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An Underrated Aspect of Holiday’s Return

Published: November 23, 2016

Last Friday I wrote about how Jrue Holiday would help improve the Pelicans’ pick and roll game. Well, it’s been a handful of games so let’s look at how that turned out. Note: These stats are through the game against Charlotte.

The table below really says a lot


Holiday has a higher point per play average, eFG%, scoring frequency, turns the ball over less. And this is all with a much higher usage and frequency than Tim Frazier. But there is a bit of an interesting stat this leads to…

Screen setting.

On the season the Pelicans are averaging the 6th fewest Screen Assists (offensive player sets a screen for a teammate that directly leads to a made field goal by that teammate) per game at 7.6. This is because Frazier is not a great pick and roll point guard. Frazier isn’t a threat from behind the arc which allows opponents to go underneath the screen. If Frazier wanted to drive defenders had already cut off his path to the rim—one of the reasons he turns it over a lot. And since he wasn’t scoring the Pelicans didn’t get credit for a screen assist.

But with Holiday being a strong three-point shooter, defenders must fight through the screen and attempt to go over it. That way Holiday won’t have space to shoot from deep. It’s working out in the Pelicans’ advantage.

In the two games since Holiday has returned (or that I’m counting since this was written Tuesday before the Hawks game) the Pelicans have averaged 14 screen assists. Nearly double the Pelicans season average. As Davis sets a screen, defenders fight through it to keep near Holiday, giving him more room to drive to the basket.

There is an underrated aspect to this on offense. Fighting through those screens is tiring. And as games wear on, the Pelicans would rather face tired defenders than fresh. The Pelicans finishing five played exceptionally well against the Hornets. You better believe some of that was because those defenders had been fighting through more screens all night. It’s a nice little wrinkle added to the Pelicans offense with the return of Holiday.

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