BourbonStreetShots.com New Orleans Pelicans information, analysis and discussion 2018-01-24T21:30:17Z http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/feed/atom/ WordPress Jason Calmes <![CDATA[Mulling Miller]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56327 2018-01-24T21:29:10Z 2018-01-24T21:30:17Z Should Miller be getting more minutes? A different spot in the rotation? If not now, when? Mason: It looks like things are already trending that way: Miller has played 30+ regulation minutes in each of his past 3 games. Gentry appears to have landed on one of two crunch time lineups depending on the matchup: […]]]>

Should Miller be getting more minutes? A different spot in the rotation? If not now, when?

Mason: It looks like things are already trending that way: Miller has played 30+ regulation minutes in each of his past 3 games. Gentry appears to have landed on one of two crunch time lineups depending on the matchup: Holiday, Moore, Davis, Cousins, & either Clark or Miller. The Pelicans have outscored opponents by 56 points since the new year (10 games) with Miller on the floor. Assuming his minutes hang around 30 or so per game, the only question remaining is this: should he start? I lean towards no. I would rather start Ian Clark and bring Miller in off the bench with Rondo. Hill will eventually be the starter when he returns, so it makes sense to avoid messing with Miller’s role since it’s clear that he will get extensive playing time regardless.

42: It’s not consistent, but he’s been seeing more 30+ minute games, and that’s appropriate. I was critical of his reluctance to shoot in his first run here and had a watchful eye on this when we returned. As soon as he showed the willingness to shoot, I happily pointed it out (while others were distracted by Clark) and have been watching him since. His three is respected, and he’s added more movement, cutting, passing to his game, and his defense is acceptable. All of that said, I would feel free to play him more and more, but I wouldn’t put him into a real starting role unless an injury or other absence afforded the opportunity.

I just don’t want there to be a setback with him. The team is in the mix, so I’d rather be careful and stay in the pack since growth is occurring rather than trying to hit another gear with the risk of losing some gains in his confidence. Give the guy the minutes, but don’t change the role. Starting is somewhat arbitrary and is nearly meaningless over the course of 48 minutes (or more), but it comes with pressure. Not worth it. When Hill returns, the minutes will come from all over. If Hill plays the role of backup big, Miller can perhaps take some of Rondo’s and Nelson’s minutes if he can show that he can pass suitably, not as a point guard, just as someone who can move the ball to a scorer in a good situation or out of a bad situation he is in.

Kumar: Yes. Maybe. I think Miller should consistently get 27-30 MPG. I am unsure of if he should start. I believe playing Miller off the bench allows him to build confidence and play with less pressure. It allows him to play against weaker competition and get in stride for the final minutes. However, our starting lineup has performed so poorly that you would almost wish Miller would start. In a perfect world, Solomon Hill gets to start at small forward and Miller continues to receive a healthy dose of minutes from the bench. But the Pelicans do not have that liberty at the moment. The one argument against starting Miller is that he is prone to easy fouls – hand in the cookie jar syndrome. Pitting him against starting wings night in and night out could be problematic. Fouls may take him out of his rhythm offensively and have him playing timid defensively. If forced to pick an answer, I agree with Mason. I would start Clark until Hill is healthy and close with Miller.

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Jesse Brooks <![CDATA[Despite Hawks loss, recent stretch of games prove Pelicans still deserve your support]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56308 2018-01-19T02:23:52Z 2018-01-19T02:23:52Z On January 1, The Advocate published an op-ed by New Orleans Pelicans beat writer Scott Kushner that explained why fans of the franchise deserved better than what has currently been offered. Considering that the Pelicans have only won one playoff series in the last 15 years, and have displayed nothing but inconsistency since adopting their […]]]>

On January 1, The Advocate published an op-ed by New Orleans Pelicans beat writer Scott Kushner that explained why fans of the franchise deserved better than what has currently been offered.
Considering that the Pelicans have only won one playoff series in the last 15 years, and have displayed nothing but inconsistency since adopting their “win now” philosophy, there is a lot to agree with in Kushner’s piece. The mainstay fans have waited for greatness in the Anthony Davis, noting the potential in his rare talent, but rather than unifying the city and Gulf Coast region the franchise has only done well enough to occasionally check in on their smartphones.

In the mind of a local fan that has never completely bought in, keeping the Pelicans at a distance prevents heartache.

I don’t have to address the Davis to Boston rumors that are a sole creation of a collaboration by the Celtics’ front office and East Coast media. You already know about it. If you’re a diehard, I feel your pain. It’s only a matter of time before the local casual fan starts repeating what they’ve heard from the big talking heads if they aren’t already.

Kushner’s piece is important because it vocalized our emotion in a rational way. We are hurting and we would like to let you know. More specifically, the column was a response to what was probably the most frustrating two-game stretch this season in which the Pels lost to Western Conference bottom feeder Dallas Mavericks and the New York Knicks, who has given a similar frustration to fans following that race in the East. For the Pelicans, the fight to stay above .500 has equated to treading water.

Pelicans fans have been operating on extreme emotions since 2002. We get a franchise for the first time since the departure of the Jazz, our franchise face Baron Davis asks out, the Dan Dickau era, two seasons of temporary relocation to OKC, purchased and sold by the NBA, the departure of Chris Paul and the arrival of Anthony Davis. It’s safe to safe to say we have been through a lot, and it is hard to keep the perspective of the present as the weight of history is on our shoulders.
However, if we can keep the perspective of the present in focus we should realize that the Pelicans are still a team in flux despite acquiring talent.

Acquiring talent does not automatically make you a winner, but it is necessary when you are a small market franchise. Get it, then assess. For reference, look at the Oklahoma City Thunder right now, a team I perceive to be taking on far less scrutiny than the Pels. The re-tooled trio of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George spent the season’s first two months below .500 and are now in the middle of the pack in the West thanks to a five-game win streak in December. They did what they needed to do to get superstars, and are figuring it out as they move along.

Taking on Demarcus Cousins meant there was one less superstar the Pelicans had to face in the West. Get the talent and assess. The Pelicans, now big in a small ball NBA, are in the midst of an experiment unfolding in real time. Offensively, we have seen components of the experiment work thanks to the unique skill set of these two.

Still, there are holes. Converting Jrue Holiday to an off-ball guard has worked, but it left point guard depth shallow after Rajon Rondo. This led to an in-season signing of 36-year-old Jameer Nelson, but a serch for depth there still persists. Losing small forward Solomon Hill before the season began for a still on-going period left a void in that position. E’Twuan Moore and Darius Miller were question marks going into this season in terms of being major contributors, but now they are the best options from the field.

Taking a 94-93 loss to the league’s worst team in Atlanta to end an East Coast road trip is not a good look, but the Pelicans did earn their projected 2-1 trip record thanks to a surprise overtime victory over Boston in which Davis put up 45 points and 16 rebounds. In a span of four days the Pels defeated Portland, New York in overtime and Boston in overtime before the ugly loss to the Hawks. Davis also totaled a combined 129 points and 42 rebounds during the win streak.

It’s hard for me to disregard the Atlanta loss as only a familiar trend when to me it had all the makings of a trap game, a common concept for a league that features so many second games of a back-to-back.

If you were expecting the Pels to contend for a title after beating Boston you were wrong, and if you expect that there is no more room to grow because they lost to Atlanta you are also wrong. Like fellow BSS writer Kumar pointed out on Twitter, the Pels were expected to drop a game during the road trip. We all just thought it would be Boston, and instead it was Atlanta, which messes with all of our emotions.

This is still a team worth being invested in, featuring a player that is making a MVP case. Anyone averaging 27.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg and PER of 29.35 (fifth in the NBA just behind Steph Curry) is worth your time.

Regardless of what happens with Cousins, Davis is under contract until 2020. How the franchise manages this team during that period may determine your fandom. Above all I’m a fan of the City of New Orleans and I like sports. Whoever is here I’ll show up for. I’ve been through much worse days with this basketball franchise. I’ve been through mind blowingly worse seasons with that football team that has the “soul” of the city.

Jump ship if you need to, but come Saturday I’ll be glued to Pelicans’ basketball when they take on Memphis.

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Jason Calmes <![CDATA[Discussing Hill’s Role]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56304 2018-01-17T19:17:09Z 2018-01-17T19:30:27Z How to optimize Hill, and will he be in that role? Michael Pellissier: I think Solomon Hill is best utilized as a small-ball 4. Hill had the 10th worst points per possession mark in the league last season of guys qualified for the MPG leaderboard: he is not the “driver” or “slasher” he is sometimes […]]]>

How to optimize Hill, and will he be in that role?

Michael Pellissier: I think Solomon Hill is best utilized as a small-ball 4. Hill had the 10th worst points per possession mark in the league last season of guys qualified for the MPG leaderboard: he is not the “driver” or “slasher” he is sometimes made out to be. Hill’s offense is mainly straight-line drives off of someone else’s creation or spotting up and he is a very low volume scorer. But what he does give you is excellent defense, and his offense should hurt a lot less at 4. The lineup that I want to see: Jrue, Moore, Darius, Solo, and AD. I think it’d provide a lot of defensive flexibility and would be a monster on offense. But, I expect Hill will be inserted into the starting lineup no later than 2-3 weeks after he comes back and that he will earn the bulk of his minutes with the starters. The Pels’ team defense is terrible and his return should help.

Kumar: I want Solomon playing as many minutes as possible with the crew from last year: Holiday, Moore, Cunningham, Davis. You can take out Cunningham for Miller, it doesn’t matter to me. The point is: I want Solomon in as many small ball situations as possible. I also think that as he gets back in game shape, he should slide over to the starting 3. Our current starting lineup has been awful, and we need some kind of fix. Starting Hill might be that fix. As far as closing games, it looks like Gentry has stumbled upon gold in Holiday, Clark, Moore, Davis, Cousins so it will have to be matchup based and when we need stops. Just keep Solomon’s minutes away from Rondo’s please and thank you.

42: I don’t care how long it takes him to fit in as long as it’s not that long. I think he’s great as a garbageman type of guy, and I hope to see him playing in a position to get rebounds. This is basically playing the 4 or 5 on offense when Davis or Cousins sits, depending on what the featured big is doing in that play, so long as he was helping to slow the best wings on defense. I don’t care if he starts or not, but as a low usage guy, he’s great for playing with featured players . . . start, finish, whatever. He’s worked on his three’s and is a credible threat but far from deadly out there. He’s a flexible player, but he’s also smart and willing, so I expect to see him quite a bit and in those roles. My hope is he also brings some leadership to the locker room.

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Ryan Schwan http://www.hornets247.com <![CDATA[In the NO Ep. 302: Shh, we’re being Positive]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56300 2018-01-16T06:09:54Z 2018-01-16T06:06:47Z Michael declares he’s going to do the entire podcast talking positively about Pelicans.  He doesn’t pitch a perfect game, but comes close, at least. We talk Rondo and his fluctuating role and minutes, is Jrue an All-Star, who is the team Alpha Dog, and we cover the games of the 3-1 week.  Look, a winning […]]]>

Michael declares he’s going to do the entire podcast talking positively about Pelicans.  He doesn’t pitch a perfect game, but comes close, at least.

We talk Rondo and his fluctuating role and minutes, is Jrue an All-Star, who is the team Alpha Dog, and we cover the games of the 3-1 week.  Look, a winning week!

Like the Show or the Blog?

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Kumar <![CDATA[Monday Scoop]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56297 2018-01-15T16:46:41Z 2018-01-15T16:46:41Z Are you satisfied with the starting lineup?   Ginsberg: It’s fine because of the great offense, but the Pelicans should not be satisfied with fine during a season as important as this one. The defense is a total train wreck that fails to maximize certain players’ strengths on that end – specifically Moore. He’s a […]]]>

Are you satisfied with the starting lineup?

 

Ginsberg: It’s fine because of the great offense, but the Pelicans should not be satisfied with fine during a season as important as this one. The defense is a total train wreck that fails to maximize certain players’ strengths on that end – specifically Moore. He’s a decent defender when matched up with players his size, but he has struggled being asked to take on the role of starting 3. The scheme problems that come with playing three 6’4” or shorter players next to two 6’10” or taller players are apparent on a nightly basis, and that doesn’t even take into account the awful transition defense.

 

McNamara: Offensively, yes. Defensively, heck no. There should be enough there to be at least middle of the pack overall and top 3-5 in ending possessions with rebounds. But the effort and focus disgusts me.

 

42: Given Hill’s absence, sure. I look for him to start upon his return or after a short tune-up period. I don’t want to hear any lip about disruptions or whatnot. I am also more worried about finishing, which is also about as good as it gets. It not getting good enough, start or finish, is not a lineup choice issue.

 

Kumar: I was among those who thought that we absolutely needed to start Moore when Rondo returned from injury. Offensively, Moore has been a treat to watch. But as others have said, defensively we have been abysmal. Starting 3 negative defenders is not the recipe for success and has contributed the Pelicans starting the 1st and 3rd quarters slowly. I’m not happy with it and I think we need change.

 

Grayson: From a pure entertainment perspective, I am satisfied. As the guys have mentioned before, offensively it’s a very strong group. They shoot the ball well, pass to one another and put up a lot of points. But defensively they’re not very good, but to be fair a lot of the Pelicans lineups haven’t been good defensively.

 

If you could make one substitution among who starts, which players would you swap?

 

MG: Miller for Moore makes the most sense to me. Miller isn’t a great defender, but he isn’t terrible either, and his added size should help the defense on multiple fronts. Miller has also showed that he can do more than just shoot offensively, so you’re probably not losing much on that end. It also allows Moore to take on more of the back-court duties in other lineups, limiting the need for Jameer Nelson, who has been pretty bad ever since Rondo came back. I would be in favor of making Rondo the first sub out of the game and let him spend some of his minutes with the second unit, or just anyone besides Cousins. As far as closing lineup, Jrue-Moore-Miller-AD-Cousins makes a lot of sense.

 

McNamara: Boogie out, Otto Porter in. Is that allowed? If have to go with current roster, then take out Moore and put in Miller. It gives the Pelicans a little more size and also gives the bench some more firepower.

 

42: If it was me calling the shots, Boogie wouldn’t start. Davis would, then Boogie would come in for him. They’d finish the 2nd and 4th together, each playing about 36 mpg. Asik would get the start with a short. Put the low usage guy to work for some defense, rebounding, and any film that might help a trade. Put Hill in when he returns. The team can not do this, however.

 

Kumar: I think we should bench Rondo and start Miller. This does a few things. 1) This adds size on the wing and allows Moore to slide over to his natural position defensively. 2) This separates the disastrous Cousins and Rondo pairing allowing both of them to continue to excel without each other. 3) Finally, moving Rondo to the bench allows him to absorb almost all of Jameer’s minutes.Win win here.

 

Grayson: I honestly think that the starting lineup is fine as it is until Solomon Hill comes back. This team needs more defense, they also need more effort guys. They need it mainly from Davis and Boogie so you can’t exactly swap them out. Hill is such a perfect antithesis for what this team currently is. Can’t shoot, plays defense, plays hard and gives you his all. While you could swap Miller for Moore/Rondo I don’t think it makes too much of an overall difference. At least with Hill back in the lineup it gives you something tangibly different.

 

Where does Solomon Hill fit into our rotation?

 

MG: Starting SF as soon as he is capable of taking on the role. The only way I could see it playing out differently is if the Pelicans do decide to insert Miller as the starting SF instead of Moore and the team just takes off as a result. Unlikely, but if it somehow takes the defense to average or better as a result, it will be hard to disrupt that success by replacing Miller with Hill. Additionally, I would be very interested in seeing how a Jrue-Moore-Miller-Hill-Davis lineup would look, or even Rondo-Jrue-Moore/Miller-Hill-Davis.

 

McNamara: Hard to say until we know what version of him comes back. But let’s say it’s the same guys who finished the season – then, he should start instead of Moore and he should also get all of Dante’s backup PF minutes. He will take a handful of minutes from Miller, Moore, and AD, but the majority of his minutes will come from taking ALL of Dante’s minutes.

 

42: Starting and finishing small forward in many instances, backup big. Low usage guy to add some defense, rebounding, light scoring in a garbage man type role.

 

Kumar: I don’t think the Pelicans can reasonably throw him into the starting lineup immediately. I also don’t think you can play Solomon and Rondo together at the same time. Long term, I do think that Solomon should be the starter at the 3 spot, but until he eases his way back into shape, I think Solomon should come off the bench and absorb all available wing minutes and some of Dante’s minutes at the 4. I also think Solomon returning should help reduce some of Jrue’s current workload. Jrue has been our best perimeter defender by far and that has earned him the most minutes on the team. Getting Hill back should allow the coaching staff to rest Jrue a little more without worrying about the defense totally falling off a cliff.

 

Grayson: He’s a better version of old-Tony Allen. Maybe with a little bit more shooting prowess. The Pelicans defense took many steps forward when Hill came into town. New Orleans ranked 27th in Defensive Rating in 2015-16 and that jumped to 9th the following year. Now, it’s not all down to him, but a large portion of it is. Both he and Holiday on the floor do a good job of containing the ball, playing solid weakside defense and most importantly have a good understanding of defensive schemes and how to execute and communicate them when on the court. He should be starting so a lineup of Cousins-Davis-Hill-Holiday-Rondo seems feasible. Some may think that the shooting isn’t great, which it isn’t. However, with Boogie jacking up every 3 in sight and Holiday there to space the floor I think there’s enough. They just would have to adjust, get down and dirty, attack the hoop make cuts off the ball etc.

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Kumar <![CDATA[A Deep Dive into Rotations]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56277 2018-01-12T22:39:38Z 2018-01-12T20:11:49Z The Bourbon Street Shots crew did a deep review of lineup data in an effort to tackle the Pelicans’s inconsistency issues. We can’t control effort and motivation, but we damn sure can look at our spreadsheets and figure out who clicks with who. And that’s exactly what we did. Below is a tag team effort […]]]>

The Bourbon Street Shots crew did a deep review of lineup data in an effort to tackle the Pelicans’s inconsistency issues. We can’t control effort and motivation, but we damn sure can look at our spreadsheets and figure out who clicks with who. And that’s exactly what we did. Below is a tag team effort on the part of myself (Kumar) and our newest writer, Patrick Fenerty (@PhilJFry5). So let’s get started shall we?

How Much Has Rondo Really Been A Factor?

Kumar: The current Pelicans starting lineup is struggling. Rondo, Holiday, Moore, Davis, and Cousins have a net rating of -0.2 since the Pelicans started kicking off games with this crew. Yes, the offense has been elite, and it’s easy to point to Rondo being the turning point, but the Pelicans’s starting lineup is hemorrhaging 108.2 points per 100 possessions on the defensive end too. With negative defenders in Rondo and Cousins bookending the defense and a 6’3” E’twuan Moore fighting for his life at small forward, the Pelicans have the defensive constitution of a house of cards. Sneeze, and it collapses.

Logging 292 minutes, this lineup has now become the most played lineup in the Gentry era. But is it worth holding onto? Is Rondo really helping the offense? Let’s take a look at the following piece of data.

This is a chart showing how each player has impacted the Pelicans’s offensive rating since Rondo shed his minutes restriction on 11/18, sorted by minutes played. There are a few things going on here.

  1. The Pelicans have been slightly better on offense when Rondo is off the floor. While the difference between 109.8 and 110.9 is minimal at best, this is mildly surprising. Raw net ratings can be noisy and the eyetest strongly suggests that the Pelicans look great on offense with Rondo at the helm. And that’s true! An offensive rating of 109.8 is good for 6th in the league currently and is an extremely good offense. But the data seems to be saying the Pelicans also have an elite offense without Rondo. This leads us to our next point.
  2. The vast majority of the players are not impacting the offense strongly one way or the other. The offense is relatively stable no matter who is on the floor, and relatively elite throughout. We see a smattering of negatives and positives but almost all of them are small numbers. Outside of Jrue, the offensive scale ranges from slightly elite to more elite. This is extremely surprising and should be a testament to the system the staff has put together. You know it’s a good system when single players aren’t derailing the productivity of the team. Which brings us to our final point.
  3. The offense dies without Jrue Holiday. He is the only player the Pelicans can’t seem to survive without. Davis has Cousins to back him up, Rondo has Nelson, and Moore alternates with Miller – all comparable pieces in the rotation given their roles. There is no substitute for Jrue, and probably a large reason why he leads the team in minutes played

The Defense Needs Fixing Too

So the offense is remarkably stable and good with or without Rondo, this is good. However the defense is bleeding points. Who are the major culprits?

Like the chart above, this is a chart showing each player has impacted the Pelicans’s defensive rating since Rondo was shifted into the starting lineup full-time sorted by minutes played. I took the liberty to highlight the three biggest culprits of a remarkably poor defense. Rondo and Cousins were perhaps expected, with the Pelicans’s defense being around 6 points per 100 possessions better when either of them are OFF the floor. The Pelicans being 12.4 points better when Moore sits is not only surprising, but absolutely killing the team. Moore is in the midst of his best offensive season ever and has been a consistent offensive weapon for the Pelicans, but the poor guy is in survival mode on the defensive end. Something has to change, the Pelicans cannot continue to have their most used lineup include 3 vulnerabilities on the defensive end.  

The Pelicans Are Not Starting Halves Well

The beginning of the first and third quarters are typically when both teams’ starters are on the floor. Since Rondo was inserted in the starting lineup, I want you to look below at the net ratings of each Pelicans player in the first and third quarters.

At first glance, the starters outside Jrue are negative, and the bench is positive. In the third quarter it is more of the same save for Davis also going into the strong positives. I’ve written about how Davis centric lineups crush it, but there has to be a better way to optimize the rotations. To understand this, we need to understand the substitution patterns. Here is a visualization of the current rotation since Rondo was inserted into the starting lineup courtesy of Patrick. I’m going to lob it up to him help explain what we are looking at and what is possibly going on with the rotations. Take it away, Patrick.

Open in new tab for the larger version

Rotations

Patrick: To try to understand the Pelicans rotations, I’m only going to look at games after Rondo came back and started playing full minutes (starting November 17th). The rotations graphic also excludes games where Anthony Davis missed time with injury.

The first 3 quarters of the Pelicans rotations look pretty consistent. To start the game, the five starters will play together for the first 6 or 7 minutes of the game, and then Alvin Gentry will make his first subs. As Kumar pointed out, the start to the halves when all 5 of those starters are in hasn’t been great. Since Rondo started playing a full allotment of minutes, the starting 5 has logged around 15 minutes per game together, and outscored the opponent by 1 point per game. So while they aren’t an outright negative, they aren’t establishing much of a lead either.

With the first substitutions Gentry brings in Jameer Nelson, Dante Cunningham, and Darius Miller. That trio has played 10.9 minutes per game together, outscoring opponents by 2.9 points per game in that time. On the surface, these units look to be doing better than the starters. The likely reasons for this are 1) opponents are also taking their starters out of the game at this point and 2) those 3 are also still sharing the court with some pair of Cousins, Davis, and Holiday.

Nelson, Cunningham, and Miller are all low usage players, coming in at USG%’s of 15.7, 9.9, and 14.1 respectively. Combined they shoulder less of the offense than Cousins does by himself in these lineups. So while, the Pelicans do well once the bench comes in, it is more a function of their big 3 being aggressive and taking advantage of opponents’ second units than actual contributions from the bench players.

An Inconsistent 4th Quarter

As I mentioned earlier, the Pelicans rotations through the first 36 minutes of the game look consistent, but we can see Gentry has been more experimental in the 4th quarter and so far returns are not great.

One concern we’ve heard specifically from Gentry has been Rondo’s effect on the offense late in the game. With Rondo’s lack of shooting ability, opponents can go under picks and clog the lane. Gentry’s alternative was to insert Jameer Nelson at the point guard spot, but so far that has not had the intended effect on the offense. Interestingly enough though, both Rondo and Nelson have a negative on/off differential.

But consistent with the larger trend for the Pelicans, defense is where their problems really show. Their offense overall in the 4th still rates in the top 10, but their defensive rating at 112.5 is good for 27th in the NBA.

Davis is, unsurprisingly, the Pelican with the largest statistical effect on the defense in the fourth quart. The Pelicans have struggled even more than usual when he missed time. The Pelicans five worst fourth quarter defensive ratings in this stretch were against Denver, Houston, Golden State, Utah, and Memphis; all games Davis missed the fourth quarter, all losses. The first three we can attribute to the opponents, but even without AD the Pels should be able to manage a defensive rating under 130 in crunch time against Utah and Memphis.

Conclusion

Kumar: There is a lot going here and we just threw a lot of charts and numbers at you. The bottom line is this, the Pelicans current substitution patterns are less than ideal. This begins with the starting lineup, which has been mediocre at best, and ends in the 4th quarter where there seems to be no solidified rotation. I think it’s high time the coaching staff ditched the current group of starters in favor of a lineup that will contribute more on the defensive end. Nailing down the right group of starters and solidifying the 4th quarter rotation should ideally help the Pelicans get out of this .500 funk. There are many promising combinations in this group of players, it’s now on the staff to find the right ones.

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Ryan Schwan http://www.hornets247.com <![CDATA[In the NO Pod Ep 301: The Key Stretch]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56274 2018-01-08T04:40:40Z 2018-01-08T04:40:40Z Michael and I tear up Boogie. Then we tear him up some more. Then we tear up Rondo. Then we tear up AD. I guess the Pelicans-Timberwolves game affected us strongly. We talk about trades, and what the team should target, and then we look ahead at a very key stretch for the team. If […]]]>

Michael and I tear up Boogie. Then we tear him up some more. Then we tear up Rondo. Then we tear up AD. I guess the Pelicans-Timberwolves game affected us strongly. We talk about trades, and what the team should target, and then we look ahead at a very key stretch for the team. If this team is better than a .500 squad, they will prove it over the next 2 months.

Enjoy!

Like the Show or the Blog?

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Ryan Schwan http://www.hornets247.com <![CDATA[In the NO Pod Ep 300: Looking for an Identity]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56271 2018-01-02T05:48:22Z 2018-01-02T05:47:59Z Michael and I talk about the Pelicans and their missing identity at the end of games, including in those bad losses in New Orleans.  On the way, we talk about things that surprised us so far this season, I grumble about Rondo, and we give Moore some love.  We look ahead to next week, of […]]]>

Michael and I talk about the Pelicans and their missing identity at the end of games, including in those bad losses in New Orleans.  On the way, we talk about things that surprised us so far this season, I grumble about Rondo, and we give Moore some love.  We look ahead to next week, of course, and then talk Star Wars.

Enjoy!

Like the Show or the Blog?

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Mason Ginsberg http://www.hornets247.com/tag/Mason-Ginsberg/ <![CDATA[Film Study: Pelicans’ Transition Defense]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56251 2017-12-29T19:47:04Z 2017-12-29T18:00:32Z Earlier this month, I shared the biggest issue holding the Pelicans back from competent defensive metrics: their transition defense, specifically after missed shots. However, that article only covered the “what”, not the “why.” So why are the Pelicans having so much trouble stopping opponents from scoring after their own missed shots? Speculation based on eye […]]]>

Earlier this month, I shared the biggest issue holding the Pelicans back from competent defensive metrics: their transition defense, specifically after missed shots. However, that article only covered the “what”, not the “why.” So why are the Pelicans having so much trouble stopping opponents from scoring after their own missed shots? Speculation based on eye tests is an okay start, but the most effective way to learn about something like this is through watching the film. By leveraging Cleaning the Glass’ excellent database of stats, I was able to identify a few of the Pels’ worst performances in this phase of the game. I then moved to NBA.com’s stats portal to look at the film from these games (linked at the bottom of this column). In particular, I looked at every possession that moved from an opponent defensive rebound to an opponent score in ~7 seconds or less.

The Data Set

The games that I reviewed are the following four (identified in the below table): 10/22 @ LA Lakers, 11/15 vs. Toronto, 12/10 vs. Philadelphia, & 12/11 @ Houston.

At the bottom of this column, you can find a detailed breakdown of every relevant play that I identified. For those hoping to find a quicker summary of the findings, I broke play results down into 4 categories as shown below:

Summary of Findings

  1. DeRozan and Harden are beasts in transition. I know, major finding, right? But when you look at the film, the difference between opponents like Toronto & Houston vs. Philly and Los Angeles is clear – the former two teams have initiatiors that know how to cause a ton of trouble for opponents. Having all 5 players back on the defensive end of the floor is not enough; you better be set in the right place or else players like these (and even Ben Simmons to a degree already) will make you pay.
  2. The vast majority of the Pelicans’ transition mistakes are either effort related or poor decision-making. Rebound location or offensive positioning tend to be hot topics as it relates to transition defense, which is understandable. After reviewing the film of these four games, however, these points appear to be less important than may be expected. Yes, there were a couple of plays where long rebounds helped to jump-start the opponents’ offense, and there was a score or two on plays when the Pels had 2 players camped out in the corners until the shot went up. But review the film below for yourself – across all of these scenarios, the underlying problem is overwhelmingly due to either poor effort or mental mistakes. For example, there is no reason for a Pelicans player to hang in the corner until a rebound is corralled – he should be moving as soon as the shot goes up. By doing so, it would be exceedingly difficult to get beat down the floor no matter where you’re standing. The combination of a long rebound around the free throw line along with two players in either corner could definitely result in easy points for the opponent, but such circumstances are few and far between. Make the effort and don’t take stupid gambles, and you’ll solve a lot of problems.
  3. The Pelicans’ big men are typically more to blame than the guards or wings. No one expects Cousins or Davis to be the first players down the floor on defense, particularly given their frequent proximity to the rim on offense. But as far as transition scoring goes, it is not uncommon to see them (Boogie more so than AD) either lag back due to ref complaints or ill-advised steal attempts, or fail to close out on opposing big men who aren’t afraid to let it fly from deep. That being said, the low probability back court steal attempts or weak closeouts are certainly not limited to just those two, as the film below shows.

Ultimately, better effort and better decision-making would fix the majority of the Pelicans’ existing defensive issues in transition – in fact, we have already seen the team improve in these areas over the past few games. Sometimes, you’ll run up against elite creators like DeRozan and Harden who are going to make life difficult regardless, but most of the time, if the Pelicans can stay disciplined and maintain good effort, then better results will follow.

Appendix: Detailed Video Breakdown

Pelicans @ Lakers

  1. Long rebound, Lonzo bull-rushes Jameer, who tries to take a charge; block is called
    http://on.nba.com/2Ch4n2l
  2. AD slow to get back after missed shot + Ian Clark whiffs on back court steal attempt. Defense out of position, corner 3 + foul
    http://on.nba.com/2CiV95G
  3. AD gets tied up with Ingram & falls on rebound attempt of Boogie 3, KCP shoots midrange PUJIT over Boogie. Bad luck
    http://on.nba.com/2Ck3eHg
  4. Moore misses corner 3, then jogs slowly back up court as KCP beats the rest of the D for a layup partially thanks to good spacing by Kuzma in the corner
    http://on.nba.com/2CkgOL3
  5. Boogie going for steal in back court causes confusion among defensive assignments, allowing Clarkson to get free for a 3
    http://on.nba.com/2CjoU6I
  6. AD misses a 3 at the top of the key & gets back in time, but just sags too far off of Hart
    http://on.nba.com/2ClYqBu
  7. Boogie misses a 3 at the top of the key & everyone but Jrue stands around to watch for too long while the Lakers start running. Easy transition layup for Randle.
    http://on.nba.com/2CjAleo

Pelicans vs. Raptors

  1. Pels get back in transition well enough, but a good screen from Poeltl & great playmaking by DeRozan trump them.
    http://on.nba.com/2DsM8Gy
  2. Same as above re: DeRozan. Just great at getting the defense out of sorts in transition. Creates a wide open mid-range look for Valanciunas.
    http://on.nba.com/2DscWXt
  3. Siakam gets the board inside after a Cunningham wing 3 miss, pushes up the floor, and creates space for a Lowry 3. Again, reasonable transition defense, just a better offensive play.
    http://on.nba.com/2mtWhPL
  4. Lack of communication here. DeRozan and Diallo are the last two down the floor after Diallo fights hard but unsuccessfully for the offensive board, but DeRozan gets the pass with a full head of steam and no one stops him.
    http://on.nba.com/2DuJhgf
  5. Fight at the rim for the board with a bunch of players clustered in the restricted area, but the ball pops out to DeRozan who dumps it to CJ Miles for a wide open 3.
    http://on.nba.com/2DuJIqT
  6. The second that Valanciunas grabs the board, Ibaka (who was closing out on Nelson’s 3-point shot) sprints down court and gets great inside position on Jameer. Ibaka kicks it back out to VanFleet who finds Lowry for an open 3. Again, Toronto just knows where to be in transition.
    http://on.nba.com/2DtB0cN

Pelicans vs. 76ers

  1. Made 3 – Davis doesn’t close out well enough on Saric
    http://on.nba.com/2l0zozh
  2. Made layup – just a great play by Simmons
    http://on.nba.com/2kXZlzP
  3. Made FTs – again, great job of forcing issue by Simmons before defense is set
    http://on.nba.com/2l1RscG
  4. Made layup – Boogie thinks he gets fouled and doesn’t get back on defense in transition
    http://on.nba.com/2kZ7Ave
  5. Made FTs – Boogie’s bad steal attempt at the opposite FT line leads to FTs on the other end for Booker
    http://on.nba.com/2kZ9oo0
    BONUS – Boogie not giving a damn about boxing out
    http://on.nba.com/2kYyPGl
  6. Redick 3 – bad luck on this possession. Good transition defense overall, but AD gets caught ball-watching and gives up an offensive rebound, resulting in a deep 3 from Redick (Rondo could have closed out better, but it was a DEEP 3)
    http://on.nba.com/2kYYe2x
  7. And-1 – AD yells about a no-call and hangs the rest of the defense out to dry, leading to an and-one for Booker
    http://on.nba.com/2kXJq4k

Pelicans @ Rockets

  1. Long rebound after a missed wing 3 by Miller, Harden finds Ryno for a very deep 3 before Miller can get to him on a closeout
    http://on.nba.com/2CkHLOH
  2. Defense gets back in time, but Gordon takes advantage of a Jalen Jones slip & fall to hit a PU3IT. Jones kind of coasts back down the court before the shot as well.
    http://on.nba.com/2Ck9q21
  3. This one appears to be on a combo of Moore and Miller. They both leave Rondo out to dry on the strong side of the court, leaving Rondo to figure out how to cover both Tucker and Ariza. He ends up fouling Ariza on a made 3.
    http://on.nba.com/2CnKB5s
  4. Miller misses a quick open 3 at the top of the key, Harden grabs the board and goes coast to coast. Holiday tracks back with Harden, but is in no position to defend his drive, and Harden beats Asik for an easy layup.
    http://on.nba.com/2Cm6W3a
  5. Holiday goes over a Nene screen for Harden, who scores over decent defense from Cousins. Harden is good.
    http://on.nba.com/2CkJS55
  6. Gordon gets the rebound and pushes the ball up then dumps it to Tucker, causing defensive confusion. Asik stops Tucker’s drive, but he squeezes a bounce pass into Nene, who scores. Decent defense, better play.
    http://on.nba.com/2CoUL5W
  7. Chris Paul isn’t fair. Gets the rebound, dribbles up court, and hits a 3 as time expires in the 3rd over Jalen Jones, though Jones should have recognized the clock running to 0 and closed out a bit better.
    http://on.nba.com/2CpcNVx
  8. E’Twaun Moore falls asleep and gives up an open wing 3 to CP3.
    http://on.nba.com/2Cnx4uO
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Mason Ginsberg http://www.hornets247.com/tag/Mason-Ginsberg/ <![CDATA[The Pelicans’ Defense: Lost in Transition]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56247 2017-12-21T15:25:03Z 2017-12-20T22:00:24Z It is no secret that the Pelicans have really struggled in preventing opponents from scoring this season, but simply stating that fact gets us no closer to figuring out why. The team’s high turnover rate obviously plays a part, but there is more going on here – thanks to some new stats coming from CleaningTheGlass.com, […]]]>

It is no secret that the Pelicans have really struggled in preventing opponents from scoring this season, but simply stating that fact gets us no closer to figuring out why. The team’s high turnover rate obviously plays a part, but there is more going on here – thanks to some new stats coming from CleaningTheGlass.com, we can learn more about what that is.

First, let’s start with what is NOT the problem – the half court defense. Currently, the Pelicans allow 93.6 points per 100 possessions in this phase, which is ever so slightly worse than league average. Could it be better? Sure, but given the fact that the starting lineup is pretty undersized on the perimeter and that the big men struggle to close out on open shooters, getting into the top 10 before Solomon Hill and his defensive versatility returns may not be especially realistic. If there is any area regarding half court defense that the team could improve, it’s through preventing offensive rebounds. New Orleans rates slightly above league average in this area, but given their personnel, one could argue that “slightly above average” shouldn’t cut it.

So, what IS the problem? Succinctly put, it’s the team’s inability to force opponents into their half court offense more often. Only 79.4% of opponent offensive possessions occur through half court offense, good for a bottom-10 ranking in the league. The obvious catalyst is that the Pelicans rank 26th in the NBA in turnover rate and they’re also slightly below average in stopping opponents from scoring once they do cough the ball up.

The issue that really pushes this defense over the edge, however, is actually transition points allowed after simple missed shots on offense. 31.6% of opponent live ball rebounds after Pelicans’ misses result in transition opportunities – 23rd in the league – but the truly damning stat is that the Pelicans are worst in the league by FAR in defending transition opportunities after their own missed shots. New Orleans allows 129.2 points per 100 possessions on such plays – for comparison’s sake, the Kings are second to last & still allow over 4 points per 100 possessions fewer (124.9) than the Pels (the median rate is around 115).

The moral of the story – while turnovers are no doubt a problem, the biggest underlying issue is the team’s general approach towards transition D. The Pelicans’ inability to both prevent opponents from getting out in transition or stop opponents from scoring on those opportunities has dropped this defense from close to league average to one that is now bottom-5 in the league statistically.

 

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Kumar <![CDATA[An Intro to Shot Selection]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56237 2017-12-20T15:39:25Z 2017-12-20T15:39:25Z Introduction This is a cursory post on shot selection. Many of you may already be familiar with concepts explained below, so bear with me. For those who aren’t, this post aims to contextualize the value of 3 point shots. A lot of people wonder why our star big men have moved further away from the […]]]>

Introduction

This is a cursory post on shot selection. Many of you may already be familiar with concepts explained below, so bear with me. For those who aren’t, this post aims to contextualize the value of 3 point shots. A lot of people wonder why our star big men have moved further away from the paint and even players like Dante Cunningham are seeing most of their shots behind the arc. The goal of this is post is explain why this is happening and why the league as a whole is trending this way. I know it’s easy to pin these actions on a coaching staff, however I want to explain the math behind this methodology. There are actual mathematical reasons behind why the league continues to fire away behind the arc. First a look at two hypothetical teams, then a look at how this relates to the Pelicans.

Mid-range Shots and Shot Selection

I think the best way to examine this topic is to imagine two perfectly identical teams, team A and team B. Let’s pretend that both teams shoot the exact same percentage from each spot on the field. Both teams shoot 50% at the rim, 40% from mid range, and 35% from three. When team A and team B play each other, both take 100 shots. The only difference between the two teams is how many shots they shoot from each spot. For simplicity let’s pretend the breakdown is like this:

This would lead to the following point totals

Team A ends up scoring 95 points. Team B ends up scoring 100 points.  Both shot the exact same percent from all spots on the field, but Team B wins the game. Why? They took more shots that had a higher points per shot value. 35% from three is worth 1.05 points for every shot you take. 40% from mid-range is worth 0.80 points for every shot you take. So it makes sense to want more threes in general.

Here is a fun example. Same situation as above, but what if Team B only took 1 more three than team A?

Team B still beats Team A 95.25 to 95! I know what you are thinking, you can’t score 95.25 points in a real game and that’s true. But over the course of a season, those percentages add up.

How does this apply to the Pelicans?

Last year the Pelicans shot 1,618 mid-range shots, that’s about 19.7 per game. They hit them at about 39% which ranked 18th in the league. The best team (Warriors) shot 44.4%. They only took 17.6. Let’s ignore them for a second and focus on the Pelicans. They shot 35% overall from three last year. At a glance there was only a 4% difference between us taking mid-range shots and us taking threes. But the per shot difference comes out to 0.78 points per shot vs 1.05 points per shot. Per 100 shots that’s 78 vs 105. No contest on what gives you the better return. Let’s go back to the Warriors for a second. A team with the best shooters in the world only hit 44.4% of their mid range shots. That’s still only 88.8 points per 100 vs 105.

Here is where it gets really crazy. The Pels took 235 threes last year that were defined as having “Tight” defense. They made 28.5% of those threes. Per shot that comes out to 0.855. That means even their contested threes last year were worth more than their average mid-range shot! And it was almost worth the same as a Warriors mid-range shot! Crazy.

This year the Pelicans are taking 12.8 mid-range shots per game, roughly 7 less per game. On the surface this is a big change. But if you think about as AD taking two less from about 8 per game to about 6 per game, and Jrue, Dante, Solomon, DeMarcus, E’twuan all only taking one less mid-range shot per game, it’s easy to get to that 7 less total number. And I don’t think taking 7 less mid-range shots means you have to replace those shots with threes. You could totally replace those shots with shots at the rim. AD  and Jrue are taking almost a career high percentage shots at the rim this year and are having their most efficient years to date. Over the course of the year 7 shots per game is 574 shots, which is a lot of shots. To take the extreme example, if you replaced those 574 mid-range shots with contested threes which you made at 28.5%, you would score almost 43 more points! Obviously you’d want to replace those with much better shots than contested threes, but I think this conveys the point.

On a related note, the Pelicans offense is currently ranked 7th in the league and scoring about 4 more points/100 possessions from last year.

My Personal Thoughts

I don’t think less twos means more threes. I think less twos means more shots in the paint or rim and more threes, whichever is easiest and more suitable for your team. For our team I think it means more shots in the paint and rim, but if the situation occurs where one of our poor shooters has to shoot, it’s better they shoot a three. It’s all about maximizing expected points per shot. Now I don’t fully buy into the Houston style “eliminate” all mid-range twos offense totally. I think having the ability to do that is necessary because good teams will try to take away good shots. You need to make them pay for trying to limit your efficiency. It keeps the defense honest and adds needed variation to offense. This is important in the playoffs especially I think. And lastly, when the game is on the line, expected outcomes go out the window in my opinion. If the game is tied and you need a bucket, you take the shot that has a higher percent chance of going in. 40% > 34%. But for the other 99 possessions of the game and the thousands over the season, you need the maximize what you are getting out of your offense. Easiest way to do that is to cut out the item that gives you least amount of return.

 


 

 

 

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Ryan Schwan http://www.hornets247.com <![CDATA[In the NO Podcast EP 299: WLWLWLWLWL…]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56233 2017-12-18T05:42:01Z 2017-12-18T05:42:01Z Mike and I address the Pelicans’ frustrating losses and how it seems this team beats itself more than the other team does. I wonder at why New Orleans fans are so upset about a 15-15 team when the expectation going into the season was a .500 team, and then we talk Boogie and his issues […]]]>

Mike and I address the Pelicans’ frustrating losses and how it seems this team beats itself more than the other team does. I wonder at why New Orleans fans are so upset about a 15-15 team when the expectation going into the season was a .500 team, and then we talk Boogie and his issues a little. We celebrate the crazy shooting, talk about the defense possibly getting better, and wonder at the morphing offense in the fourth quarter compared to the rest of the game.

Enjoy!

Like the Show or the Blog?

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Mason Ginsberg http://www.hornets247.com/tag/Mason-Ginsberg/ <![CDATA[Can the Pelicans’ Hot 3-Point Shooting Continue?]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56226 2017-12-14T21:41:56Z 2017-12-14T21:36:08Z Thanks to an incredible recent surge, the Pelicans are up to 6th in the NBA in 3-point percentage (38%) while putting up about the league average number of attempts on a per-48 minute basis (29.6). Leading the charge are wing players E’Twaun Moore and Darius Miller who are shooting a combined 47% (!) on the […]]]>

Thanks to an incredible recent surge, the Pelicans are up to 6th in the NBA in 3-point percentage (38%) while putting up about the league average number of attempts on a per-48 minute basis (29.6). Leading the charge are wing players E’Twaun Moore and Darius Miller who are shooting a combined 47% (!) on the 3rd and 4th most attempts (122 & 118) on the team. Moore is a career 38.5% 3-point shooter and Miller is hovering just over 40% (on just 256 attempts, mind you). Whether achieved due to luck or actual improvement (likely a combination of both), are their current rates sustainable? No, probably not. Does that mean the Pelicans as a team are due for a major regression? In my opinion, maybe a bit, but not as drastic as some may fear.

To better understand all of the context that surrounds the Pelicans’ 3-point shooting ability, it is important to look not just at deviation from the mean, but also volume. For example, Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo are shooting 36% and 37% respectively from long range this season, well above their career averages. However, in total this season, they have made 28 out of 77 attempts. Had they each missed just two more shots than they have so far, their combined 3P% drops to 31%, which most would consider to be quite poor and also more in line with their career numbers. Long story short – these two probably aren’t moving the needle much on the Pelicans’ overall 3-point shooting success, even after accounting for the fact that Rondo missed the first month of the season (AD shoots around 2 per game, Rondo shoots about 3 per game).

On the flip side, there is Jrue Holiday, a 36.2% career 3-point shooter who is only making them at a career low 31.9% clip this season. Holiday has attempted the 2nd most threes on the team (141), almost twice as many as Davis and Rondo combined. Point being that a return to the norm for Holiday would be more impactful to the team’s overall shooting numbers than a regression from both Davis and Rondo combined.

A couple other caveats to mention:

  • The “Boogie-Brow” effect. Moore & Miller having career years from distance isn’t an accident. For example, over 90% of Moore’s 3-point attempts have been either “open” or “wide open” according to NBA.com’s stats tool, a career high that is up from about 80% last season. Miller is also at over 90%, up from 78% in his last full NBA season (2013-14). Again – yes, both will regress, but there are enough data points out there to suggest the strong overall shooting will continue. Additionally, an incredible 98% of Holiday’s threes have been either open or wide open, giving even more reason to believe that his numbers should improve with time. As a team, 94.4% of the Pelicans’ 3-point attempts have been either open or wide open; for reference, most teams hover around 88-90%.
  • League-wide 3-point trend. It is also important to remember the fact that for some big men, the thought of working on 3-point shooting didn’t even register as a priority until the last few years. Admittedly, I have criticized Cousins’ 3-point shooting numbers before, but the reality is that he totaled 69 3PA over his first 5 seasons, then attempted 210 and 363 in the next two, and is on pace for over 400 this season. For players like himself, Davis, and Cunningham, it stands to reason that their career 3-point percentages are a slightly understated representation of their actual shooting ability.

At season’s end, I expect the Pelicans to finish with a team 3-point percentage between 36% & 37%, with a decent chance of finishing with a top-10 rate in the NBA. For comparison’s sake, the median NBA 3P% is currently 36.3%. Given all of the concerns shared by some regarding the lack of perimeter shooting on the roster surrounding Davis and Cousins, it would be difficult not to consider such results a success.

See things differently? Have questions? Let us know on Twitter or on our Facebook page!

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Mason Ginsberg http://www.hornets247.com/tag/Mason-Ginsberg/ <![CDATA[Rajon Rondo and the Pelicans’ Struggling Defense]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56207 2017-12-13T12:50:29Z 2017-12-13T00:14:54Z Whether you want to use the “eye test” or the actual numbers, it is clear that the Pelicans have benefitted from Rajon Rondo’s presence on the offensive end of the court. The team’s offensive rating with Rondo on the floor is 6 points per 100 possessions better than when he is on the bench (106.1 […]]]>

Whether you want to use the “eye test” or the actual numbers, it is clear that the Pelicans have benefitted from Rajon Rondo’s presence on the offensive end of the court. The team’s offensive rating with Rondo on the floor is 6 points per 100 possessions better than when he is on the bench (106.1 vs. 112.1, which is the difference between a slightly above average offense and one that is better than every team except for the Rockets and Warriors this season).

Yet, the Pelicans’ defensive rating with Rondo on the floor is 116.1, a putrid mark which would easily result in the worst defense in the league over the course of the season. Over the past couple of seasons, Rondo’s teams were slightly worse defensively with him on the court vs. off, but nothing nearly as drastic as what we have seen so far this season. Which begs the question: why have New Orleans lineups that include Rondo allowed so many points? After digging into the data, three key factors arise.

Note: All stats below courtesy of NBA.com/stats.

  1. The Pelicans’ schedule ramped up significantly when Rondo got back. In games this season where Rondo has been out (including his first game back when he played under 5 minutes), their collective opponents’ average offensive rating is 103.5 through games on 12/11 (below average and approaching bottom-10). Opponents against whom Rondo has played, however, currently have an average offensive rating of 107.5 – easily a top-10 offensive number and close to top-5.
  2. Opponents are red hot from 3-point range. With Jameer Nelson on the floor, opponents are shooting 34.8% from distance, compared to 38.6% when he sits. Conversely, teams are shooting an incendiary 40.2% from long range against Rondo & only 35.7% when he sits. Is Nelson really that much better at guarding shooters than Rondo? Doubtful. But the Pels have run up against a lot of good shooters in opposing starting lineups since Rondo’s return, and it shows.
  3. Opponents are piling up the fast break points. The Pelicans turn the ball over less with Rondo on the floor (13.9% vs. 16.5% TOV rate), which leads to fewer easy buckets (15.8 vs. 18.7 points off of turnovers per 100 possessions). That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Pels have given up an astonishing 3 more fast break points per 100 possessions with Rondo on the court (18.8) vs. on the bench (11.5). Some additional thoughts on this particular stat:
    • The offense generates 3.6 fewer free throw attempts per 100 possessions with Rondo, but any fast break advantage gained in that respect should mostly net out since the Pelicans also score better in general with Rondo.
    • Rondo could direct more movement on offense that results in players ending up closer to the rim. Offensive rebounding numbers cast some doubt upon that theory (team OREB% is slightly lower with Rondo in vs. out), but there still could be some truth to it.

As a team, the Pelicans have been the worst in the NBA in stopping fast break points since Rondo got back, about 5 points per game worse than league average. While it would be foolish to place all of the blame on Rondo for this stat, it is nonetheless one that should be closely monitored moving forward.

Thoughts on why the numbers may look worse than what your eyes may be telling you? Or, conversely, do have you seen any activity specific to Rondo that has disproportionately hurt the Pelicans’ defense? Let us know on our Facebook page or on Twitter @BourbonStShots!

 

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Mason Ginsberg http://www.hornets247.com/tag/Mason-Ginsberg/ <![CDATA[Anthony Davis Considered “day-to-day” due to Adductor Strain]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56199 2017-12-04T17:54:04Z 2017-12-04T17:37:59Z The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that All-Star big man Anthony Davis will be considered “day-to-day” after suffering an adductor strain on Friday night in Utah. Obviously, this news is a major sigh of relief for the team, as many were concerned that the MRI results would show something far worse given Davis’ initial response […]]]>

The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that All-Star big man Anthony Davis will be considered “day-to-day” after suffering an adductor strain on Friday night in Utah. Obviously, this news is a major sigh of relief for the team, as many were concerned that the MRI results would show something far worse given Davis’ initial response to the injury. According to the team (via The Advocate’s Scott Kushner), Davis went through an initial MRI in Portland and then a follow-up MRI back in New Orleans. Both came back negative, so AD seems to have avoided a long-term injury.

In the meantime, expect the Pelicans to use a combination of Cunningham, Diallo, and Asik to cover for AD, likely with an even heavier emphasis on smaller lineups than they utilized previously. Another option may be the return of another injured player, Alexis Ajinca; while no information has been released about his status lately, Ajinca’s original recovery timeline (announced on October 20th) was 4-6 weeks, and he reached the 6-week mark this past Friday.

We’ll provide more thoughts on the update from the team as more information becomes available regarding when Davis will return to action, but as always, reach out to us on Twitter at @BourbonStShots with any commentary or questions (or exlamations of relief) of your own.

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Ryan Schwan http://www.hornets247.com <![CDATA[In the NO Podcast Ep. 298: Davis injured – what to do?]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56195 2017-12-04T05:01:03Z 2017-12-04T05:01:03Z It was a gut punch week for the New Orleans Pelicans, but the win against Portland was pretty sweet nonetheless. Michael and I speculate about Davis’ injury, what the team should do on the trade market or not depending on him being out, and guess at a timeline. Then we also talk Rondo’s contributions, Omer […]]]>

It was a gut punch week for the New Orleans Pelicans, but the win against Portland was pretty sweet nonetheless. Michael and I speculate about Davis’ injury, what the team should do on the trade market or not depending on him being out, and guess at a timeline. Then we also talk Rondo’s contributions, Omer Asik’s return, and what the Pelicans should have done with Donovan Mitchell.

Then we talk about an upcoming slate of winnable basketball games.

Enjoy!

Like the Show or the Blog?

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Jesse Brooks <![CDATA[From scrub to sub: Pelicans’ Darius Miller is a bench weapon]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56158 2017-11-30T18:26:02Z 2017-11-30T18:25:26Z As if he were the protagonist in an ancient epic, small Forward Darius Miller was released from the New Orleans Pelicans on November 30, 2014 and has now emerged as a top reserve player in his first season back with the team that let him go. Miller struggled to crack into the rotation in his […]]]>

As if he were the protagonist in an ancient epic, small Forward Darius Miller was released from the New Orleans Pelicans on November 30, 2014 and has now emerged as a top reserve player in his first season back with the team that let him go.
Miller struggled to crack into the rotation in his first two seasons in New Orleans, and often was unable to seize opportunities on the court. He averaged 2.3 ppg in 13.3 average mpg, and only saw his scoring increase to 4.4 ppg in his second season while playing an average of 16.1 minutes. At times, Miller looked incredibly indecisive on the offense end of the floor, leaving his NBA future in doubt.
After his release, Miller signed with Brose Bamberg of the German top-tier level Basketball Bundesliga and the Euroleague. It was during the course of this hero’s journey that Miller found his strength. In his two years in Europe, he averaged 10.9 ppg while shooting 40.8 percent from 3-pt. range and 52.2 percent from inside the arc. More specifically, Miller averaged 15.1 points per 36 minutes in those two seasons. Miller also ranked sixth best in 3-pt. percentage during the 2016-17 Euroleague season.
Miller’s Euroleague numbers indicated that he could a perfect candidate for a solid bench role for an NBA team willing to give some minutes.
Since returning to New Orleans, Miller overcame a rocky start to being absolute fire from the bench. Being patient with Miller has paid off for Alvin Gentry and the staff as he jumped up from shooting 14.3 percent from the field in October to around 60 percent in November. The improvement has many, including starting point guard Rajon Rondo, advocating his inclusion in the 3-pt. shooting contest come All-Star Weekend.

As Miller captures the heart of New Orleans, many fans are advocating a starter’s role for him. However, starting him would be to remove the Pelicans’ fiercest punch in the second unit when Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins or both have to leave the floor. What Miller’s shooting does is give the reserve offense a different complexion after opposing defenses have keyed into denying the paint and mid-range jumpers.
At age 35, it should not be backup point guard Jameer Nelson’s job to be the top scorer from the bench. With Nelson, his experience should be applied to being a game manager that can get the ball where it needs to be, plus some outside shooting on kick-outs. Having Miller in the second unit makes Nelson’s role a lot easier considering he is both a threat from deep, and has shown an ability to score off the dribble as well.
Recently we have seen the first unit either start slow and catch up for comeback wins, or build sizable first quarter leads that eventually fall apart. While fans may want to see a position balance in the starting unit, which is likely why there is a call for Miller, the true issue for lack of consistency is the turnover rate. This is an issue that Miller the starter would not alleviate. Cousins currently leads the league with 109 turnovers. If the Pels want to address the issue, working with Boogie would be a place to start.
For Miller, it is not unreasonable for him to have goals of winning the Most Improved Player Award or Sixth Man of the Year at this point. Since the Pelicans’ roster has been a work in progress even after the season began, there is room for change, but leader of the bench is where Miller belongs at this time.
For now, Pels fans may just want to enjoy that Miller has faced all challenges and flashes the promise of a strong career.

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Ryan Schwan http://www.hornets247.com <![CDATA[In the NO Pod Ep 297: Winning against good teams, the Boogie Experience]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56156 2017-11-28T05:45:02Z 2017-11-28T05:45:02Z In the NO returns and the New Orleans Pelicans are above .500 and just completed a 3-1 week! Michael and I talk about a few of the games, including the Raptors, Warriors, and Spurs, addressing issues we see like the interior defense, how Rondo has played, and who our favorite Pelican to watch is. We […]]]>

In the NO returns and the New Orleans Pelicans are above .500 and just completed a 3-1 week! Michael and I talk about a few of the games, including the Raptors, Warriors, and Spurs, addressing issues we see like the interior defense, how Rondo has played, and who our favorite Pelican to watch is.

We also show Miller some love, swear off beefy Jared Dudley, and address the idea of trading Boogie.

Enjoy!

Like the Show or the Blog?

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Mason Ginsberg http://www.hornets247.com/tag/Mason-Ginsberg/ <![CDATA[NOLA 3-Point Club to Hold Next Fundraiser Dinner on December 5th]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56149 2017-11-25T16:18:03Z 2017-11-25T16:13:41Z Disclosure: My father donates his time to this organization, serving on its board of directors. No one on the 3 Point Club’s Executive Committee or Board of Directors receive any kind of financial compensation for the work that they do for the organization, nor did Bourbon Street Shots for the publishing of this post. We simply like to take any […]]]>

Disclosure: My father donates his time to this organization, serving on its board of directors. No one on the 3 Point Club’s Executive Committee or Board of Directors receive any kind of financial compensation for the work that they do for the organization, nor did Bourbon Street Shots for the publishing of this post. We simply like to take any opportunity that we can to promote charitable activity such as those organized by the 3 Point Club.

The 3 Point Club of New Orleans will host its next fundraiser on December 5th at Metairie Country Club at 6:30 PM. In case you missed our first post explaining the Pelicans-themed philanthropic organization, here is the club’s President, Dr. Lance Turkish, explaining who they are and what they do:

The 3-Point Club is a community service organization, supporting the New Orleans Pelicans, the sport of basketball, and the New Orleans metro community. The club was formed in 2014 by a group of Pelicans fans with extensive experience in community service. Recognizing the importance of the New Orleans Pelicans to the community, they decided to create an organization to encourage fan support for the New Orleans Pelicans and promote philanthropic activity related to basketball. 

The 3-Point Club, in partnership with the New Orleans Pelicans, have teamed together to put on a basketball camp for children with cancer, sickle cell anemia, and those impacted by illnesses that prevent them from participating in regular youth athletic programs. The camp is held in July each year, and the third annual camp will take place in July, 2018. Families with children interested in attending should send an email to 3pointclubofneworleans@gmail.com or contact Roslyn Duplessie at 504-452-8993The 3-Point Club is also beginning a college scholarship for students whose lives have been impacted by health related issues.

The 3-Point Club of New Orleans is an IRC Section 501(c)(7) organization. Donations to the organization are not tax deductible. You can follow us on Facebook (group name: 3 Point Club of New Orleans) and on our website. We can be reached by email at 3pointclubofneworleans@gmail.com, or by mail at The 3-Point Club of New Orleans, P.O. Box 23307, New Orleans, LA 70183

More on the dinner here:

If you are interested in joining the club, a membership application can be found here.

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Kumar <![CDATA[The Big Conundrum]]> http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/?p=56141 2017-11-24T20:31:05Z 2017-11-24T20:31:05Z A look into the success of Davis centric Lineups and what that means for the Pelicans The last few weeks unearthed a familiar trend. Lineups with Anthony Davis at center absolutely demolish the opposition. This trend goes years back. First it was Davis and Ryan Anderson as your front court – they blitzed opponents to […]]]>
A look into the success of Davis centric Lineups and what that means for the Pelicans

The last few weeks unearthed a familiar trend. Lineups with Anthony Davis at center absolutely demolish the opposition. This trend goes years back. First it was Davis and Ryan Anderson as your front court – they blitzed opponents to the tune of 115+ points per 100 possessions over almost 3 years. While they nearly gave up the same amount of points on the other end, the pairing still outscored opponents on the balance. Last year the Pelicans’s small ball look with Davis-Cunningham-Hill as the front court was written about extensively and the Davis centric lineups continued to dominate even after the DeMarcus Cousins trade. This year is no different. Take a look at the table below.

The first row is how the Pelicans perform when both Davis and Cousins are on the court in which we assume Cousins is the center. The second row is how the Pelicans perform when only Davis is on the court and we assume he is the center. As you can see the offense takes a giant leap forward while the defense takes a step back. On the balance, Davis centric lineups are actually outperforming lineups with both Davis and CousinsThis includes the two games at Portland and Sacramento where Cousins went off without Davis. But wait, there is more.

This is how Davis centric lineups have fared over the last 10 games, including the Denver abomination.

 

In 114 minutes, Davis led lineups are outscoring opponents by 23.9 points per 100 possessions. They sport an elite defensive rating and an incendiary offensive rating. Davis in space in unstoppable and we need to send him to the freaking moon. Davis hasn’t had this combination of ball handling and IQ in his small ball lineups, ever. The ball zips side to side as the Pelicans slam down on the gas pedal in those units, yielding a pace of 106.6. This mark would pass the Brooklyn Nets for league best.

Checkout this play from the Spurs game.

 

 

Davis has so much space that Rondo is able lob it up as Davis crashes from the 3 point arc.  I mean just look how the ball moves in this next play.

 

 

What do we make of all this?

There are two different games going on within a Pelicans game. There is a bash and smash when the Pelicans feature both bigs or any Boogie centric lineups, and there is a pace and space when Davis is given the runway with ball handlers and shooters. Make no mistake, the Pelicans need Cousins to perform at a high level to be successful in the future despite what the numbers are saying right now. Their ceiling is only as high as how good the pairing of Davis and Cousins can be. However, with how successful Davis in space continues to be, the needs profile of this team shifts a little bit.

McNamara has repeatedly pointed out that the Pelicans are in desperate need of a third big, one who can play with both Davis and Cousins, to round out the roster. We still need that third big, but the success of Davis at center changes what type of big the Pelicans should go after. I don’t think lumbering big bodies such as Lopez or Monroe should be the targets, especially with the return of Omer Asik. You want to optimize the number of minutes between the Davis – Cousins combo and the number of minutes with Davis at center. Getting a traditional big, or a big who cannot space marginalizes both lineups. Instead the Pelicans should be targeting hybrid 3/4s who can shoot a little an handle the ball a little.  The two trade targets that come to mind are Nikola Mirotić ( who @MP_NBA has advocated for for a while now), and Thaddeus Young. It is important to note Mirotić cannot be traded until January 18th. There are rumbles around the league that the Pacers’s brass isn’t too happy with the fast start they have gotten off to. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the young team, but if they continue winning the Pacers might not be too keen on moving Young.

Fortunately, as long as health remains, time may be on the Pelicans’s side for once. The more minutes they can give to the AD and Boogie pairing to grow, the more time they have to evaluate what their needs truly are before committing to a move. Meanwhile if they continue to steamroll opponents by going small, the Pelicans’s relative flexibility only increases. Especially as they start seeing players like Ajinca and Hill return from injury.  A blurry outline of what this team and roster can be is beginning to take shape. Let’s hope time adds needed clarity and success.

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