The NBA’s regular season is complete and just one of the four Hoosiers currently in the league, Eric Gordon, is on a playoff team. Here’s a look at how Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller, Gordon and Noah Vonleh fared this season:
· Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic Stats (72 games): 17.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.7 steals in 35.7 minutes per game
Notes: Oladipo had an injury setback early in the season, but recovered nicely for a very solid sophomore season in the NBA. His scoring average was up more than four points per game and his shooting percentage was up as well – although there’s plenty of work to do in terms of improving efficiency. In Oladipo and Elfrid Payton, the Magic have one of the more intriguing young backcourts in the league, but more changes are coming for this franchise in the offseason as Jacque Vaughn was let go in-season and the team has yet to hire a permanent replacement.
Quotable: “This is temporary. So that’s motivation in itself. This year — we just need to use it as fuel and fire and go out and work this summer, and this summer needs to be all about winning. We need to come back and have that mentality to do whatever it takes to win.” – Oladipo after Orlando’s final regular season game.
Charlotte Hornets rookie Noah Vonleh, the Big Ten’s freshman of the year last season at Indiana, has been assigned to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League.
Vonleh, the ninth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, has played in just four games this season for Charlotte. He’s averaging 2.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in those contests.
“We believe Noah would benefit greatly from additional game experience,” Rich Cho, the Hornets General Manager, said in a release. “He will be able to get that playing time through this D-League assignment.”
As a freshman at Indiana, Vonleh led the Big Ten in rebounding and his size and wingspan propelled his draft stock into the lottery. But his transition to the NBA got off to a rocky start as he suffered a sports hernia over the summer and missed training camp.
The Hornets, viewed as one of the NBA’s major disappointments this season, are just 10-21 and are four games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Steve Clifford, in his second season as Charlotte’s coach, recently said that the preseason setbacks put Vonleh in catch-up mode to begin his pro career.
Periodically throughout the season, we’ll take a look at how former Indiana players are performing in the NBA. Here’s our December update:
· Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic Stats: 15.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals in 32 minutes per game
Notes: Oladipo is clearly the top former IU player in the NBA right now and after he missed the Magic’s first nine games with a facial fracture, he’s been one of the better second year players in the league. He’s shooting the ball much better than he did as a rookie (47.4 percent vs. 41.9 percent), his turnovers are down slightly and the Magic are just two games out of the playoffs in a depleted Eastern Conference.
Quotable: “It’s just about moving forward and not letting my head hang. Before, last year, I would let my head hang and nothing got better and it kept getting worse and worse. I tried something new last game – I stayed positive, I pushed forward and made plays. I went from slow to fast and took my time.” – Oladipo to NBA.com.
After a one-year stop in Bloomington, Noah Vonleh is set to begin his NBA career as a Charlotte Hornet on Wednesday night against Milwaukee.
Like Cody Zeller, another former IU player drafted by Charlotte, Vonleh enters a unique situation as a rookie selected high in the NBA draft. Most lottery picks are thrown into the mix immediately out of necessity, but Vonleh will be brought along slowly on a team that once again has playoff aspirations.
“I felt very fortunate (to go to Charlotte),” Zeller told Inside the Hall over the summer. “I learned a lot. We have a good group of veteran guys and making it to the playoffs as a rookie was a big opportunity.”
The 6-foot-10 Vonleh will join Zeller in Charlotte’s frontcourt with hopes of helping the franchise get back to the playoffs. His pro career, however, got off to a slow start as he missed time in the preseason following surgery to repair a sports hernia that he suffered over the summer.
He did return recently to appear in one preseason game and scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in 19 minutes.
“He’s got a lot of talent. He’s eager and athletic,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford told The Charlotte Observer after his preseason debut. “There was a lot of good, a lot of bad (in his first game). Noah was the one guy who could not afford to miss September and October.”
While Vonleh is not expected to be in Charlotte’s rotation to begin the season, Hornets owner and chairman Michael Jordan said earlier this week that drafting Vonleh at No. 9 in June’s draft was an opportunity he didn’t believe he would have.