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12/29 NBA Roundup: Two Big Ten Starters

Analyzing Draymond Green and Cody Zeller.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

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 NBA Big Ten veterans are performing so far this season.

Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors):

Draymond Green has been doing typical Draymond Green things this season. Those things include: technical fouls, emotional outbursts, playing excellent defense and filling up the stat sheet. The two time defensive player of year is the anchor of the second most efficient defense in the league.

He’s not shabby on offense either, averaging 10 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists per game. That stat line is impressive because Green’s usage rate has gone down slightly with the addition of Kevin Durant. Even with another superstar added to the already stacked Golden State roster, Green is still putting up similar numbers across the board that are comparable to last season.

One thing to note is that Green’s shooting percentages has been down from last season. He’s shooting 41% from the field and 31% from three. His shot attempts have also taken a slight dip, averaging two less shot attempts per game this season. The shooting percentage dip is a bit surprising considering the Warriors brought in Durant, who is another playmaker and a play that creates more space on the floor.

You also have to consider that this team is still figuring out the best way to play together. Just look at their offensive collapse in the 4th quarter against Cleveland on Christmas Day. Continued reps and games equals more comfort and that will benefit Green’s statistical output and shooting efficiency.

Cody Zeller (Charlotte Hornets):

How about Cody Zeller this year! So far Zeller is having his best season of his NBA career. He’s second in player efficiency rating on the Hornets, only trailing Kemba Walker. The former Indiana big man is averaging 11 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block per game. And lately Zeller has been sneaky good. Over his last five games, Zeller averaged 12 points, 7 boards, 1.8 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.2 steals.

Zeller’s stat line comes with efficiency too. He’s shooting 58% from field — a career best. He has also played well on the defensive end. He’s the rim protector for the 7th most efficient defense in the league. Stingy defense has led Zeller and the Hornets to 4th place in the Eastern Conference.

With Zeller in the starting line-up, Walker and Nicolas Batum have a great pick-and-roll/two-man game. Along with the pick-and-roll tandem, the former Indiana Hooiser has also been the most consistent big man for Charlotte. The Hornets greatly value Zeller’s production: Charlotte has a record of 0-3 when Zeller doesn’t play. When Zeller scores under the 10 point mark, Charlotte has a record of 4-5. So you can say Zeller’s overall improvement this season has been very important to Charlotte’s success so far.

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Stay tuned each week for updates on your favorite Big Ten stars in the NBA.