I’ve spent too much time writing unpleasant things about this team. Really unpleasant things. I decided that this piece, being right before I go on vacation for the Holidays, will instead try to be light-hearted and instead throw out categories and list the Pelicans that do them well!
That’s right, some Pelicans do some things well! And the answer isn’t always Anthony Davis!
So, without further Ado . . .
Best Finishers at the Rim
Candidates: Anthony Davis, Tim Frazier, Terrence Jones, Alexis Ajinca, Omer Asik
There are a couple possible answers here, and none of them are actually Omer Asik. I put him there for funsies. Are you entertained? Field Goal percentage-wise, it’s Alexis Ajinca. He’s hit 72.4 of his shots in the restricted area. Tim Frazier is listed here because he’s been the best finisher at the rim of any guard on the team. (58.2%) Davis gets the highest volume at the rim, taking 50% more shots than anyone else while posting a snazzy 65.7% field goal percentage. Still, the answer I’m going with?
Terrence Jones. Not only does Jones take 4 attempts at the rim per game, finishing them at a damn fine rate of 69.7%, but he is just a tad behind Davis in drawing free throws on those attempts. Not bad at all.
Best Mid-Range Shooter
Candidates: Dante Cunningham, E’Twaun Moore, Anthony Davis, Cheick Diallo
This one isn’t even really close. Dante is shooting 38.1% as a stand still shooter, and Moore is the best am0ngst the guards at 38.0%. These are a little under league average. A little. The real choice is between Cheick, who has managed to take 2.5 mid-range jumpers per game in the few minutes he’s played while blistering the net 53% of the time. I do think that’s pretty flukey though, so I’ll go with the obvious:
Anthony Davis. Davis is one of the league leaders in mid-range jumpers attempted. He’s actually shooting below his career norms, but is still hitting them 42.4% of the time – a really sold number for what is essentially the safety valve shot for an offense.
Corner Three Master
Candidates: E’Twaun Moore, Dante Cunningham, Buddy Hield, Solomon Hill
Generally the most efficient shot in the game, the Pelicans actually do have some respectable shooters from this spot on the floor. Dante Cunningham has ruled it in years past, but this year his numbers, though similar, don’t keep him on top. Moore is close, but has a major gap – he’s shooting 42% from the left corner – but from the right corner, he’s shooting 10%. Wups. You probably laughed at Solomon Hill being on this list, but he’s actually the third best corner shooter at the team, posting a 42% rate from that spot. (Maybe nail him there?) The real answer?
Buddy Hield. Despite weak(though improving) shooting numbers overall, Buddy has been money from this spot, drilling half his corner threes. Promising!
Candidates: Langston Galloway, Solomon Hill, Buddy Hield, Anthony Davis.
I put Davis on this list just to point out that he’s shooting less than 15% of his total shots from three. He’s not three happy. Hill and Hield are both taking more than half their shots from deep – which isn’t much of a surprise either for those of you watching these games. The winner, however, is:
Langston Galloway. Though he was a shooter in college, he was not a heavy-duty gunner in New York. That has changed here in New Orleans as 55% of Galloway’s shots have been from three-point range. It’s not quite up to par with some three-point specialists, who routinely post numbers in the 65-70% range, but it’s still a lot of threes.
Offensive Glass Eater
Candidates: Omer Asik, Anthony Davis, Cheick Diallo, Terrence Jones
This team systematically eschews offensive rebounds, instead opting to get back. If they send anyone to to the offensive glass at all, it’s generally one guy. Only the four guys listed here routinely get the option, however, and surprisingly, one stands out:
Cheick Diallo. The other guys on this list have obviously played a ton more – but their offensive rebound rates aren’t really close to Diallo, who has grabbed about 12% of available offensive boards when he’s on the floor. Overall, that’s a low number, but on this team, in this system, it’s a gem.
Candidates: Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, Jrue Holiday, Tim Frazier
For years, the common complaint has been that Anthony Davis isn’t touching the ball enough. Now, thanks to NBA.com we can tell exactly how many touches each player gets! Typically, this is a stat owned by point guards, who get free touches just because it’s their job to bring the ball up the floor, thus both Frazier and Jrue are on the list. I also put Terrence on here, mostly to point out that outside of the Davis and the PGs, he’s actually getting the highest number of touches per game on the team at 40.5. He is this team’s go-to second team scorer. Still, who gets their mitts on the ball the most?
Anthony Davis. Davis averages 78 touches per game, narrowly edging out both Holiday and Frazier, who average 77 each. It’s a pretty massive number for a non-guard.
Candidates: Anthony Davis, Buddy Hield, Dante Cunningham, Cheick Diallo
NBA.com’s stats tool keeps track of both how far a player has run – and can also average their speed using the minutes played. Davis, mostly due to his minutes, runs by far the furthest every game, covering 2.44 miles. Many have noted, however, that he’s not been exactly a gazelle out there this year. Cunningham and Diallo have been super active too, running the floor whenever they can. Neither of them, however, can compete with the current team speedster:
Buddy Hield. Young legs really, really help. Hield is averaging 4.62 miles per hour while on the court, beating out the closest of his teammates by about .2 miles per hour. When on the offensive end, he flies around the floor, averaging 5.1 mph. Defensively, he’s much less frenetic, averaging only 4.16 miles per hour – though you can’t give him crap for it, because it’s still tied for 1st on the team. Anthony Davis, by the way, is dead last in speed on this team at 3.8 miles per hour. Even Asik moves faster than the overworked Davis.
Happy Holidays, my friends.