Player Profiles- Rapid Fire

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Published: July 8, 2014
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Free agency is still in limbo as Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James  finalize their free agent decisions, and until dominoes start falling, the Pelicans may not be able to make many moves. While we’re in a holding pattern, I thought it would be a good time to do short reports of some of our players- who they were/have been as Pelicans- as this knowledge is essential to figure out how to best construct our roster moving forward. Our site has already done detailed player reports on everyone and the links to the stories will be embedded as links in the player names.. I just thought it might be nice to do a quick summary in one spot.

 

Anthony Davis

Very good rebounder, excellent finisher in the pick and roll. Decent midrange shooter percentage-wise. Rare mobility for a big. Excellent hands. One of league’s best shot-blockers due to insane length and mobility- blocks shots all over the floor (36 outside of the paint this year, by my count). Excellent defending guards in isolation situations when switched. However, not mobile enough to track SFs or Gs for extended time because he cannot navigate screens as a big man (no surprise, as few bigs can). Creates for himself via face-up from midrange. Almost exclusively drives left. When drives right, usually goes to jump hook. Sometimes dribbles himself into poor position and has some pretty ugly turnovers. One of league’s best bigs at running floor. Superb touch at rim with either hand. Getting better at setting wide screens. Can still get moved for position (see Blake Griffin running floor/sealing for early post position vs him) and sometimes foul prone because of this. Getting better at not falling for pump fakes. Not always in the right places on defense, rarely in the wrong place on offense. Active moving off the ball, energy not subject to whether he’s focal point of offense. Projects to be dominant defender once frame begins to fill out. Has rapidly developed in a short amount of time. Well on his way to becoming a superstar.

Tyreke Evans

Nearly impossible to stop from getting to the rim. Terrible shooter. Lethal when surrounded by teammates who can space, average when surrounded by mediocre players. Needs right supporting cast. Often falls asleep on defense. One man wrecking crew in transition. Draws relatively few fouls per foray to the hoop because doesn’t attack shot-blocker’s body. Conversely, throws his body into smaller defenders to create space. Long strides, graceful driving with ball. Can beat hedges regularly, but bigs tend to sag versus him for obvious reasons (can’t punish from deep). Reactionary player, which leads to some uncomfortable situations and turnovers- can be ugly at times. Very good rebounder for position. Best when he has ball in his hands. Can handle defensive switches due to mobility/strength. Good passer because of the attention he draws- passes don’t always have right velocity/placement, but often work anyway because his drives command so much attention. A very good player if and only if placed in the right system. Must be allowed freedom to make mistakes.

Jrue Holiday

2 way impact player. Cerebral, steady. A level below elite at his position. Underrated shooter from both midrange and 3 point land. Struggles to get to the rim, which is odd considering his physical profile. Also an average finisher at the rim. Drives left far more frequently than drives right. Does not draw free throws. Can effectively take smaller guards into the post. Not a “suffocating” defender, a la Avery Bradley or Patrick Beverley, but pressures at the point of attack and can disrupt offensive flow. More likely to struggle defending an elite athlete (see Eric Bledsoe) at PG than a savvy, skilled PG (see his work on Mike Conley). Helps in a variety of defensive situations, and is big enough to defend positions 1-3 in a pinch. If switched onto a big man, will pull chair or try to intercept post entry. Overall, a very, very good defender. High IQ. Probably shouldn’t be a ball-dominant guard and can be bothered by elite level defense. Leaves feet on passes and gets himself into trouble. Good rebounder. Not much of a transition threat- more likely to pass ball forward to someone else who is a greater transition threat than to do it himself. A third banana on a great team- game is malleable to team needs.

Ryan Anderson

One of best shooters in the game. Volume 3 point shooter whose feet are always set- cannot be given any space. High release point and quick trigger- shot is virtually impossible to block. More well-rounded scorer than given credit for, but ability to create himself will always be limited due to lack of foot speed. Defensive struggles  are slightly overstated (not a sieve), but limited athletic ability prevents him from being an effective help defender at a position where help defense has great value. Overall, below average defender. Scrappy, will fight tooth and nail (see performances vs. ZBo) for position. Poor defensive rebounder, good offensive rebounder. Can get stuck underneath basket with ball, but uses pump fakes and opposite side of glass. Needs to start punishing switches in the post- often settles for jumper. Midrange jumper is also lethal, loves to put right shoulder into defender, step back, drill J. Turnovers are very rare. Draws charges.

Eric Gordon

Not the explosive athlete he once was, but can still penetrate defense. Good catching ball as defense is swinging and changing direction. Good finisher at the rim. Sloppy ball-handler. Good spot up shooter, but release isn’t quick. Solid finding the roller with a pocket pass. Horrid rebounder. Can defend his own man, but help defense is non-existent. Conditioning could probably use work. Gets no favors from the refs anymore- calls he used to get aren’t there now.. free throw rate has dropped significantly. Cannot stress defensive issues enough- whether it be focus or effort issues, Gordon must be compensated for to construct even an average defense.

Austin Rivers

Perhaps the most misunderstood Pelican on a national level. Good defender. Slides very well side to side, which helps cut off penetration from opposing guards. Works particularly hard to deny entry passes into the post. Not a point guard and struggles to run offense by himself. Limited vision. Not a threat in transition. Great first step. Excellent breaking down defense off the dribble, particularly with a crossover.  Struggles to beat hedges or to split on pick/rolls, often just pulling back out and then operating in isolation. In-between game needs lots of work, but showed flashes of a pull up midrange jumper at end of season (unproven at this time). Good shooter in spot-up situations, but not a player who has shown anything coming off screens. Catches and shoots off penetration, not designed plays. Poor pulling up from 3 off the dribble. Takes solid care of the ball. Took a step forward in just about every category as a sophomore.

Al-Farouq Aminu

Elite rebounder at his position. Almost non-existent in a halfcourt offense. Shot is still below average, but improving, and release is still slow. Poor hands, poor recognition. Supreme length/quickness can help be disruptive on defensive end, but recognition leaves a lot to be desired- by no means the “suffocating” defender some outsiders perceive him to be. Improving as a decision maker, but still has a long way to go. Still hasn’t fully realized his potential as a cutter on offense. Falls asleep on defense sometimes. Has ability to block shots coming from the weakside. Will always have spurts that are teasing- a “what if..” kind of player. Flies up and down the floor, and a run/gun system may alleviate concerns about halfcourt offensive woes. Perhaps a few years away from being a very valuable defender/rebounder once the game slows down for him.

Brian Roberts

Point guard by size, shooting guard by skill set. Deadly from midrange, can also pull up from deep.. though had a shooting drop off last season. Quick, and tries on defense, but height/build cause him to be a liability on defense. Not a rebounder, which is hardly surprising. Poor pick/roll execution- never beats hedges, never splits. Ball-stopper- you do not want him running your offense, even on a 2nd unit. Cannot get to the rim or finish when he gets there. Not afraid to take and make big shots. One of league’s best free throw shooters. A shooting specialist and likely a 4th or 5th guard in any decent rotation.

Jason Smith

Hardest worker every time he hits the floor. Mobility and willingness to throw body around make him a very good screener. Mobility also allows him to rotate to right spots defensively. However, lack of lateral agility impedes ability to slide and hedge, and also easy to exploit on switches to guards. Runs floor like he’s running for his life. Elite midrange shooter off pick/pops or spot ups. Not someone you want putting the ball on the floor. Surprisingly effective defending the rim. Underrated leaper, which compensates for his average/below-average length. Has virtually stopped rolling to basket after screens and is almost exclusively a pick/pop big at this point. Does his best to bang in the post, but not a natural post defender- overmatched vs. the bruising types. Poor rebounder. Poor recognition making the extra pass. But a valuable energy guy off bench who has been asked to fill a role he’s not equipped for.

 

You’ll notice a few names are missing from this list.. These are guys who I wanted to focus on. Everyone knows what Morrow brings to the table (shooting), and I really haven’t seen enough of Ajinca/Babbitt/Withey to write detailed reports. Darius Miller has gotten limited playing time in the last few years as well.

 

What is needed

  • Rebounding- this is more or less addressed by Asik, who is a vacuum on the boards. The Pelicans could probably use one more frontcourt guy who can gobble up boards in case of an injury to Asik
  • Wing Depth- the Pelicans wings have been subpar for the last few years. Ideally, the Pelicans could find a guy who can fit next to an Asik/Davis frontcourt AND a Davis/Ryno frontcourt. This player would be able to shoot 3s, defend, and rebound- which is a lot to ask for. PJ Tucker still fits the bill, though it’s fair to question if the Pelicans can create the necessary space. Wilson Chandler is also an example of a player who could fit into this position
  • Defense- Between Asik/Jrue and growth by Davis, should be improved from the previous season.. but the team still needs more good system defenders.

 

2 comments
Kempleton
Kempleton

No more creepy Pierre please! :)

jmbell7
jmbell7

Very nice write up. It's crazy to think back to about 4 years ago when Tyreke was ROY and statistically in the same category as LBJ and MJ (20-5-5), EG was the only NBA player averaging more points than his age (22ish?), and Aminu just reeked of potential and looked to be a monster one day. Reke and EG were practically untouchable on the trade front, save for current superstars (CP3).  Man, how things have changed.