chance, if this play keeps up, to make the playoffs.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Atlanta (L 98-81): DNP – injury

Vs Philadelphia (L 96-87): DNP – injury

Vs Charlotte (L 120-116 OT): 29 points (11-19 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 4 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 42 minutes.

Victor Oladipo surprised me and quite a few other people when he returned to the court for the Orlando Magic’s game against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday. After all, Oladipo did just suffer a knee injury in the fourth quarter of the Magic’s game against the Toronto Raptors last week when the two teams faced off in London. It was an injury that head coach Scott Skiles thought would take up to three weeks to heal.

Oladipo looked pretty good against the Hornets, scoring 29 points in the Magic’s overtime loss. There was a little worry he might have been pushing himself to play the game but he was healthy enough to play 42 minutes in the contest. It will be interesting to see if soreness in his knee catches up to him as the Magic are set to play five games in the next eight days. If he is in fact healthy and can continue to shoot at a good percentage, that is a good sign because Orlando needs him as the Magic have now lost nine of their last ten games.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ Washington (W 108-98): 2 points (1-3 FG), 9 rebounds, assist, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 17 minutes.

Vs Atlanta (L 104-98): 7 points (3-4 FG), 4 rebounds, block, 2 personal fouls, 15 minutes.

Vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 121-103): 11 points (5-6 FG)( 1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 3 steals, turnover, 5 personal fouls, 25 minutes.

Noah Vonleh was the only one out of the four Hoosiers playing in the NBA to come away from this week perfectly healthy. What’s even more encouraging is that Vonleh is playing very well lately, averaging 4.8 points and 5.2 rebounds in the month of January compared to 3.1 points and 3.6 rebounds over the first two months of the season.

It still looks like we are a ways away from Vonleh making a big breakout but, as long as he avoids injuries and continues to improve with the playing time he is given, that moment should come sooner rather than later.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Vs Utah (W 124-119): 14 points (4-9 FG)(6-8 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, block, turnover, 5 personal fouls, 42 minutes.

@ Oklahoma City (L 109-95): 3 points (0-3 FG)(3-4 FT), 2 rebounds, steal, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 14 minutes.

@ Orlando (W 120-116 OT): DNP – injury

Vs New York (W 97-84): DNP – injury

Cody Zeller was the last of the Hoosiers to get injured this week when he sprained a ligament in his right shoulder during the Charlotte Hornets’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

There was some thought that Zeller would return this week but the team reported during this past weekend that at the minimum he will be out for this upcoming week. This is a big blow for a team that is already without Al Jefferson and has had to start Spencer Hawes at center the past two games. That being said, it might be just as big of a blow for Zeller. While Zeller has probably already proven with his recent play that he is the Hornets’ starting center going forward, he still has a lot of things to work on if he’s going to be a successful NBA center. One of those things is defending against bigger centers and not letting them push Zeller around. With a shoulder injury, you can’t rush back onto the court because that type of injury can take away some of the strength one would need to compete in the post. Hopefully he’s able to recover quickly so he continue improving his post defense against bigger defenders.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 14.9ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.7apg, 0.95spg, 0.29bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 41.0% FG, 37.7% 3FG, 89.0% FT, 33.4mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 13.9ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.9apg, 1.29spg, 0.63bpg, 2.2tpg, 2.3fpg, 41.2% FG, 36.1% 3FG, 81.6% FT, 30.3mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 3.5ppg, 4.0rpg, 0.5apg, 0.50spg, 0.24bpg, 0.6tpg, 2.0fpg, 42.0% FG, 17.4% 3FG, 81.3% FT, 15.8mpg.

Cody Zeller: 9.0ppg, 5.9rpg, 0.9apg, 0.88spg, 0.70bpg, 0.9tpg, 3.0fpg, 49.6% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 73.6% FT, 24.8mpg.