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 players succeed at the next level. This week’s roundup features E’Twaun Moore, Cody Zeller and Jared Sullinger.
E’Twaun Moore (New Orleans Pelicans):
The Pelicans are all in on making the playoffs this season after acquiring DeMarcus Cousins in a trade with the Kings last week. Since Cousins joined the team, they’ve lost three straight, and with the pressure looming, the Pelicans coaching staff is looking for answers. They’ve recently signed Reggie Williams, Hollis Thompson and Jarrett Jack in order to help with outside shooting and guard depth.
The Pelicans are looking far a reliable guard and that man should be E’Twaun Moore. Out of the group of Williams, Thompson, Moore and Jack, Moore is clearly the most dependable and consistent. Williams and Thompson have bounced from team to team and have never really played consistent rotation minutes in their career.
Moore has been in and out of the starting lineup and is averaging 9.7 points per game on 45% shooting from the field and 39% from three this season. The Pelicans desperately need Moore to be at his best from three with Cousins and Anthony Davis clogging up the lane. Without consistent shooting from the outside, defensives are collapsing on Davis and Cousins.
Even with defenses loading up on Davis and Cousins, both players have the ability to make plays off the dribble and in the post. The Pelicans just need to capitalize off of that special ability. And going forward Moore is best suited to take advantage of this new opportunity.
Cody Zeller (Charlotte Hornets):
Zeller has missed 12 of the last 14 games for the Hornets with a sore quad. Zeller’s sore quad has been a major problem considering he suited on Tuesday for the first time in over a month. Luckily for Hornets fans, Frank Kaminsky has provided plenty of production off the bench with Zeller out. The problem with Zeller being out and Kaminsky logging more minutes is that the Hornets defense has taken a hit.
Charlotte is allowing an average of 100.8 points per 100 possessions with Zeller on the court. When Zeller is off the court the Hornets allow 106.9 points per 100 possessions. Not only has the defense struggled, but the team has missed Zeller’s offensive production too.
Prior to injury, Zeller averaged a career-best 10.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game on 58% shooting. Now with Zeller back and hopefully getting off his minute restriction at some point this week, the team will be healthy for the final push for the playoffs.
Jared Sullinger (Free Agent):
Last Thursday during the NBA trade deadline Jared Sullinger was traded by the Toronto Raptors to the Phoenix Suns for P.J. Tucker. Shortly after acquiring Sullinger, Phoenix waived him the following day, making him a free agent.
Sullinger, a five-year veteran who has struggled this season with injuries, he’s only appeared in 11 games for the Raptors. During his time in Boston, Sullinger proved he could be a double-double threat, averaging 10 points and 8 rebounds per game last season.
The risk with signing Sullinger is that his career 27 percent three-point shooting is not charming for contending teams. Especially when Sullinger is primarily known for being a pick and pop player who thrives in the mid-range area. Another concern for teams is that Sullinger struggles on the defensive end. He’s not the most athletic guy in the world and he gets beat off the bounce way too often.
The one team that might want to consider signing Sullinger is the team that let him go last summer, the Boston Celtics. The Celtics are the 29th worst rebounding team in the league. They could use another big body down low. Sullinger also knows the system Brad Stevens runs, so there wouldn’t be much of an adjustment incorporating him in the team. If Boston were to sign him, he’d be an upgrade over Jonas Jerebko.
Check in next week for more Big Ten updates from the professional leagues.