Removing the Keystone

By:
Published: January 8, 2014
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And the wall cracks
And the wall cracks
And the wall cracks
And the walls come crumbling down

– Anthrax, One Man Stands

New Orleans Pelicans News

2013 ended on a high note for the New Orleans Pelicans, then 2014 started less auspiciously. The pattern repeated itself, and the New Orleans Pelicans went 2-2 on the week, bringing their record to 15-17. 5 teams are chasing the 8th seed by a decent margin, and the Pelicans are one of them.

Beyond that, the Pelicans lost Ryan Anderson for an indefinite amount of time to a herniated disc. This is clearly the biggest news of the week, and probably of the season . . . hopefully this is the worst news of the season.

Back to basketball . . .

The Pelicans ended 2013 with their most surprising win of the season (so far), defeating the Trail Blazers 110-108. The Pelicans had the lead or were tied with the Blazers from the second quarter on, but the end was key. The game was tied with 4:46 left to play after Batum made a layup. The Pelicans surged forward, but the Blazers kept pace. With 10 seconds left, Lillard tied the game again at 108 with a 3-point shot. The Pelicans drove down, without calling a timeout, got an iso for Evans, which he drilled with around a second left. Very nice, very tough finish.

2014 started with a 124-112 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. This was almost completely due to the Minnesota bigs, but not in the way you might think. The Pelicans actually won the battle in the paint 62-54, but the Minnesota bigs were 14 of 19 from the line and were individually took and made the most and second-most free throws among all players in a game where the Timberwolves made 12 more free throws than the Pelicans and won by 12.

The game against the Celtics is the one in which Anderson got hurt, but the Pelicans won 95-92. The game was back and forth for a while, but the Pelicans took the lead with 100s left, and Evans extended the lead to 3 58 seconds later. The teams traded free throws, then Sullinger missed a 3, ending the Celtics’ hopes. The Celtics shooting was atrocious, going 7 of 29 from 3, 24 of 60 from 2, with Sullinger and Crawford combining for 5 of 31.

The Pelicans outplayed the Pacers in three quarters, but lost the third quarter 12-30 which led to the 99-82 loss to the Pacers. The Pelicans needed to do three things to win this game, unlikely as it would have been: score more efficiently than the Pacers, keep up the offensive rebounding, and win the turnover battle. They were doing all of these for a while, then it started to slip in the second. Then it went to hell.

The coming week does not get any easier, as it features 4 games in 5 days, including a game against the Heat. The upshot is the Pelicans play their second back-to-back against the 8th seed Mavericks (I hate the Mavericks). Beating them twice will bring other teams closer to 8th seed as well, but it would be a help for those who value making the playoffs.

At present, all remaining games are on FSNO or nationally broadcast. All games are also scheduled to have radio coverage. With the Saints playing in Seattle Saturday afternoon, it’s unclear how the radio will work Saturday, however, in New Orleans. It may appear on 1350 AM, as has been the case when there were conflicts in the past.

Around Bourbon Street Shots

In the NO returned for the new year with look back of the prior 2 weeks.

Trew 2 the Game this week combines bragging about courtside seats with encouraging you to sit courtside yourself.

Gerry V contributed to two pieces this week. In the first, he discusses the big men on this team, including Ajinca. In the second, he weighs in on the use of timeouts, or the lack thereof.

Lastly, Michael looked at some numbers that offer some further evidence that Gordon is the odd-guard-out.

`Voices’ of the People

Gordon’s first half was impressive. So was Ajinca’s. If either could consistently deliver that type of performance they would deserve a max contract. Oh, wait…..

Gordon does seem winded after a small amount of burn. His lack of effort on 50/50 balls was glaring, as was his utter confusion whenever someone puts a body in front of him, He made several turrible passes in that situation. I think he cannot think of more than one thing at a time. If someone alters Option A, there is no Option B in his mind and he can’t create one in real time. His failure to even attempt gathering in a loose ball on the floor at the end of the game warrants benching in my book. Shameful. He acts like the game is happening to him, not something he can impact. The opposite of leadership!

Withey was ineffective out there, but he was one of the few trying. He was shocked when someone actually passed him the ball at 100 mph, and blew it. I still want to see more.

NOEngineer

Our only tuff big is Jason. All others are light in the pants. Stiemsma is so timid that it’s embarrassing. We need a shooting coach to work with Evans on his jump shot, he is always falling a way. I just give up on Aminu. The coaches are doing a piss poor job in getting the other players , except for Evans, in throwing alley-oop passes to Davis. I watch CP3 throw them all night long to Jordan. It just up-sets me to see Aminu and others throw passes to Davis at his waist and lower, near the basket. Bottom line we need to upgrade our assistant coaches.

ktfe

I agree. Why fix something that isn’t broken. I don’t know the exact number but since about the second week of the season Tyreke has around a 22 PER. He’s been fantastic coming off the bench this year with his scoring mentality. The problem with placing him into the starting lineup is that it can sometimes cause a player to press. For example, Anderson’s shot has looked broken since being inserted as a starter. Love Tyreke as the 6th man and I think Monty and Dell do too. If they see him as the 6th when we are contenders, why would they play him as a starter now. Let him grow and become dominant in that role.

Hank_

42 Sense

This was addressed somewhat before, but given that Anderson is out indefinitely, it’s worth bringing up to date with the current data.

I decided to try to see how the scheme may change with Anderson out. He’s played 22 regular season games this season, missed 11. That’s not a huge data set, but it’s what we have. Since Anderson’s main skill is his 3-point shooting, any scheme for the team will be designed to get him shooting 3′s in most games. Therefore, 3PA is what we’ll look at.

Anderson averaged 7.5 3-point attempts per game in his 22 games. During those games, the rest of the team averaged 11.6 3-point attempts. During the 11 games without Anderson . . . 11.7 attempts per game.

That’s right: virtually no difference.

For the skeptics, here is a graph:

The blue bars represent the 3PA total in each game from anyone that is not Ryan Anderson. The red bars represent Anderson’s totals.

The inference is that Anderson’s 3P production will simply vanish. It won’t be poorly replicated by another player. The spacing it would have created will never be formed. His absence will increase the length and frequency of those scoreless runs by the Pelicans.

The above data were gathered when Anderson was out with a relatively minor toe fracture and during the first game since his diagnosis was announced, and that followed a trip to Miami that did not go as planned. With full knowledge that Anderson may miss significant time, the scheme may adjust more than what is depicted above.

6 comments
mateor
mateor

Oh man great stat.

thouse
thouse

Those 3pt numbers are disturbing to say the least. Monty has to put other guys in "shooter" roles if they want to have a credible offense without Anderson. 

What's interesting is that, to my eyes, most of Anderson's 3s come from set plays or simple PnR action- his height and quick release allow him to get off those shots. His 3s don't seem to be a by-product of the offense at large. This could help explain why the Pelicans seem allergic to shooting corner 3s; the offense isn't designed to create them.

There are players here to create a decent drive and kick game. Holiday, Gordon, Morrow, Roberts have all proven to be good to great 3pt shooters. Monty has to put guys in positions to take those shots.

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

Our players turn down 3s whenever someone closes on them or threatens to.  Morrow did it last night to pass to Smith for a long 2.  They need to take the damn shot from 3!    Also, we need to make Morrow, Gordon, Rivers and Holiday run off 3 or 4 screens like a Ray Allen to get open for a 3.  Of course, someone needs to pass it to them when the get open.    This needs to happen at least a couple of times each quarter for each guy.   What I see now is a lot of standing around.   Even Anderson was packing in the paint on offense before he got hurt, not running off screens as much.  


We need to become a 3-point shooting team.  I'd rather lose shooting 3s than stupid long 2s, but with our 3-point percentage we just might win....

shutupmexicano
shutupmexicano

Trade Gordon, when hes not playing Jrue is Elite and its now obvious that they cant play together

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes moderator

I think Anderson's confidence, decisiveness, and quick release create those 3's, yes, which is why they are just "on top" of the offense... 3-point gravy...

Maybe that was why other stuff was installed before to compensate... Can not duplicate the skills...

thouse
thouse

@Jason Calmes Very true. Anderson is just a walking floor spacer and he is so very smart in his off ball movement. He demands attention as soon as he crosses half court.

I do hope to see them try to duplicate the floor spacing that he offers though. It will need to be an orchestrated effort from many players to stay disciplined in occupying spaces to stretch the defense, but it's doable. They just can't continue to drive into a lane packed with 3 or 4 defenders and expect good things to happen.