Photo credit - Keith Allison

Pro Hoosiers: How Former IU Players are Performing in the NBA Through Five Weeks

Eight former IU basketball players have or will play the game at the highest level during the 2020-21 NBA season. We will be monitoring their seasons with weekly updates.

Below we summarize their year to date performance with NBA stats and notes through the first five weeks of the season and provide a brief update on each player.

Victor Oladipo – Houston

Photo of Victor Oladipo

In his introductory press conference with the Houston Rockets, Victor Oladipo mentioned his excitement about joining a team that shared his same mindset.

“To be able to join a unit that has the same mentality, the same goal, usually good things happen so I’m looking forward to joining them tomorrow, getting out there and playing the game I love and competing with the same chip that they have,” Oladipo told the media.

In his first game as a member of the Rockets on January 18, Oladipo faced a familiar opponent: the Chicago Bulls. Even though the Rockets lost 125-120, Oladipo showed right away how high his ceiling is when healthy. He finished with 32 points, 5 rebounds, and 9 assists on 13-23 shooting from the field and 4-9 from beyond the arc in 32 minutes of action.

However, he cooled down in his next two games, shooting 7-22 and 4-16 from the field, respectively.

After a 109-103 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, Oladipo is confident that wins will come for the Rockets if they stay the course.

“There’s more than just a defensive potential, there is potential as a whole when we get everyone back healthy and we get everybody clicking and on the same page,” Oladipo told the media. “It’s going to take time, you know, it’s not going to come overnight but we just got to stay positive and optimistic. When we do that I think eventually the ball will get rolling and the wins will come.”

Oladipo proved to be right, as on Friday night the Rockets beat the Detroit Pistons 103-102 and on Saturday defeated the Dallas Mavericks 133-108. Oladipo sat out Saturday’s game due to injury management.

2020-21 YTD Stats:

Games/Games Started – 12/12

MPG – 33.3
Points – 20.6
Rebounds – 5.3
Assists – 4.7
Blocks – 0.3
Steals – 1.8
FG% – .413
3FG% – .348
FT% – .741

Eric Gordon – Houston

In a season where Gordon has been in and out of the lineup due to varying circumstances, that was not the case this past week. Gordon played in all of the Rockets four games.

He scored at least 20 points in each of the four games, and even had 33 points against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.

Gordon knows that stringing together two consecutive wins is good, but that the Rockets still are not where they want to be.

“We are playing better. We’re still not where we want to be but we’re trending in the right way,” Gordon said when speaking with the media following Saturday’s game against Dallas.

As for what the key ingredient is for the Rockets to have success, it all starts on the defensive end of the floor.

“We’ve been playing really good defense that’s been helping us get a chance. As long as we do that, we’ll be better on the offensive end. We still got to get better on that end but defensively the effort is there and we still just got to be smarter but our effort is really picking up on the defensive end,” Gordon said as he met with members of the media following Saturday’s game against Dallas.

2020-21 YTD Stats:

Games/Games Started – 11/5

MPG – 28.5
Points – 17.8
Rebounds – 2.1
Assists – 2.0
Blocks – 0.5 (Ties Career High)
Steals – 0.6
FG% – .462 (Career High)
3FG% – .349
FT% – .805

OG Anunoby – Toronto

Before the season began, Anunoby met with the media and discussed his game. On the offensive side of the ball, while he has taken strides, he felt as though there is more he can offer.

“I definitely think I’m capable of more than I’ve shown. I work really hard at the stuff. I think I’ve especially from what my role has been I think I’m capable of more for sure,” Anunoby told the media on December 22.

Anunoby has continued to take strides in January and this past week was no exception. The Raptors went 3-1 in their four games this past week, and Anunoby is a big reason why.

He averaged 20.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting just under 54 percent from the field and shooting 64 percent from three.

Furthermore, in the Raptors 107-102 win over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, he contributed heavily on both ends of the floor. Anunoby finished the game with 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 steals.

Anunoby credits his recent success offensively to getting in the gym and putting in the necessary work.

“Getting in the gym, working on form close to the basket and then extending out and then just repeating the same shot,” Anunoby told the media following Sunday’s win at Indiana.

Also, with some key players out for the Raptors, Anunoby feels more responsibility on both ends of the floor.

“I definitely feel like I need to step up more, be more aggressive and assertive on offense. Even on defensively, talking more, trying to rebound more, and then just get the ball out so we can run in transition,” Anunoby told the media after Sunday’s game.

The Raptors are now 7-9 overall and 5-1 in their last six games.

2020-21 YTD Stats:

Games/Games Started – 16/16

MPG – 35.3 (Career High)
Points – 14.9 (Career High)
Rebounds – 5.9 (Career High)
Assists – 1.6 (Ties Career High)
Blocks – 0.6
Steals – 2.2 (Career High)
FG% – .485
3FG% – .426 (Career High)
FT% – .745 (Career High)

Thomas Bryant – Washington

Photo of Thomas Bryant

Bryant continues to be sidelined, as he suffered a torn ACL to his left knee during the first quarter of a 128-124 loss to the Miami Heat on January 9  that will keep him out for the remainder of this season.

The injury came at a time when Bryant was starting to play consistent basketball and was averaging career highs in both minutes played and points per game.

However, the focus for Bryant now shifts towards coming back even stronger next year.

2020-21 YTD Stats:

Games/Games Started – 10/10

MPG – 27.1 (Career High)
Points – 14.3 (Career High)
Rebounds – 6.1
Assists – 1.5
Blocks – 0.8
Steals – 0.4
FG% – .648 (Career High)
3FG% – .429 (Career High)
FT% – .667

Cody Zeller – Charlotte

This season did not begin the way Zeller had hoped, as he suffered a fractured left hand in the Hornets season-opening loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, after missing just over a month, Zeller retuned to the court Friday night in the Hornets 123-110 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

In 11 minutes of action off the bench, Zeller had 5 points and 3 rebounds.

He also played in the Hornets 107-104 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday. Zeller contributed 4 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists in 15 minutes.

In an interview with The 3 Point Conversion Radio on January 21, Zeller said he felt really good about getting back on the floor but also realizes that rust may be there at the start.

“I feel really good. I feel fresh, all I’ve been able to do is run and the past couple weeks I’ve been able to shoot so that part of it is not a big deal. I’ll be a little rusty even in the scrimmage yesterday just a step slow or step late. I think the other thing is just my teammates getting used to playing with me again,” Zeller said.

2020-21 YTD Stats:

Games/Games Started – 3/1

MPG – 15.0
Points – 5.0
Rebounds – 4.3
Assists – 1.3
Blocks – 0.7
Steals – 1.0 ( Ties Career High)
FG% – .412
3FG% – .000
FT% – .333

Romeo Langford – Boston

Photo of Romeo Langford

Langford continues to focus on regaining strength and range of motion in his wrist after tearing ligaments during last season’s NBA Playoffs. While the timetable for a return is uncertain, he is unlikely to return during the first half of the regular season.

Juwan Morgan – Utah

This has been an unusual season for Juwan Morgan, who after ending his rookie season with the Utah Jazz by starting two games in the NBA Playoffs, was forced to miss seven consecutive games due to the league’s health and safety protocols.

On January 19, although cleared from health and safety protocols, Morgan missed his eighth consecutive game as he was a healthy scratch for Utah’s 118-102 home win over New Orleans.

Morgan returned to the court on Thursday, playing two minutes in a 129-118 Utah win over New Orleans. Furthermore, in a 127-108 win over Golden State on Saturday, Morgan played a season-high 10 minutes and had 3 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist.

2020-21 YTD Stats:

Games/Games Started – 5/0

MPG – 4.2
Points – 0.6
Rebounds – 0.8
Assists – 0.2
Blocks – 0.0
Steals – 0.0
FG% – .333
3FG% – .333
FT% – N/A (Has Not Attempted)

Yogi Ferrell – Free Agent

Ferrell remains a free agent after signing a 10-day contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, playing two games, and then ultimately being waived.

2020-21 YTD Stats:

Games/Games Started – 2/0

MPG – 20.0
Points – 9.5
Rebounds – 3.5 (Career High)
Assists – 2.5
Blocks – 0.5 (Career High)
Steals – 1.5 (Career High)
FG% – .381
3FG% – .333
FT% – .000

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