Game On: Pelicans @ Pistons

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Published: January 14, 2015

Tonight, the New Orleans Pelicans continue their Eastern Conference road trip with a stop in Detroit to take on a revitalized Pistons team after the release of Josh Smith. A team that was an abysmal 5-23 before parting ways with Smith, has gone an incredible 9-1 since that point, including wins on the road in Cleveland, San Antonio, Dallas, and Toronto. As such, it would be a major mistake to look at the team’s current 14-24 record and just assume this should be a victory for the Pelicans; the Pistons are top-3 in the NBA in offensive, defensive, and net rating over their past 10 games. To get a more accurate representation of this current Pistons team, let’s take a look at a few of their post-Josh Smith (games after December 21st) ranks among the rest of the NBA, courtesy of the NBA.com stats tool:

Turnover Rate: 3rd (12.4%)
Defensive Rebound Rate: 5th (78.4%)
Points in the Paint per Game: 5th (46.8)
Fast Break Points per Game: 7th (18.1)
3-Point Attempts per Game: 3rd (29.1)
and 3-Point Percentage: 6th (37.8%)

Now, let’s look at how the Pelicans have fared this season stopping each area where the Pistons have excelled recently:

Opponents’ Turnover Rate: 24th (13.1%)
Offensive Rebound Rate: 8th (27.1%)
Opponents’ Points in the Paint per Game: 28th (46.5)
Fast Break Points Allowed per Game: 19th (13.1)
3-Point Attempts Allowed Per Game: 3rd (19.3)
and 3-Point Percentage Allowed: 10th (34.7%)

While this is a fairly simplistic approach of digging into the main challenges that the Pelicans will face tonight, it paints a decent picture. Key takeaways:

  • New Orleans can expect this game to be a low turnover affair, as Detroit has drastically improved its turnover rate of late, and the Pelicans are among the league’s worst at forcing turnovers.
  • The rebounding battle will be key on the road team’s end, as the Pels’ strong offensive rebounding front court will be challenged by the likes of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
  • The Pelicans lead the league in points in the paint per game this season with a per-game average of 47.1, averaging about 1.14 points per field goal attempt from the restricted area. Over the Pistons’ past 10 games, they have nearly matched the Pelicans’ average with 46.8 points in the paint per game, scoring 1.15 points per field goal attempt from the restricted area. Unfortunately, the Pelicans are the third worst team in the league when it comes to points in the paint allowed, giving up 46.5 per contest. How well Asik can change/alter shots at the rim will be of utmost importance tonight.
  • With a more balanced lineup, Detroit has been better at scoring in transition recently, and the Pelicans have been below average in stopping fast break points this season. While turnovers may be its own issue if Jrue can’t play (more on that below), New Orleans has to make sure they work hard to get good shots, or else the Pistons could do the same thing to the Pelicans that the Pacers did to them in Indiana last month.
  • The Pistons’ effectiveness beyond the arc may dictate how this game plays out, as Detroit is in the top 20% of the NBA in both 3-point attempts per game and 3-point percentage over their last 10 games. The Pelicans’ “3-point defense” has been top 10 this season, and that will need to continue tonight.
  • Of course, the ability of Pelicans starting point guard Jrue Holiday to suit up will be another key to this game. Holiday is listed as questionable for tonight with inflammation in his right ankle. We’ll monitor his status and update you when more is known.
  • Update: Holiday is out tonight, and Evans will likely start at point guard.

Enjoy the game! Let’s hope the Pels can get back on track tonight against a suddenly solid Pistons squad.

Pelicans Sign Wolters to 10-Day Contract

Point guard Nate Wolters was recently waived by the Milwaukee Bucks. He was waived to make room for the Bucks to sign Kenyon Martin to a 10-Day contract.

The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that the team has signed unrestricted free agent guard Nate Wolters to a 10-day contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Wolters, 6-4, 190, South Dakota State, was the 38th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards before his rights were dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers, and then the Milwaukee Bucks. Appearing in 69 games with Milwaukee, Wolters holds career averages of 6.4 points, 2.9 assists and 2.4 rebounds.

Wolters will be available for the Pelicans’ game tonight in Detroit. He will wear #4.

New Orleans roster now stands at 14.

Note: The press release was updated to correct Wolters’ jersey number.

Because the Pelicans roster is at 13, they did not have to have anyone on the inactive list to make this signing. This is Wolters’ first 10-Day contract with the Pelicans, and the team can sign him to one more such deal this season. After that, the next deal this season with the Pelicans has to be for the rest of the season.

His production in Milwaukee was down in 2014-2015, but he did not see much action. He has not been much of defender, but he has a little offense, can handle the ball, and he can pass well even if he does not rack up assists. Still, Evans, Gordon, and Jimmer should see more guard duty due to their familiarity with the team.

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