Behind the Numbers: Can the Pels replace Gordon’s and Anderson’s Offense?

Ever since Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon arrived in New Orleans, there has been one unwavering reality about this team:  They are going to field a fine offense – and an abysmal defense. This off-season was obviously and explicitly about solving the issues on the defensive end of the ball.  Moore, Hill and Galloway have had to fight for everything they’ve gotten in the league – and landed their deals through hustle, toughness and defense.  Even if they prove just a little above average – that will improve a terrible, terrible defense.  But the price paid for acquiring these three guys has been letting Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon walk. ($33M a year to sign those two. $26M to sign the Pelican’s trio.)

The question we are left with, however, is whether the Pelicans have broken their offense in order to improve their defense.  How do we quantify the actual decline we will see on that end of the floor when you replace two sharpshooters with a trio of hustle guys? (And Buddy, but I have no way to evaluate him against NBA competition)

Well, you know me.  I turn to numbers.  And due to the NBA revolution in statistics over the last couple years, we have access to a terrific amount of information on individual play types for every player in the league.

You want comparisons?  I have comparisons!

Spot-up Shooting

Spacing.  Stretch fours.  Stretch Centers.  It’s the NBA’s new hotness – and if Gordon and Anderson could do anything, it was stand at the three point line and make a defender at least stay in the vacinity.  If the Pels put Hill at the three and defenders cheat off him, will he make them pay?  If Galloway is playing next to Jrue or Hield as they blitz the rim, will he be able to take advantage of a kick out?  Here’s a table of how each of the three new players performed last year as spot up shooters – as well as what Anderson and Gordon did.  The last column in the table – “Percentile” also shows how they did in reference to the rest of the league.  If a guy has a percentile of 89.7% – that means he was more effective on that type of play than 89.7% of the league.  Other fields you may not be familiar with – Poss is number of possessions across the season, Freq is how often they did this kind of play. (i.e. 0.28 – 28% of their plays were spot up shots).  PPP is points per possession.

[table id=96 /]

It’s a mixed bag here really.  On 126 possessions, Moore was the most efficient spot-up shooter of the bunch.  With the expected shooting touch from Hield, this bodes well for shooting from our SG position.  Galloway and Hill, however, weren’t as good – and landed below average on these kinds of shots.  Of course, the fun part of this is realizing that Spot-Up Ryan Anderson isn’t really all he was cracked up to be.

ISO Ball

Time is ticking down and the Pels need a bucket.  Davis has fouled out.  Jrue is being triple teamed.  Hield is a rookie.  Tyreke hasn’t found his knee yet.  Can Alvin Gentry clear the floor and give the ball to any of these new guys?  Can they get buckets?

[table id=93 /]


Pick and Roll Ballhandler

What about in the pick and roll?  Can you send a screen and get them free so they can bolt to the hole or find an open shooter?

[table id=95 /]

Yikes.  Jrue better stay healthy.  And maybe Frazier should be a priority.  Moore was league average, and Galloway was a bit under.  Hill was awful, but he only handled the ball 13 times in this kind of situation – so it’s kinda hard to get a read on it.  The real surprise is that Gordon and Anderson were pretty solid in PNRs – though from what I saw of the PNRs, they really were “Get a pick, stop behind the pick and shoot a three.”

Off Screens

Last year’s Pelicans ran a large number of off-screen sets, sending Davis, Jrue, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson off screens so they could catch and shoot with space.  It requires the player to be able to move quickly, stop on a dime and shoot quickly.  Can the new guys do this?

[table id=98 /]

Well, in the case of E’Twaun Moore, we have no idea.  Per, he didn’t have at least 10 of these plays.  Langston Galloway had 42 – and we can see why he didn’t get more, with his 31.6% shooting off these sort of sets.  Hill hit a blistering percentage of his shots this way – but he also only took 13.  So . . . the answer is probably not.  Let’s hope Hield can help out – especially since Gentry has said he plans to use him this way.

Hand Off

The little brother of shooting off screens – this is when players run off a screen, but instead of recieving a pass and shooting, the screener has the ball and gives it to the in-motion guy.  How are these guys with a head of steam?

[table id=97 /]

Well – Hill apparently doesn’t get hand-offs.  It’s become more and more apparent the Pacers didn’t trust Hill with the ball in his hands.  Moore, on the other hand, is pretty solid in this situation, while Galloway is just not.


What about when the ball is in Jrue’s hands in a PNR with Davis?  Can any of these guys provide action on the edges, rim running and generally find easy baskets as the defense focuses on the primary threats?

[table id=92 /]

Wow, yes.  This isn’t actually surprising when you think about what these players are.  All three of them are hustlers.  Picking spots and out-working their defender on back-cuts should be a strength.  And it is.  I was honestly surprised Eric Gordon had 10 possessions of this type to chart.


Pace, Pace, Pace.  Defense leads to turnovers leads to easy buckets.  How are our new friends when getting out and running?

[table id=94 /]

Oomph.  That’s disappointing.  Really disappointing.  Especially when you have the reality of how solid Gordon and Anderson were at filling the wing for transition threes staring you in the face.  About the only thing you can look at with a little positivity is the number of transition chances the three new guys got in fairly limited minutes last year.  Transition shots are more efficient than others, as always.

In Closing

Well, it’s not great.  Hill and Galloway are both major concerns, both with the ball in their hands and with the ball possibly hitting their hands.  Hill is the youngest and has the most ability to grow – but he’s also the furthest away from being a real threat.  He is Dante Cunningham – except he has a history of rebounding and passing a bit and being fast and strong enough to guard 2-4 . . . so maybe not that much like Cunningham.  Except offensively.

Moore is competent – and in some situations – very good.  If he can shift more of his shots to the three point line, he will easily replace Gordon.

Galloway is actually surprisingly poor for a lead guard.  Which reflects why he was still on the market and could be had somewhat cheaply.  His defense is going to need to be pretty quick-footed to get him minutes.  Which, for essentially our fifth guard, is what you should expect – and I didn’t post his numbers because he’s anathema to me, but Galloway IS better than Cole in a lot of these categories.  Damn him with faint praise indeed.

So, like we all thought, the offense will take a hit.  Moore may be able to replace Gordon.  Hill can replace Cunningham’s way too many minutes.  Galloway is not replacing Anderson.  Not even close.  Hield probably won’t either.    Before Davis shut it down last season, the team relied on Anderson, Davis and whichever guard was healthy to post an offense ranked between 8-12.  (It fell off a cliff when Davis left)

Without a way to replace Anderson’s production, the team will probably see a dip, putting them closer to 15 than 5.  Which means, in order to get this team back into the playoff discussion, that the defense is going to need to be in the low teens.

Good Luck, Darren Erman.


3 responses to “Behind the Numbers: Can the Pels replace Gordon’s and Anderson’s Offense?”

  1. Thanks, Ryan, this is really useful in conceptualizing the Pelican’s ‘discard 2 players to get 3 players plus free up some cap space’ maneuver this summer.

  2. Now turn that around give the other team the ball. Now measure the effectiveness of the new guys against the defense efforts we got from Eric and Anderson.

  3. Somehow I missed this article which delves into my primary concern with this offseason.  The league average offense is 103.5ppg.  If our defense is as good as last year’s fifth best(Miami) we’ll need an average of 100ppg.  I think there is a real scoring vacuum for us, especially if AD or Jrue go down.  Try looking at our roster and getting to the 100ppg that we would need.  AD is good for 24, Jrue maybe 18, and this is optimistically suggesting that they can still score that well without other scoring threats on the floor.  We need another 66 points with the rest of our roster.  Hill could explode for double his career high and average what, 12?  Moore might average 12 just by the sheer amount of shots there are to take and assuming he hits them consistently.  Hield will probably only average around 10.  Galloway is probably good for another 10.  Now we’re down to QPon, Cunningham, Frazier, Ajinca, Gee, and Asik.  Combined they probably get 12 a game considering most aren’t getting many minutes.  We’re at 98 points without Terrence Jones, who to me, is the linchpin of this team.  If Jones is still the 1.2 pps scorer he once was then he can put us over the top to a winning team again.
    To me, there are too many what if’s that need to go our way.  Jones needs to be back to his pre-injury form, Hill needs to take a step with the increased role, QPon needs to be the old QPon, AD and Jrue need to play nearly every game, Asik and Ajinca need bounceback years (that shouldn’t be too hard), our team defense needs to improve several times over, and Hield needs to be able to be semi-consistent from 3.  If one or more of those things don’t break our way, we’re in for a rough time.

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