New Orleans Pelicans information, analysis and discussion Sat, 22 Nov 2014 16:50:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 On the Fly v 1.0: Welcome! Sat, 22 Nov 2014 16:27:31 +0000


Welcome to On the Fly, Bourbon Street Shots’ new podcast.  At the site, we are always trying to find new, creative ways to cover the New Orleans Pelicans.. and after a lot of conversations, Jake and I stumbled upon the idea of a new podcast.

The premise of the podcast is simple- we bring in guests from other teams to preview the games.  As you might gather from the podcast title, these clips are meant to be short and sweet. We are aiming at 15 minute segments for each guest/game. Frankly, no one wants to listen to Jake and me ramble on about basketball for an hour anyway.  Or listen to me laughing in the background at inappropriate moments.

There are so many games in the NBA season and there is only so much we can watch outside of the Pelicans games, so we thought it’d be informative to bring on writers from other teams to give us their take on their teams.  Of course, this is a Pelicans site, so we want to steer our conversations to the Pelicans, but we think getting knowledge from writers of other teams will give us some valuable context with which to analyze Pelicans games.  This podcast will evolve over time, but for now, our mission is clear: learn about other teams from an outside perspective.

So without further ado, we’d like to welcome Ben Dowsett of Salt City Hoops (among other sites) to discuss the Jazz game tonight.  Ben was an excellent first guest, so you need to go follow him.  The button to follow is located below.  Do it to it.

Finally, please note that we recorded this podcast on Thursday.  We do not have a set day in mind to record these, but generally, we will likely do these twice a week.  And after we work out some things, it will be on iTunes.

]]> 1
Observations: Pelicans at Nuggets Sat, 22 Nov 2014 05:31:30 +0000 The Pelicans did something new every quarter tonight.  Each quarter, they lost in a slightly different way.  In the first, after racing out to a quick lead, they decided they wanted to turn the ball over more than they ever had.  In the second, the deployed an offense that consisted of pick and rolls that got Ryan Anderson the ball 20 feet or more from the basket, guarded.  Those ended fairly badly.  In the third, they decided that layups would be helpful – for the other team.  And in the fourth?  Other than a couple shots each by Ajinca and Davis, they took nothing from closer than 18 feet.  That’ll help.

Non-Bitter Observations:

  • Jrue Holiday was brilliant defensively for most of the game, anticipating Ty Lawson and hounding him all over the floor.  The one time Lawson beat him on a iso cross-over Jrue calmly trailed and spiked his shot.
  • There was a lot of lucky stupid stuff going Denver’s way – but the Pelicans never really came out and made a run either.  I kept expecting them to try to lock down on defense and make a run, but they never really stopped the Nuggets from getting to the middle of the floor.
  • John Salmons was awful.  He hit his two shots, but his defense was so late and so slow-footed he deserved every moment of his -18 plus-minus.
  • The Nuggets were very good at containing Rivers tonight.  Typically Austin can get separation with his excellent ball handling – but the Nuggets kept fading back and not buying his fakes.  It’s a lot of why the Pelicans couldn’t get good shots with that second unit and kept having Ryan Anderson trying to bail them out with fade-away mid range shots over tight contests.  If Rivers can’t get into the paint, he’s a ball-pounding liability.
  • Danilo Galinari has been awful all season.  Awful.  The Pelicans clearly came into the game thinking they’d let him take shots as a result.  And he buried them.  17 points on 7 shots.  Yikes.
  • The Pelicans seemed to fall down a lot.  It put them in a lot of bad situations defensively against a running Nuggets team.

Lets hope they can bounce back against the feisty Jazz tomorrow night.  This conference is ridiculously hard.  The Jazz and Nuggets are in the bottom five of the conference, and are still 5-7.  Crazy.

]]> 5
Pelicans at Nuggets Open Thread Fri, 21 Nov 2014 23:32:00 +0000 The 6-4 New Orleans Pelicans continue their road trip out West against the Denver Nuggets, who currently sit at 4-7 on the season.  The Nuggets have won their last 2 and hope to capitalize on their momentum after an abysmal start to the season.


1) Ty Lawson had an absolutely dominant stat line last game and is the engine of the Nuggets offense.. can Jrue Holiday and co. limit his penetration?

2) Kenneth Faried is not having the breakout year that many expected after his Team USA performance, but he is still frighteningly quick and certainly not someone you want to give easy opportunities on the O boards.  If Davis is going to play solid help defense, will Faried clean up on the O glass?

3) The Nuggets defense has been horrible so far this season.. how many points can the Pelicans put up?


Chime in below and enjoy the game!

]]> 4
Anthony Davis: Destroyer of the Basketball-Reference Play Index Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:45:33 +0000 The Pelicans are now 10 games into the 82-game NBA season, sitting at 6-4 after splitting a road back-to-back in Portland and Sacramento. The biggest single contributor to New Orleans’ winning record, of course, is the incredible play of Anthony Davis. While trying to measure just how great he has been so far, we can point to lots of raw advanced stats: PER, Win Shares, RAPM (regularized adjusted plus-minus), and VORP (value over replacement player), to name a few. While each statistic is quite useful determining a player’s overall utility, they are also very general in the sense that they don’t measure exactly what that player is doing on the court. Thankfully, we have an incredible resource at our disposal to help us dig deeper – the Play Index search tool on Below are a few queries that most effectively exemplify Davis’ statistical impact, as well as current and historical NBA players that his production most closely resembles (and trumps). Spoiler alert: the results are pretty staggering.

1) 2014-15

A) Offensive Impact

Query: Players in 2014-15 averaging at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, & under 3 turnovers per 100 possessions

Qualifying players: Anthony Davis, Dirk Nowitzki, LaMarcus Aldridge, Ryan Anderson, Al Jefferson

Notes: Starting simple here. Those who have followed Davis know that he easily clears this threshold; AD is currently averaging over 35 points, 15 rebounds, and under 2 turnovers per 100 possessions. LaMarcus comes closest to Davis based on this criteria, but his rebounding in particular falls far short.

B) Defensive Impact

Query: Players in 2014-15 averaging at least  2 steals, 2 blocks, & under 4.5 fouls per 100 possessions

Qualifying Players: Anthony Davis, DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol

Notes: Davis once again finds himself in good company, but in reality, AD is in a category all to himself. Davis is averaging over 3 steals, 5 blocks, and under 3 fouls per 100 possessions, but by simply moving to 2.5+ blocks & < 4 fouls (and keeping 2+ steals), both Jodan & Gasol’s names disappear.

2) Production in the First 10 Games of a Season

Query: Players since 1985 totaling at least 160 points, 80 rebounds, 30 blocks, and 15 steals

Qualifying Players: Anthony Davis (x2), Hakeem Olajuwon (x7), David Robinson (x5)

Notes: Again, we use basic box score stats to evaluate two-way production from big men similar to Davis. While per-game averages of 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 1.5 steals sounds pretty damn versatile, it may not sound THAT elite. Then you look at the players who have done it – only two in the past ~30 years apart from AD.

3) Number of Games in a Season Meeting Specific Criteria

Query: Players since 1985 with at least 5 games in a season with at least 24 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 0-1 turnovers

Qualifying Players: Anthony Davis, Shaquille O’Neal (x4), Hakeem Olajuwon (x3), Amar’e Stoudemire, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson (x2)

Notes: The individual record for number of games in a season with a 24/11/3/0-1 stat line is 7, held by Shaq. Anthony Davis has done it 5 times in his first 10 games, so he is on pace to break O’Neal’s record with roughly 66 games to go.

4) Player Streak Finder

Query: At least 7 games in a row with at least 14 points, 1 block, and 1 steal in past 6 seasons

Qualifying Players: Anthony Davis (x2), LeBron James (x2), Andrew Bogut, Dwight Howard (x2), Josh Smith

Notes: Anthony Davis has accumulated at least 14 points, 1 block, and 1 steal in each of the Pelicans’ first 10 games this season. No player has topped that streak since Kevin Garnett in the 2003-04 NBA season, who reached 13 straight games. Of course, this is an active streak for AD, so he has a chance to stretch it to 11 on Friday night in Denver.

5) The Young Guns

Query: Players below age 25 in NBA history with a PER over 25 & Win Shares per 48 Minutes over .27

Qualifying Players: Anthony Davis*, Chris Paul (x2), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (x2), LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Michael Jordan

Notes: The asterisk is next to AD’s name for an obvious reason – he has only played 10 games. That being said, the names on this list clearly indicate how incredible Davis’ play has been to date, and if AD can even maintain 70% of his PER (36.1) and 80% of his WS/48 (.346) numbers, he’ll still be a member of this elite group at the end of this season.

6) Defensive Discipline, Offensive Efficiency

Query: Players with a true shooting percentage of at least 56%, at least 1 steal per game, and more blocked shots than fouls

Qualifying Players: Anthony Davis, David Robinson (x7), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (x3), Hakeem Olajuwon (x2), Bill Walton

Notes: Above all else, this query should serve as an indicator of how disciplined Anthony Davis has been defensively so far this season. Only 78 qualifying players in NBA history have ever totaled more blocked shots than fouls committed; to do so while both creating turnovers and serving as a source of efficient scoring is a rare skill that makes AD even more special. Oh, and Davis has TWICE as many blocked shots as fouls so far, which is absolutely unprecedented.

7) Putting it All Together

Query: Players in NBA history over 21 points, 11 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, and under 2.75 turnovers per 36 minutes

Qualifying Players: Anthony Davis, Shaquille O’Neal (x3), David Robinson (x2), Tim Duncan (x3)

Notes: This final list combines what are arguably Davis’ most attractive skills and compares them to the NBA players with the most similar skill sets throughout league history. It is difficult to decide what is more impressive – the efficiency with which AD is churning out these numbers, or the incredibly young age at which he has already shown the ability to perform at this level. Regardless, his all-around impact on every game he has played thus far is inescapably clear.


While the lists given above sufficiently depict how unprecedented Anthony Davis’ start to the 2014-15 NBA season has been, there are certainly many more ways to do so with such a unique and special player. As the season wears on, it will be really fun to see if Davis can maintain or improve his place on each of these lists. While it is unlikely that AD continues to play at quite this level, he could certainly come close; if he does, the New Orleans Pelicans could surprise a lot of people this season.

]]> 4
The Perfect Pelicans Pick-and-Roll Wed, 19 Nov 2014 15:46:28 +0000 I like to keep up, as best I can, with everything going on in the NBA. Like most of the writers at BSS, I’m not just a fan of the Pelicans. I’m a fan of the game. One thing I’ve been hearing recently from national commentators is that this Pelicans offense isn’t nearly as good as the numbers might have you believe. To a point, that’s fair. I mean the season is still so young that the Minnesota game greatly affects our stats for the better, and we still haven’t completely figured it out.

Still, when this team is firing on all cylinders (or flying in perfect formation? I’m not good with Bird stuff), they can be something very special. We still make a lot of mistakes, but we are seeing glimpses of what this team could be. Last night at around the 3 minute mark in the 3rd quarter, we saw one of those glimpses. Let’s break down exactly what happened.


Here is the set up. The Pelicans are going to run a basic pick-and-roll. The simplest play in basketball. Eric Gordon is the ball handler, and Davis is the screen man. Now, I know some of you are thinking this can’t be a perfect pick-and-roll, if Gordon is the ball handler! What about Jrue or Tryeke? Well, Gordon manhandled Nik Stauskas last night. It was simply the best matchup, and isn’t that the point of having multiple scoring guards? To find the most favorable match up?


Anyway, Davis sets the screen, and Stauskas is effectively out of the play. Now, here is the trouble for the Kings. Cousins started way back on the screen to protect the rim. Now, he moves over to stop Gordon, which is a fine choice. You should protect the rim at all costs, right? Well, that means Davis is now crashing down the lane, and we have all seen what AD can do with an open lane. He is just begging for the alley oop. So you’ll notice between the first and second photos than Ryno’s man comes down to help on Davis and take away the alley oop. This is the next thing the Kings see.


And if you see that, then you’re probably going to see this.


The play was simple. A pick-and-roll with Davis and Gordon to the opposite side of Anderson on the wing, but look how hard it is to defend. The Pelicans have so many options coming off that one screen. It is next to impossible to NOT give up a good look. Running plays with this type of precision and efficiency should be this teams ceiling on offense. With more chemistry and continuity, this team should be a tough matchup for almost anyone.

]]> 10
Moleskin Moments: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Sacramento Kings 11.18 Wed, 19 Nov 2014 07:01:15 +0000 Monday night’s heartbreaker is the kind of loss that, as a fan, you have nightmares about. The kind of game you overthink about the implications of despite the fact that it’s only November. So coming into Sacramento to play the Kings on the second night of a back-to-back, the Pelicans were hoping to bounce back. Here are my thoughts while watching the game:

• Reminds me of last year without Omer Asik, no anchor to the defense, weak picks.

• After that heartbreaking loss last night, the team looks extremely lethargic.

• Tyreke Evans cannot go scoreless in a half.

• Ryan Anderson is going to need to have sets called for him to get easier shots, with him and Evans struggling on offense, the team becomes stagnant and predictable.

• Alexis Ajinca is super slow, that layup McLemore had on him in the third was extremely blockable.

• Anthony Davis is a monster, stealing the ball from behind Rudy Gay on the fastbreak and then getting the ball back to finish with a dunk.

• The Pelicans were outrebounded 24-12 in the first half. Shot 3-12 from beyond as well, one of those halves where you wonder how the Pelicans are only down nine.

• Evans makes a layup “All the angels sing.”

• Ajinca falls into a charge and accidentally tips in a bucket. French 72 is a beast.

• Evans hitting threes is a great sight.

• Davis not getting the ball for four minutes straight is not acceptable.

• Sequence epitomizes too many for the Pelicans. Davis defends Darren Collison off a switch perfectly. Off the long rebound, Evans brings the ball up, with Davis leading the pack being covered by the under 6 foot Collison. Evans drives and gets a charge called on him, fourth foul, no one on Davis.

• Next possession, Jrue Holiday leads a fast break, passing early for a Davis dunk.

• Evans has such a beautiful crossover, splits two and gets a hockey assist for an Anderson three.

• On Anderson’s fourth made three pointer, Sacramento play-by-play guy goes “I don’t know why they keep leaving him open like that.” Me either, but I’ll take it.

• Holiday nine assists after three quarters.

• Davis out at 10:47 in the third, 80-72 lead. (17 point swing from the half.) “Oh boy,” says my father upon this realization.

• DeMarcus Cousins out too, though.

• Pelicans turnover, fast break, timeout Monty.

• The question of what Monty Williams was hoping the team would accomplish with the lineup of Rivers-Gordon-Babbitt-Anderson-Ajinca is one I haven’t answered at the time of this writing. One of the Davis-Evans-Holiday trio should be in to keep the offense steady.

• Come out of the timeout with the same lineup. Rivers missed runner. On the next possession, Carl Landry rips a rebound away from Ajinca and scores off a putback. Four point game.

• Casspi looking great, against the Pelicans, active. Makes you wonder if the Pelicans couldn’t use him as a wing/stretch-4 a la Luke Babbitt.

• Davis gets 1:30 seconds of game time off.

• For the second night in a row it looks like the Jimmer Fredette experience is being put on hold.

• Davis comes up gimpy, I have stopped breathing.

• And Evans can’t make a layup.

• Did the Kings announcer just say “The Great Casspi” ?

• Eric Gordon looking good against Nik Stauskas.

• Pick and roll starting from the top of the key involving Evans and Davis results in an alley-oop one possession, then an open three for Gordon the next.

• Evans with a clutch runner to stop the bleeding for a second.

• But no one can cover Cousins.

• The Kings’ announcer totally said “The Great Casspi.”

• Another great drive and shot by Evans, is the dagger in this one.

• Pelicans win 106-100 on the strength of an amazing third quarter, where they outscored the Kings 31-15.

• “Williams’ quote, ‘we have to know when the moment arrives,’ after they lost last night, seemed to come into play here. Pelicans answered their deficit with a major run, and they answered every subsequent run by the Kings with a run of their own.

]]> 11
New Orleans Pelicans @ Sacramento Kings: Open Thread Wed, 19 Nov 2014 02:11:18 +0000 The New Orleans Pelicans tip against the Sacramento Kings tonight at 9:00 CT, and the game is in Sacramento. The game is on 105.3 FM, Fox Sports New Orleans, and NBA TV.

The Kings are 6-4 while the Pelicans are 5-4. The Pelicans are clearly coming off a horrendous loss in Portland following a total breakdown and a 34-13 fourth quarter last night. The Kings’ last game was a win against the Spurs in Sacramento.

Neither team is battling long-term injury, but Asik may sit again with a sore back (game time decision). Meanwhile, DeMarcus Cousins is playing with high usage and at a high level. The Kings are quite the rebounding team, so missing Asik could really hurt tonight.

Pelicans Stats
Kings Stats

We’ll update this post with any news, relevant articles, or great comments, of course, particularly Asik’s status.

My questions to start the chit-chat:

  • How much time will Davis get guarding Cousins, and how will he do?
  • How will Jimmer Fredette do against the team that drafted him and let him go?
  • What is up with Eric Gordon?

Keep a look out for the following former New Orleans players: Carl Landry, Darren Collison, and Omri Casspi (sort of).

Update: Asik is OUT for the game tonight.

]]> 12
Weakside Eyes: Reviewing the Anthony Davis (Audio) Tue, 18 Nov 2014 16:41:18 +0000 Gerry talks about Anthony Davis, his improvement, and looks at the Spurs game for some examples.

V on Davis’ Improvement

V on Davis in the Spurs Game

Gerry V is a 21-year NBA analyst, 17-year talk radio host, a 16-year coach . . . also hosts “News Talk” on 99.5 FM WRNO New Orleans 5 a.m. – 9 a.m. every weekday. Follow Gerry V on twitter (@GVTalk).

]]> 1
Observations: Pelicans @ Blazers Tue, 18 Nov 2014 05:37:19 +0000 For the second time this season, the Pelicans held all the cards through the first three quarters – and then sputtered in the fourth and lost the game.  Really – the Blazers didn’t change their defense much – it’s just that the Pelican guards started missing.  I mentioned in the game preview that the Blazers drop back on pick and rolls and stay home on shooters.  They did that all game long.  Early on, the Pels were using that to get to the rim for easy ones – and if there was a miss, they got offensive rebounds.  In the fourth, as the Blazers stuck to the rolling Davis like glue, Jrue and Tyreke started taking open 10-foot shots or contested layups on the move, and Aldridge and Lopez kept Davis off the glass.

And the Pels missed.  A lot.  And on the other side, the Blazers hit shots and took advantage of their size over an Anderson-Davis frontcourt.  The Pels really did miss Asik a lot in this game.

Other Observations:

  • Tyreke started going nuts in the third.  It’s hard to enjoy it quite so thoroughly since the game was a loss, but Tyreke was brilliant for a while – and then started hitting pull up jumpers.  It was ridiculous.
  • Gordon had a good game going in the first half.  He apparently played in the second.  I think.  Not sure I remember seeing him.
  • Kaman was a bull in the middle until New Orleans suddenly remembered he’s extremely turnover prone.  Once they started attacking his dribble, he was pulled.  Of course, that was AFTER he’d scored 15 on 10 shots.
  • Ajinca wasn’t the wreck I was expecting.  He had stretches of bad, and stretches of good.  Good enough for your fourth big.
  • Jeff Withey just had stretches of bad.  Dude wanted to block everything.  He was pump-faked into the rafters about 87-million times.
  • Davis’ double block of Aldridge and Matthews in the third was nuts.  He also should have gotten the ball more in the fourth when that pick and roll up top kept failing.  It’s nice to think Jrue and Tyreke from 5-10 feet is a good shot, but it’s not.
  • Oh, and Davis had 31 pts on 20 shots, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, 3 steals, 0 turnovers.  All he needed was a little help, not 16-48 shooting from the guards/wings.

This team is young, and what it needs to do is figure out how to win games on the road still.  Tonight, they had a win on the road, and they let it slip through their fingers.  Hopefully the can bounce back tomorrow night against the Kings.


]]> 18
Game On: Pelicans @ Trailblazers Mon, 17 Nov 2014 16:45:38 +0000 I’m hoping Aldridge shows up for this game since he’s listed Day to Day.  While that would make the game somewhat more difficult than otherwise, I currently have two Pelican plays I enjoy more than any other – A Ryan Anderson step back three – and Anthony Davis blocking shots that no other player in the league can get to.  Jumpers from Aldridge and Nowitzki qualify for this last one. (As do all the guards who think they can loft a shot over Davis on the perimeter when iso’d on him.)

So I’m hoping for an enjoyable Davis v Aldridge battle.

In reality, this whole game is full of fun matchups.  Lopez v His Replacement.  Lillard’s explosive offense vs Holiday’s quick-footed defense.  The aforementioned Davis v Aldridge.  Wes Matthew’s power guard play vs Tyreke Evans freight train offense.  Eric Gordon v . . .  okay that’s rarely a fun matchup.  At least there’s no Batum tonight, making Gordon vs McCullom, Steve Blake or Allen Crabbe a situation that he should be able to win.

Oh, and we’ll all get to boo Chris Kaman!  Yay!

Here are the Keys to the Game:

  • Portland is the third best rebounding team in the league – and in particular excel on the offensive glass.  The Pels bench won’t be able to match Kaman and Thomas Robinson’s work on the glass, so the starters are going to have to dominate Aldridge and Lopez to neutralize this Portland strength.  Thankfully, that is a possibility this year – where in years past, the Pels were just screwed.
  • Make penetration pay.  The Trailblazers have been great this year in staying home on three point shooters and letting their bigs and guards contain penetration and still force bad shots.  This defense has generated the 2nd best opponent eFG% in the league.  If the Pels get into the offense, they have to make Portland pay for not bringing help defense from the wings.  Looking at you Tyreke and Gordon.
  • Take advantage of turnovers.  The Trailblazers are giving up a bottom 10 number in turnovers.  The Pelicans have to force those and run them down their throat.  This can be a big deal because the Pels have been exceptional at limiting turnovers, and the Trailblazers don’t force many – so the Pelicans can have a big advantage in this category.

Enjoy the game!

]]> 3
Stats v 1.0: The Starting Five Mon, 17 Nov 2014 02:45:03 +0000 Stats are fun.  And though the season is young, some patterns are starting to emerge for the Pelicans, particularly in the starting unit.  So I decided to put together a couple of stats that I found interesting and provide a little explanation as to why I found them interesting or what seems to be causing them.

***All stats via NBA Wowy!

Stat 1: It is no longer called the Kobe assist.  It is the Tyreke Evans assist.

Picture 2When playing with the starters, 50% of Tyreke’s misses are rebounded by the Pelicans. 50 freaking percent.  If you are looking for some sort of number to explain how pivotal Evans is to the offense, look no further.  Tyreke is a drive machine, and he is freeing up an absurd amount of easy cleanup opportunities for Davis and Asik.  To be clear, it isn’t all Tyreke- Davis can access putbacks that very few other players can and Asik is very good at carving out space.. but when Tyreke gets to the rack, good things happen.

Stat 2: Davis has to be the most unusual high-usage player in the NBA

Picture 1

For those of you who are unfamiliar with advanced stats, Davis’s conditional usage rate of 31.2 with the starters would be good for 6th highest in the NBA.  The players with higher usage rates? Kobe, Cousins, Melo, Harden, Rose.  All of these players do a heavy load of creating via isolation.  Davis, despite being near the league lead in points, does not.  33 of his 45 made field goals in this unit were assisted.

Davis is involved in almost every play, of course, but for every isolation play or pin-down he receives, he is setting the screen on a pick and roll, flying down the floor in transition, or using his outrageously long arms to corral an offensive rebound.  Davis could legitimately score 20 points a game without having a play being drawn up for him.




]]> 6
In Search of an Eighth Man for the New Orleans Pelicans Sun, 16 Nov 2014 14:58:24 +0000 Prior to the season starting, our own Mason Ginsberg wondered whether a 7th man would emerge. Austin Rivers clearly has, but unfortunately there is still a gaping hole on the wing and ideally it will get plugged up as the Pelicans race towards a playoff spot in the competitive Western Conference. Some may say that it is too early to assume that the answer is not on this roster, but I already feel like we have seen enough from the Miller-Babbitt-Salmons trio to make a judgement. Miller gives you nothing when he is on the floor. In 21 minutes this year, he has zero rebounds, blocks, or steals and just two assists. And that is pretty much the norm for him over his career.

Salmons has been abysmal. I mean, he has been so bad that the didn’t even get any run when we were up by 53 the other night. He looks painfully slow on defense and unable to contribute anything offensively. And then there is Luke Babbitt, who has been fine offensively due mostly to his three-point shooting, but has been an eye sore defensively. He is the only player this season to make that #24 guy on the Lakers look like Kobe Bryant. The fact is that he is a fine small ball power forward, but he can’t defend wing players in this league.

Dell has to pull another small rabbit out of his hat in these next few months and he has to do it without giving up any significant present or future assets. We also can’t be unrealistic and propose any Eric Gordon trades in this piece. And because of his play, I will leave Austin Rivers out as well because moving him would just land us a 7th man, and we would be right back looking for a different 8th man – and that’s the whole point of this article. Only unnecessary pieces can be moved or released for the purpose of this piece, so do not expect superstars to be coming back. That is not what we need anyway. We have five fantastic players and two solid ones; All that is needed is one more everyday rotation guy that can be great in his role for 12-15 minutes per night. Here’s a look at some guys who can fit that role.

Trade Targets

(Practically everyone in the NBA becomes eligible to trade on December 15th and the trade deadline is in late February)

Andrei Kirilenko, Brooklyn Nets

When Kirilenko went to Brooklyn, everyone in the league was convinced there was some kind of wink-wink deal because he took far below market value to go there. Cut to two years later and Kirilinko is having a hard time getting off the bench due to the emergence of Bojan Bogdanovic. The Nets are well into the luxury tax, and if they have no use for him, they could be swayed to let if go for some younger guys and a few million in savings. Remember, we helped them with something similar last year with the Tyshawn Taylor trade.

Kirilenko is a veteran who would instantly earn Monty’s trust, and while he really isn’t a three-point threat, he is an intelligent defender that can still score in half court or transition, with better than average rebounding and passing for his position.

Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks

Jason Kidd has given Middleton DNP’s even when he was completely healthy, citing some defensive issues. The Bucks are also overloaded at small forward, and for now, it appears that Middleton could be the odd man out. While his defense has never been great, his shooting was last season when he got regular minutes. Middleton hit 120 three’s last season, shooting 41.4% from behind the arc. If Kidd wants defense and intensity, why not ship Withey or Patric Young over to Milwaukee and bring Middleton to New Orleans, where he can just spot up and rain three’s whenever he is on the court.

Chris Copeland, Indiana Pacers

Dell supposedly had some interest in Copeland two summers ago, but he signed with Indiana who didn’t play him much last year. They have been forced to give him some minutes this year because of injuries to Paul George, but they want former 1st round pick Solomon Hill and recent FA signing CJ Miles to get those minutes moving forward. Once David West comes back, expect Copeland’s minutes to go way down. Copeland has his flaws, but he at least makes the opposition worry about him as a three-point threat and can rebound. He even can post up a bit and is a solid passer. Again, nothing great, but an upgrade over the options Monty currently has.

Jared Dudley, Milwaukee Bucks

15 months ago, Jared Dudley was such a valuable commodity that he was a major piece in a trade that got the Suns Eric Bledsoe. He was the ultimate role player, able to defend, pass, and hit the three, AND he was on a great contract. Cut to present day and he was a contract that the Bucks essentially got paid to take on and one they would be willing to dump for expirings. Again, he is a veteran and a career 42% three-point shooter from the corners who is a good passer. It’s hard to believe that his game has declined as much as his numbers have these past two years. He is just 29, and hasn’t had a clearly defined role since leaving Phoenix. Perhaps the Pelicans can buy low, give him a role, and reap the benefits.

Jeremy Evans, Utah Jazz

Evans had his best season last year, but has not been able to get off the bench after the Jazz added free agents and rookies at his position this summer. Evans can’t shoot, but he is an electrifying athlete who can run the break, defend, and rebound exceptionally. He is basically a more fluid Aminu without the bonehead turnovers and with more consistent defense. Worth a flier if the Jazz have no use for him.


(Dell went out and found former NBA players Luke Babbitt and Alexis Ajinca last year. Can he do it again?)

Sonny Weems

Weems had a couple of solid seasons in Denver and Toronto after getting drafted early in the 2nd round. He has been out of the league for three years now and has been playing well overseas. He has slowly been increasing the range on his shot and is currently having his best season from deep, shooting 44% from behind the arc. His basketball IQ has also increased, as he has added the ability to set up his teammates as well. At 28, he has 7 years of professional experience now – 3 in the NBA and 4 in the second best league in the world (Eurolegue). He just might be ready for another chance.

James Anderson

Yes, this is the James Anderson who was a first round pick for the San Antonio Spurs. You know, the team that supposedly never misses on draft picks. Well, Anderson played 80 games for the Sixers last year and had some moments. Now, he is in the Euroleague lighting up the scoreboard. Anderson is averaging 15 points in just under 25 minutes and is shooting a blistering 47.6% from deep on nearly 8 attempts per game. He can score and has good size, and has the potential to give the Pelicans a knock down threat that understands the NBA culture and is hungry after what must have been a miserable season in Philadelphia after playing for a world class organization in San Antonio.

Buyout Candidates

(After the trade deadline, teams no longer in the playoff hunt often buy out players who have no future with the team)

Chase Budinger, Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves are loaded with young wings, and while Budinger has a player option for next year, he and the Wolves might agree to a buyout that can help him get to a playoff contender while helping Minnesota gets more minutes for its future core. Budinger has fallen off a bit, but he was one of the best corner three-point shooters in the league back when he was a regular in the rotation. Before the injuries, he was a slightly above average defender and a slightly below average rebounder, and if the Pelicans get even 80% of the player he used to be, it would be a huge upgrade.

Luc Mbah a Moute, Philadelphia 76ers

Mbah a Moute is another guy who can’t shoot from deep, but he would instantly upgrade their perimeter defense and could steal a couple of possessions by getting a few offensive rebounds. Mbah a Moute’s best seasons were in Milwaukee when the team was in the playoff hunt, and after a couple of months in Philadelphia, he should be as hungry as ever to contribute for an up and coming playoff team.

Insert Current Player Currently on a Good Team

Every year, a playoff team includes solid player in a deal to a team that is just trying to dump a contract or add draft picks. Not wanting to win, that bad team dumps said good player and he is free to sign with another playoff contender.  Imagine the Grizzlies trading Tayshaun Prince with some picks to the Celtics for Jeff Green, for instance. Now, Boston wouldn’t want Prince, so they cut him. While he is not the old Prince, he is an upgrade over Salmons or Miller. Imagine a similar scenario with the Clippers trading Matt Barnes for a better SF or the Mavericks moving Richard Jefferson. History says that one or two of these guys will be out there, and the Pelicans will have the opportunity for these veteran players to have a significant role on a possible playoff team.




]]> 25
Tyreke Evans and Small Sample Sizes Sat, 15 Nov 2014 18:40:02 +0000 I’ve been known to get a little salty about how NBA fans, especially those of the Twitter variety, talk about and use statistics. I am by no means a statistics expert, but I’ve studied it enough to know that often what we refer to as “statistics”, as basketball fans, is just arithmetic. But that is a case of no harm no foul. Really, we are just being a bit conspicuous with our use of numbers, so we try and give it a more impressive name.

However, this point of the season always brings up a pet peeve of mine. Normally, I would do breathing exercises or count to ten, but I thought a more productive thing to do would be to write about it here for all of you intelligent and clever fans. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably guessed I’m talking about the common usage of “small sample size” among NBA fans.

In short, I think all of people are using it incorrectly. When I see someone say something along the lines of, “Well, yeah but small sample size”. Often, what they are actually saying is we have seen a trend over a few games, and I don’t expect it to continue for much longer. Sometimes, that’s fine, but it can also be a blatant misuse of the concept. The other thing that bothers me is that it becomes a conditional statement. That is, people use it when it helps a point they are trying to make, but suddenly forget it when it damages their argument. Nope. When sample sizes are small, that is a statistical and mathematical reality that affects any estimation you want to make. There is no way around this. We can only say so much when we have fewer than 20-30 observations.

Obviously, we see these types of statement a lot in October and November, because every sample size is small. We’ve only played a handful of games. The truly relevant use of small sample size for statisticians is not inherently about something not meeting your expectations. It is a bit more nuanced. Let me explain by talking about Tyreke Evans (bet, you thought it was going to be another guard, right?).

Here’s the thing. In eight games this season, Tyreke has been really bad at finishing at the rim. He is only shooting 43.7% within 3 feet. For his career, Tyreke has been a good to very good finisher with last year being his worst season when he finished at a rate of 54.4%. His best season was 2011-12 (65.4%). The chart below shows his shooting percentages at the rim over his career.

Tyreke Evans Small Sample

This is a pretty great case study of small samples. Basically, we have seen Tyreke shoot poorly at the rim. However, we haven’t seen a lot. Could this just be a fluke, or is something going wrong? Well, with that type of uncertainty, statistics sure can help.

First I want to know, how strange is what we’ve seen. In other words, given the number of shots he has taken this year, how likely is it that he would hit that many or fewer? We can use something called a binomial distribution to get an answer to this type of question. You can do some googling and find some clear explanations of what a binomial distribution is, so I won’t repeat them here. To give you a basic idea, a binomial distribution looks at cases where you either have a success or failure. Think about flipping a coin. It either comes up heads or tails. Then, it asks okay how many times did you flip it and how many times did you get heads? Once you give that it that information and the probability of a success vs. failure (50-50 for the coin example), it tells you here is the expected probability of you getting that many heads for the number of times you flipped.

Before I get to Tyreke I should say something about the assumptions of a binomial distribution. A binomial distribution assumes that each trial is independent. That is to say, a previous outcome will not affect future trials. In Tyreke’s case, missing or making a shot will not affect the probability the next shot goes in. This might be a little reductive. A player might have more confidence after making a shot, which may lead to a higher probability he makes another. Having said that, it seems reasonable to suggest that shots are closer to independent than dependent. That is why we see great shooters consistently shoot around the same percentage for a decade.

Anyway, for Tyreke, I said, he has shot 71 times at the rim this season (flips of a coin). He has made that shot 26 times (number of heads). Given his worst season rate at the rim, 54.4%, what is the probability that Tyreke would make 31 or fewer shots? In our coin example, I would have used 50% for a fair coin. However, I have to input a value for something like layups. I choose his worst season percentage to prevent any screams of bias. The result? The probability that Tyreke would make 31 or fewer layups on 71 attempts is .0451 or 4.51%. (Note: I’m using the cumulative density function, which adds all the probabilities from 0 to 31 shots. It didn’t make a significant difference either way, but I wanted to know what the odds were for him doing this well or worse.)

That’s low. Like really low. We would have expected, given his percentage during his worst season, that Tyreke would have hit at least a few more layups. Here is where we can say something about small sample sizes. Tyreke has taken 71 layups this year. Last season, he took over 500, which was the most he ever took in a season. The fewest layups he ever took in a season was 287 in 2010-2011, but he only appeared in 53 games. He usually plays about 66 games a year. In an average year, he takes a little fewer than 400 layups. So, if this year is typical than Tyreke has already taken somewhere between 14% and 19% of his total layups for the season.

Why does this matter? Return to our coin example. Let’s say I ask you to flip a coin with a 50-50 probability of heads or tails 10 times. You get heads 7 times. By pure intuition alone, if I asked you how crazy this result was, you’d probably say, “Meh, its more heads than I expected, but I’m not shocked.” Now, let’s do the same thing, but this time you flip it 1,000 times. If you got 700 heads, you’d be pretty shocked, right? In the first case, you thought that if you kept flipping you’d eventually get some tails in there. This is one of the problems with small samples. We don’t have enough data to make any conclusive statements about the population mean (i.e. what we are interested in measuring).

I want to talk about one more thing related to small sample sizes. I’ve been working with this data since about game 5 of the season. One thing, I’ve noticed is that the Tyreke’s shooting percentage has increased dramatically from then to now. He has increases from shooting 39% at the rim to about 43.7% at the rim, in only four games. The table below summarizes his totals and marginal increases from the San Antonio game until now.

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 1.22.46 PM

What’s the point? Well, look at how adding just a few shots over a small number of games dramatically increased Tyreke’s overall layup percentage. When sample sizes are small, things like field goal percentage are very sensitive to adding another observation. Once our number of observations increases to a relatively large number, Tyreke taking and making that next layup won’t really affect his overall percentage. Right now we are so early in the season that a couple of good games can completely change your assessment. That is really the point here. When you draw a conclusion from a small sample size, you could be right or wrong. Tyreke may have a bad season shooting at the rim this year. That is entirely possible. The real point isn’t wether your assessment is right or wrong. The point is that small sample sizes impose some serious limitations, as we have seen from looking at these numbers. In short, the only real thing we can say, is that we can say much. Small sample sizes are just are hard and unavoidable truth of statistical inquiry.

I could leave it at that, but the social scientist in me won’t allow it. One of the major factors separating the social sciences from the natural sciences is the laboratory. In a lab, you take the one variable you’re interested in, and you say I want to measure this holding everything else constant. See why it would be hard for an economist, who is interested in measuring the affect of education on wage, to do that? He can’t just go around assigning a certain number of years of education to 1000’s of children at random. He doesn’t have a laboratory.

We also don’t have a basketball laboratory. There are a lot of factors going on at once. Some we can measure. Even more we can’t, and we certainly can’t hold every other factor constant. Still, when we see something like Tyreke’s poor layup percentage, it is fair to ask why. Why has he shot so poorly? Of course, we already talked about small sample sizes, but what was the cause? Often, it is injuries, but it can also be things like adjusting to a new system, changes to your play style or new teammates, or even the opponents you are playing.

I could go more in depth here and give my own opinions, but I’ve been going on for a while. Let’s just leave it at this. A relatively small number of observations make it difficult to draw conclusions in any direction. We haven’t seen enough games or lay up attempts to know if something is really wrong with Tyreke. His percentage could drop for any number of reasons, but we won’t know more until we approach that magical 20-30 game mark. Then we can say more, until now it is all conjecture in the small sample size theater.

]]> 10
New Orleans Pelicans Set Records Against the Timberwolves Sat, 15 Nov 2014 06:46:16 +0000 Good teams defeat the teams that they should beat; great teams demolish them. After playing a terrible final four minutes against the Lakers on Wednesday, it was clear that they were not going to let up off the gas if they got a big lead tonight. The lead became double digits early on, then hit twenty in the second half. Then thirty. Then before you knew it, they were up forty. Then, dare I say it, 50! The intensity wavered a little bit from time to time, but every time that it did, the players were reminded of Wednesday night and the rout continued.

Records were broken tonight at the Timberwolves expense. Most points in a half (80). Most points in a game (139). Most FG’s made (56). Highest Effective Field Goal Percent (75.6%). The offense was amazing, and this wasn’t a terrible defensive team. The Pelicans just started hot and never let up. The Pelicans got into the paint at will (56 points) and hit their three’s as well (15-20). As Bryan Gates noted at the half, “the guys were willing to make the extra pass.” The ball moved freely around the perimeter, and even though the team only had 17 fast break points, they played with tremendous pace throughout the game. After rebounds, they got the ball into a guards hands and got into their offense incredibly early.

The guys said all the right things after the game. Jrue claims that the team is starting to click, while Austin loves the chemistry he and Ryno are building off the bench. And yes, tonight was a great sign, but it won’t mean anything if they go out and lay an egg on their upcoming road trips. 9 of their next 11 are on the road, and they will go face to face with teams that they will be competing with for a playoff spot this year. The Pelicans will travel to Portland, Sacramento, OKC, Golden State, and LA (Clippers). They won’t need record-breaking performances every night, but they will need guys to show up and help Anthony Davis against the top teams in the league moving forward. Demolishing the Timberwolves and refusing to let off the gas is a great sign, as this team continues to show flashes of greatness – and those flashes are getting longer and longer with each passing game.

Notes and Observations

– Confidence is a real thing, and the Pelicans top players have it right now. Austin Rivers has improved his skill set, but more than anything you see him brimming with confidence. Eric Gordon looked shook after the first few games, but he has had a bounce in his step these last few games. And what can you say about AD? He clearly knows he is the best player on the court every time he steps onto it and doesn’t hesitate on the offensive end. Ryno and Tyreke never lacked confidence in their offensive game, and now Jrue is coming back around to his All-Star level – good luck NBA.

– Luke Babbitt can hit some shots, but in the last two games we have seen him try to defend Kobe and Andrew Wiggins, and you shouldn’t be surprised that the results were horrible. He is the backup small forward by default (see below), but his destiny in this league seems to be as a solid small ball four. With Ryno and AD at that position, we don’t need that from him right now, so he is forced to play out of position. He went 4-4 from three tonight, so the good outweighed the bad, but the defense is bad. Real bad.

– John Salmons didn’t even see the court in a game we led by 53. That says a lot. Darius Miller got 17 minutes and didn’t log a single rebound, assist, block, steal, or free throw attempt. He went 1-3 from the field and picked up 4 fouls. Like I said, Babbitt is a SF by default at this point.

– The Pelicans were able to switch a lot defensively tonight – both on off-ball screens and on-ball screens. Save for a stretch in the third quarter when the Pels lacked a little focus (up by 50+), the Timberwolves really didn’t get any easy looks. The Pelicans defense made them work for everything, and if not for some questionable calls by the refs, the Wolves might have had trouble breaking 80 tonight. Asik, in particular, was impressive as he was able to stonewall Pekovic. And outside of a bad foul early on by Eric Gordon, the Pelicans perimeter guys did a terrific job on Kevin Martin. The offense is fun, especially on record-breaking nights like this, but this team will go as far as its defense will take them, and it is trending toward average.

– Tyreke Evans had his head up a lot more when he was driving to the hole tonight, and the result was a couple of easy points for AD. He also was able to finish at the rim (10 points in the paint). Again, a great sign, but I want to see it against the top teams. At the end of the day, these guys will be measured by what they do against playoff teams, not the Magic, Lakers, and T’Wolves. We need more performances like the one we had in the first 44 minutes against the Spurs when we play top teams. If we see a couple of wire to wire wins against top tier teams, then we have real reason to get excited.

– So many good things to say about the performance tonight, but the biggest takeaway is that you see this team growing before your eyes. It is becoming more and more clear what they want to do on the offensive end and there are better rotations on the defensive end. Even after defensive breakdowns, you see these guys getting together to discuss what went wrong. It’s a process, and they are growing. If they continue to grow both individually and collectively, they will terrorize the rest of the league.

]]> 13
Timberwolves at Pelicans Open Thread Fri, 14 Nov 2014 23:07:35 +0000 The New Orleans Pelicans take on the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight, who will be without Ricky Rubio (injury) and Thad Young (passing of mother.. prayers to Young and his family).  The Pelicans enter tonight with a 4-3 record and the Timberwolves are currently 2-5.

Questions for tonight:

1)  Nikola Pekovic is a bear in the paint.. can defensive stalwart Omer Asik handle him without much help from teammates?

2)  Does the bench get more minutes tonight, and if so, how do they do?

3)  Who is the Pelicans leading scorer tonight?

4)  Which Timberwolves player scares you the most?

Weigh in below!

]]> 6
Observations on Pelicans v Lakers Thu, 13 Nov 2014 05:51:13 +0000 109-102 is the final score.  Looked at without context, that’s probably a bit disappointing.  The Pelicans are trying to be hot stuff, and the Lakers are simply an incubator for lots of shots from Kobe.  The Pels should rock that team.

Well they did.  Until the last five minutes of the game the Pelicans were up twenty.  Then Monty fed starters back into the game and those guys mistook the proceedings for a lark and pretty much screwed around the whole time.  So the game was a bit like a Ice Cream Sundae capped with a piece of spam.  No one is really sure why that spam is there, so let’s just disregard it, flip it to the side and eat the Sundae.

  • 25-12-6 on 16 shots for Anthony Davis.  He did have three turnovers though, so screw that guy.
  • Eric Gordon started out the game extremely aggressive, driving to the rim for a nice layup and finding open cutters again and again as he drove to the hoop.  His defense on Kobe was adequate, though by the fourth he was making lame mistakes.  He also was unable to continue his aggressive offense into the second half and ended up with his standard terrible line.  It’s been a long time since we’ve gotten a full good game from Gordon.  Would be nice to see a few.
  • Carlos Boozer doesn’t even try anymore.  In an instructive play in the first quarter, Davis and Asik crashed the glass, boxing out Jordan Hill after Boozer launched a shot just outside the free throw line.  Anthony Davis takes off and runs the floor while Asik clears and dishes to Gordon.  Boozer lumbers back and barely reaches the three point line before Davis is standing beneath the basket, alone, waving his hands for a pass.  Instead of trying to rush ahead and do something to stop Davis, Boozer slows down and waits for Asik to catch up to him, and then places his hand on Asik as Davis dunks.  I was actually a little outraged Boozer would think anyone would be stupid enough to think that Asik was his guy, not Davis.  Oh wait – maybe Byron Scott was fooled.  He rewarded Boozer’s excellence by running a play for him next time down the floor.
  • Byron Scott never really left his bench.  I’m not sure he was even watching the game most of the time.
  • Austin Rivers was excellent tonight, though his line doesn’t stand out.  The defense on Kobe ratcheted way up when he came on the floor, and his hesitation dribbles were getting him free from everyone on the way into the paint.  One of his crossovers lost Ronnie Price so badly that Price felt he needed to club Rivers in the head to try and get some credibility back.  Instead, he got a Flagrant 2 and was tossed.
  • Price used to be a freak athlete, but he has clearly lost every bit of that advantage.  Everybody was treating him like a traffic cone out there.  Holiday had two layups that he almost missed because he couldn’t believe that A. he could possibly have gotten 15 feet of separation from Price given only 20 feet to work with – and B. No other Laker was interested in entering the paint to stop him.
  • The Lakers ran 8 pick and rolls with Kobe as the screener and Lin as the ball-handler.  Every one of those ended with Kobe receiving the ball 21 feet from the basket and then waiting while Lin cleared out.  Considering it would be easier to just have Kobe post up and receive the ball – and that would start him 12-16 feet from the basket – I’m still trying to figure out what the hell the point was.
  • EVANS HIT SOME LAYUPS!  Seriously!  He missed some too, including one uncontested one that hit the backboard and went completely over the rim and missed everything.  But he hit a few!  He also hit 2 threes, putting him at 50% for the season.  Raise your hand if you thought Tyreke was going to be one of our best shooters this season.  If your hand is raised, you’re a lying sack of something.
  • Before the last 5 minutes of horribleness, Jrue Holiday had a nice efficient game going, sitting at 8-12 for 17 points, 2 fouls and zero turnovers.  He finished 8-17 for 17 points, 5 fouls and 1 turnover.  Yeah.  Ugly last five.
  • Ryan Anderson’s confidence with his shooting and solid ballhandling can cause such problems for opponents.  He got the ball in the post, turned, ran towards Davis for a pick (which seemed to surprise Davis a little bit) and when both the Lakers bigs ran into this unusual situation and got tangled, he faked a pass towards a freely rolling Davis, stepped back behind the line and drilled a three.  On any other big man that was a rock-stupid shot, especially with Davis rolling to the hoop alone.  On Anderson, it’s good stuff.
  • Luke Babbitt was the first guy off the bench as a small forward.  His first assignment was guarding Kobe.  That went about as well as expected.  He did hit a shot though!

Next game is Minnesota!

]]> 8
Game On: Lakers @ Pelicans Wed, 12 Nov 2014 19:43:59 +0000 The Lakers come rolling into town tonight to take on the Pelicans in the hopes of grabbing their second win of the season.  So far, despite a torrent of moderately ineffective field goal attempts from Kobe, the Lakers have executed a team-wide commitment to attacking the basket, earning them a league average offense.  28 free throw attempts per game will do that for you.

Of course, on the flip side, the Lakers rather un-athletic team is giving away a near league-worst number of free throws to other teams.(32 per game)  Combine that with allowing the 24th highest number of three point attempts and the Lakers have the worst defense in the league.  In fact, go back 20 years.  The Lakers defense so far this season is worse than any team during that time.  Now – they probably aren’t actually that awful, but they are pretty bad.

The Pelicans are more likely to take advantage of a lack of defense on the three point line – as their attempts have increased by 32% over last year.  They aren’t, however, likely to take advantage of the free throw line, as they are drawing 5% fewer free throws than their already free-throw allergic offense from last year.(27th in the league.)

Happily, the Pelicans should crush the Lakers on the boards and sport an easy advantage in turnovers, both areas where the Pelicans rank near the top of the league.  If they can stick a few of those easy threes, or if one of the Pelican guards decide free throws are helpful to their cause, the Lakers should provide points in abundance and make this a laugher.

Questions of the game:

  • Will the Lakers get the Pelicans ability to draw free throws jump-started?
  • Will Tyreke Evans hit better than 22% of his layups against Jordan Hill, Ed Davis and Carlos Boozer?
  • Over-under 10 three point attempts for Ryan Anderson.

Enjoy the game!

]]> 5
Notes on the New Orleans Pelicans’ Collapse in Cleveland Wed, 12 Nov 2014 17:30:19 +0000 Monday night, the New Orleans Pelicans lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-111. The Pelicans entered the fourth quarter down 6, but got to within 2 points with just under 4 minutes left to play. Still, the game ended with the Cavaliers raising the differential by 1 in the quarter. The real issue, however, was not the inability to get closer than 2 points so late. Rather, the issue was going from up 9 to down 6 in just over 4 minutes in the third.

We can define the run in a number of ways, including extending this into the fourth.

  • 25-7, max points difference and extending the run into the fourth
  • 16-1, max points difference but only in the third
  • 12-1, run when Asik or Davis was out, which is what I think is most interesting

Feel free to comment on other aspects of the collapse. I’m sure this is by no means exhaustive.

During this time, the Pelicans scored no field goal (same in the slightly longer version of the third quarter run). What the Pelicans did during this time, starting with the positive:

  • Eric Gordon went 1-2 from the line
  • 2 Davis rebounds, 1 offensive, 1 defensive
  • Missed 7 of 7 field goal attempts, 1 from 3
  • Committed 1 turnover (traveling by Rivers)
  • Committed 3 fouls (2 shooting)

During this run, Asik came out for Anderson, and Anderson got 1 shot attempt (7ft). In fact, the shot attempts were Evans (2), Davis (1, blocked), Anderson (1), Gordon (1), Fredette (2). To be clear, Asik came back in for Davis with 1m left to play in the quarter.

Cleveland, on the other hand, was 3-4 from the line (James), and scored 13 from the field: 2 by James, 2 by Thompson, and 9 by Irving. All shots, except for Irving’s three-point shot, were at or very close to the rim.

This run took 3:55. It was a 22-22 quarter up to that point. While not setting the standard for defensive prowess, such a quarter shows that the Pelicans could match the Cavs, just as the 78-73 score in the Pelicans’ favor showed.

Now, why I think this is interesting is that this highlights very sharply just how important defending the paint is for the Pelicans. It’s important for any team, but without a strong presence inside, the quick guards just blow through the perimeter and get to the rim (with or without the ball). When the defense tightens, they shoot three-point shots. Also, Davis alone just was not effective, just as Asik alone did not turn the tide late in the quarter.

Asik does quite well in his own right, but he lets Davis “Davis.” This is also very important.

To show the contrast, prior to this substitution for Anderson (which netted just 1 shot, but may have been to give Asik a breather), Irving had 3 shots at the rim, but that was in twice as much time. Other than 2 from Varejao (long two-point shot), the rest of the 22 were from James. Irving also missed shots prior to the substitution, and some were from midrange. He did not attempt a midrange shot after Asik subbed out, and he did not miss.

There were other stretches of the game where the substitution worked well, as in the first. In that stretch, however, Anderson got shots and hit them. In the third, that did not happen.

So the message is not that Asik is magic, Anderson is too streaky, or that Monty is a mouth-breather. The message is that this team has got to consciously attack on offense when their defensive anchors rest (as they must). This business of puttering about and lobbing firecrackers when you have a flamethrower begging to roast the competition (Anderson was 8 of 12 on three-point shots) can not continue. Lulls happen, sometimes the dice come up snake eyes, etc. Not even finding Anderson while Irving is finding the rim at the time when you know, without a doubt, that you have to “offend” because your ability to defense took a step back was a continually repeated error during the end of the third.

It’s the players not passing it or not finding him, or it’s Anderson not making himself find-able and open (one is not enough), or it’s Monty not stressing just where the easy button is. It needs to get fixed, whatever it is (likely a combo platter). Not today, and maybe not “tomorrow.” It’s just a game, or just two. Or three.

At some point, however, it affects the post-season meaningfully. I’m not sure when that it is, but if it comes to that, you can expect a very different kind of analysis . . . and not just from me . . . from the Pelicans.

]]> 2
In the NO Podcast Ep 194: Davis barking, Evans unfinished Wed, 12 Nov 2014 04:41:49 +0000 Michael and I unleash a swath of Anthony Davis appreciation before moving on to the much more flawed team. We focus greatly on Tyreke Evans and his finishing struggles, wonder at Asik’s place among Hornet/Pelican centers, enjoy the hell out of Ryan Anderson, and preview the Lakers and Minnesota.

Good times!

Enjoy the Podcast!

Like the Show or the Blog?

Like the music?

]]> 2
Watch Party Video Recap Tue, 11 Nov 2014 16:05:39 +0000 A big shout out to everyone who came out to the watch party at Tracey’s last night. It’s fantastic to meet everyone and get to know the person behind the username! We have a video recap of the event below!

]]> 1