New Orleans Pelicans Player Tracking Data – Sport VU

Published: November 29, 2013

If the rest of you are like me, you’re still in a food coma from yesterday and are in no shape to dive into a deep analytical column. Not to worry; nothing too intense here today. I spent some of my post-meal Thanksgiving evening talking to relatives poking around in the player tracking data gathered from the new Sport VU tool. While all of these numbers obviously need to be taken with the “small sample size” grain of salt, some of the findings are somewhat interesting and thought provoking. For now, I’ll leave it to our fine readers to draw your own assumptions, but any one of these points could become the basis of a longer, more in-depth column if that trend continues.


  • Jrue Holiday is 18th in the NBA with 24.2 points created by assists per 48 minutes. For comparison’s sake, Chris Paul leads the NBA in this category with 36.9, which is over 7 points per 48 minutes higher than second place (Rubio).
  • Holiday leads the Pelicans with 0.6 “hockey assists” per game (the pass leading to the assist), a number that ranks 100th in the NBA. Without any supporting data, this statistic could raise a red flag with the concern that New Orleans is not moving the ball around enough. John Wall and Chris Paul are the only two NBA players who average more than 2 of these per game.
  • Unsurprisingly, Jrue also leads the Pelicans in passes per game with 55.5 (22nd in the NBA). The Pelicans player who ranks second on the team may surprise you – Jason Smith with 36.7 (89th in the NBA). More evidence to support the notion directly above, perhaps?


  • Tyreke Evans’ drives to the basket result in 9.6 points per game, 7th in the NBA. The next Pelican on the list is Jrue Holiday at 27th, with his drives turning into 7.o points per game. The 9.6 points come from 7.9 Evans drives per game, whereas the 7.0 points come from 7.1 Holiday drives, leading to the conclusion that Evans’ drives are also more efficient.
  • As I tweeted last night, Jason Smith receives the 26th most “elbow touches per game” in the NBA with 5.6 that is, touches that originate within the 5 foot radius nearing the edge of the lane and free throw line & inside of the 3-point line. That number is just 0.5 per game behind team leader Anthony Davis, and comparable to players such as Kevin Garnett (5.7/game) & Carmelo Anthony (5.6/game). That may be Jason Smith’s best shot, but in some situations it should possibly be called upon later in the progression of a possession than it is.
  • Among players who have played in at least 5 games and average at least 15 minutes per game, Anthony Morrow ranks 3rd in the NBA with 0.48 points per touch (Klay Thompson leads the NBA at 0.54). In fact, among qualifying players, the Pelicans actually have 4 of the NBA’s top 13 in this statistic – Gordon, Davis, & Anderson come in at 0.41, 0.40, & 0.40 respectively. Again – more ball movement necessary?
  • If you adjust the above statistic to points per halfcourt touch (thereby excluding the touches from steals, blocks, defensive rebounds, those bringing the ball up the court, etc.), the Pelicans have three players in the NBA’s top 12. Anderson is 5th with 0.70, Davis is 7th with 0.67, and Morrow is 12th with 0.60.
  • Jrue Holiday is the only Pelicans player who attempts at least 6 pull-up shots per game, but ranks 8th in the NBA in effective field goal percentage for those shots at 46.9%. Eric Bledsoe has the best pull-up eFG% among those who attempt 6 or more per game at 53.8%, while Derrick Rose has the worst pull-up eFG% at 24.6%.
  • Ryan Anderson attempts 5.6 catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts per game, 3rd highest in the NBA. Among players who attempt at least 3 of these per game, Anderson currently boasts the highest eFG% of those players for that shot type at 78.1%.


  • Anthony Davis is 16th in the NBA in rebound chances per game with 15.5 (the number of times a player is within 3 1/2 feet of a rebound). Of the top 20 in this category, only DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin grab a higher percentage of those rebounds than Davis, who hauls in 68.2% of those opportunities. The next highest ranked Pelicans player in the NBA – Jason Smith – comes in 89th, but he, Anderson, Aminu, and Stiemsma all sit between 8.4 and 8.9 rebound chances per game.
  • Davis records 4.8 contested rebounds per game (rebounds when an opposing player is within 3.5 feet), 4th highest in the NBA. Overall, 45.3% of Anthony Davis’ total rebounds this season have been contested ones; to compare, about 52% of Roy Hibbert’s total rebounds have been of the contested variety, where as only about 31% of Dwight Howard’s rebounds were contested.


  • Out of the NBA’s top 10 in blocked shots this season – Davis is second with 53 – opponents shoot 42.5% at the rim when Davis is in the game, which ranks ahead of all of the others except Roy Hibbert and John Henson. Davis is already 18 blocked shots ahead of third place on that list (Dwight Howard).


  • Out of all Pelicans players who have played at least 5 games and average at least 15 minutes per game, Al-Farouq Aminu ranks 30th in the NBA in distance traveled per 48 minutes at about 3.5 miles, which ranks first on the Pelicans among their qualifying players. Jrue Holiday comes in closely behind Aminu at 38th in the NBA with about the same mileage average. Both maintain an average speed of 4.4 miles per hour while on the court. Not one other Pelicans player falls in the top 100.


Now you know some of the additional information that the Sport VU player tracking tool can give us. Which statistics do you find most interesting? Which ones would you want to know more about? Why do you think these numbers occur the way that they do? Let us hear your thoughts!


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