Mining the Numbers: Quincy, Cole and Cunningham

Published: August 18, 2015

Friggin’ Utah.  They are always trying to crap all over our parade.  First, they aren’t Jazzy.  Second, Deron Williams never was, at any point, under any condition, AT ANY TIME, better than Chris Paul.  EVER.  Now, once again, they have to get all uppity and try to one-up us again.  “19-10 in the last 29!!!” Their supporters shout.  “Our team is better than its record was!  We be going to the playoffs because we got a star badass shotblocker!”

Well guess what, Utah?  The Pelicans went 18-11 in the last 29!  And they did it without their star point guard who will return for . . . some number of games this year!  And this time, they will have the full use of the bench mob that made it all possible for an entire season!  And Anthony Davis is to Rudy Gobert as Darth Vader is to Count Dooku.  It’s just embarassing to even compare them.  (And his name is Rudy.  I mean, come on.)  So there!

. . .

Okay, now that I’ve totally exorcised my Utah demons, let’s move on to what the numbers tell us about last years post All-Star break Pelicans, who were missing Jrue, but had added Quincy, Cole and Cunningham to the rotation in relief of Salmons and Rivers. (I tried so hard to come up with a fishy pun there, but failed utterly.  There’s got to be something about damned Rivers and Salmon runs, or something, right?)

The impact of those three guys was, not surprisingly, mostly to the defensive side of the ball.  While the team did improve one spot from the 9th most efficient offense to the 8th most efficient, the real improvement came defensively, where the team improved from 25th to 18th.  That pushed the team from outscoring teams by 0.1 points per game (yes, one tenth of a point per game) to 2.4 – a rate that is normal for a team that wins about 48 games a season.

Primarily they did this by ramping up the pressure on the perimeter, limiting opponents to fewer threes than they were taking earlier in the season, and then only allowing a FG% of 30.2% from behind the arc, second during that timespan only to the . . .wait . . . what? the UTAH JAZZ??? (God DAMNIT! Mother——-s!)

. . .

Ahem.  Anyways there were some other interesting developments during that time span as well.  With Jrue benchbound, the Pelicans actually improved their passing numbers.  They moved from 24th to 8th in the league at assist rating, from 10th to 7th in the league in Assist to turnover ratio, Anthony Davis’ saw his assist rate leap from 9% to 15.8% during that time, and Evans saw similar improvement as both players played larger roles initiating offense.  In perhaps a related matter, the Pelicans eFG% went from 16th to 8th.

Perhaps unsurprisingly – with all that attention to perimeter shooters, the offset to all the good news is that with those three guys, the Pelicans went from a strong rebounding team to a middling one.  Ranked 6th overall (2nd OFF, 12th DEF) the Pelicans fell to 15th during those last 29 games, right behind the . . . damnit, no!  Not the UTAH JAZZ?!?

(Okay, I lied, the Magic were 14th, and the Jazz were . . . 2ND?!?  That is even worse. God damnit!  Friggin’ UTAH!)

. . .

Ok.  That does make me wonder how this team will look under Gentry.  It’s hard to run when your team can’t rebound, but it’s equally hard to run when your team can’t defend.  The answer may be to limit time given to Quincy and Cole at the same time – as their line-ups tended to be disastrous on the boards. Still, however you slice it, Gentry has a roster with at least 10 reasonable options to work with – which is a hell of a lot better than the team Monty was working with to start last year.  And, with those three guys on board, he also can at least put the semblance of an NBA defense on the court at all times – something that was near impossible for the first half of last year.

And, improving from 18th to, say, a respectable 10th-12th also seems a lot more reasonable too.  And that should be all that is necessary to make this team push for homecourt.

Nice to be talking about that, isn’t it?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.