If you’re as big of a basketball fan as me, sometimes you like to mix your Big Ten viewership with a little bit of NBA action. From NBA veterans to rookies, it’s always fun to see former Big Ten succeed at the next level. For this week’s roundup let’s take a look at how some former Big Ten shooting guards are performing so far this season.
D’Angelo Russell (Los Angles Lakers):
The former Ohio State one-and-done hybrid guard has fit right into the flow of the NBA with his smooth polished offensive game. He’s one of the better young offensive guards in the league today. In just his second season, he’s averaging 15 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists. Along with his impressive stat line, Russell has connected from distance, knocking down 38% of his three’s so far this season.
The thing that makes Russell so intriguing is his ability to play both the point guard and shooting guard position. He can play the role of a distributor with his knack for getting into the lane and finding his teammates. He can also play the role of a traditional shooting guard. He’s a guy that can hit from distance, get to the free throw line and execute in the mid-range game. And showing these particular skills earned him All-Rookie NBA Second Team last season.
The next step for Russell is to become a better defensive player. At Ohio State Russell was someone that lacked the ability to guard one-on-one. Unfortunately for Lakers fans, Russell’s defense is still a work in progress. The team ranks second-to-last in the league in defensive efficiency while giving up an average of 109.8 points per 100 possessions. Russell being the point of defense is at fault for a good portion of the Lakers continued defensive struggles. If the Lakers are going to sneak into the playoffs this season, Russell most do his best to help this young team improve on the defensive end.
Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets):
The Rockets have won their last 9 of 10 games and Eric Gordon has been a key player in Houston’s recent attack on the rest of the league. The former Indiana player is averaging 21 points per game on 50% shooting in his last 10 games. It hasn't just been the last 10 games, Gordon has been steady all season, averaging 17 points per game on 44% from the field and 43% from three.
Those marks are good for second leading scorer on the Rockets and also give him a early run at the Sixth Man of the Year Award. Gordon is ranked second in the NBA in points per game off the bench, trailing only Lou Williams of the Lakers. It’s not surprising to see Gordon thriving in Mike Dantoni’s system. Gordon is encouraged to carry the offensive load when All-Star James Harden rests — and he does that within the pace-and-space system by launching plenty of threes. With Gordon and the rest of the bench supporting Harden’s MVP type performances early on this season, expect Houston to be in the thick of things once the playoffs come along.
Victor Oladipo (Oklahoma City Thunder):
At the time of the Oladipo-Serge Ibaka trade, the NBA media was split on whether this was a good move or not for the Thunder. So far this season it doesn't look like we know who won the trade yet. Oladipo has been up-and-down, averaging 16 points and 4.5 rebounds on the season. His numbers have been solid in wins, averaging 16 points per game on 47% shooting. In losses he hasn't been nearly as efficient, averaging 15 points per game on 41% shooting.
It’s hard to judge how well Oladipo has performed based off boxscores because of Russell Westbrook’s stat stuffing style of play. Oladipo’s blocks, assists, steals and rebounds are slightly down from his days with the Orlando Magic, but his shooting percentages from the field (45%) and from three (38%) are both career highs.