Pelicans Mid-Season Review

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Pelicans Mid-Season Review

We are just over halfway through the NBA season at forty-seven games played. The Pels are sitting at 18-29 and only 4.5 games out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference. A Pelicans mid-season review of where things stand is in order. The entire fan base suffered from blue balls for three months waiting on Zion to come. Last Wednesday night, he arrived! And, after three lackluster spurts, Zion dominated a span of 3:08 by outscoring the Spurs 17-12 alone. He followed that up with another effortless fifteen points on Friday. And, last night, Zion delivered 21 points and 11 rebounds en route to the first win of the Zion era. There is little doubt that Zion is going to have a tremendous impact on this team going forward! But let’s take a look at how everyone has done in Zion’s absence.

Mid-Season Player Reviews

This review will layout all counting stat averages per one hundred possessions(Per 100). Additionally, we will look at how each player has faired given a specific play type. Let’s dive in!

*All Per 100 stats were derived from Basketball-Reference.(1/25/20) All play type data was derived from NBA.com.(1/25/20)


Brandon Ingram

PtsAstRebORebStlBlkTOPFFG%2P%3P%FT%TS%
33.95.88.81.21.21.14.14.046.850.839.185.359.2
Play TypeFreqPPPEFG%Percentile
Transistion16.7%1.1558.359.6
Isolation14.1%1.0450.580.7
PnR Handler23.3%.8646.656.6
PnR Roll-Man1.3%2.15100100
Post-Up3.3%.7034.616.4
Spot-Up20.9%1.1657.882.1
Handoff5.7%1.0454.374.4
Cutter2.9%1.4876.285.0
Off Screen6.8%.9648.154.1
Putback1.8%1.1752.967.7

“Slenderman”

Has any player benefitted from Zion’s absence more than Ingram? I believe the answer is no. Zion being away has allowed BI to assert himself in a way that many thought he would in previous years. He currently sits tenth in the NBA in terms of scoring. He has improved his game and efficiency at all three levels of the court. Ingram improved his free-throw percentage by about twenty points as well. Aside from getting buckets, Ingram has also improved as a playmaker. His willingness to find the open man out of the double team has been a critical development. He has morphed into an All-Star caliber player. It was no guarantee he takes those steps if Zion was healthy and getting his expected touches. In a way, Zion’s injury and return gave New Orleans another superstar that perhaps the team wasn’t expecting.

On offense, Ingram has proven to be balanced and productive from multiple play types. His success across most play types keeps the defense off balance. This lends to BI getting pretty much where he wants to on the court when he doesn’t see a double team. On defense, it’s been a different story. He has been miscast as a power forward for much of the season. He simply isn’t strong enough to take on big bodies down low with any consistency. Hopefully, a move back to his natural small forward position will allow him to become a better defender for the team.

Mid-Season Grade: A


Jrue Holiday

PtsAstRebORebStlBlkTOPFFG%2P%3P%FT%TS%
25.78.36.31.72.31.04.02.943.948.334.972.251.8
Play TypeFreqPPPEFG%Percentile
Transistion16.8%1.0761.340.7
Isolation10.4%1.1160.388.2
PnR Handler33.9%.7341.729.8
PnR Roll-Man
Post-Up1.2%.8040.027.0
Spot-Up17.0%.8041.024.4
Handoff7.5%1.1664.085.6
Cutter2.7%1577.391.1
Off Screen3.1%.6428.611.5
Putback2.3%1.3769.489.6

“Kung Fu Jrue”

Kung Fu Jrue had his usual slow start to the season but then turned it around big time. He is still elite as an individual on-ball defender. Jrue has also picked up the scoring load as the team’s #2 option. He has improved his three-point shooting to a more respectable level, which will be highly beneficial with Zion coming back. Minus an off game here or there, Jrue has been the Jrue we all love as a fanbase. He has been a little banged up throughout the season, but none of the injuries seem to be lingering. His defense and leadership are invaluable to this young team.

Efficiency wise, Jrue could stand to make improvements. His shooting percentages have been lackluster. Part of his problem is that he can’t buy a foul call when driving lane. Another issue is his tendency to sometimes settle for a lousy shot. Jrue’s numbers in the pick-and-roll have plummeted this season. However, he is still the best option to run it thus far. On the flip side, Jrue has made a considerable improvement as an isolation player compared to last year. His willingness to do take on whichever role the team needs is essential to the team’s success this year. Jrue has maintained his status as an underrated player and borderline All-Star thus far.

Mid-Season Grade: B+


Lonzo Ball

PtsAstRebORebStlBlkTOPFFG%2P%3P%FT%TS%
18.09.68.71.71.90.54.12.939.142.636.454.049.8
Play TypeFreqPts Per PossEFG%Percentile
Transistion17.4%.9056.813.8
Isolation4.3%.4622.52.2
PnR Handler28.7%.6140.315.6
PnR Roll-Man
Post-Up
Spot-Up30.1%1.052.656.0
Handoff4.1%.7842.132.6
Cutter2.3%1.060.010.4
Off Screen3.4%.7957.723.8
Putback3.2%1.2873.379.6

“Zo”

Lonzo’s season thus far has been a rollercoaster. He was given massive expectations from the fan base. Some even thought of Ball as the best piece received in the AD trade. The early returns were… atrocious. His scoring was uninspiring. The rebound and assist numbers weren’t there. The one silver lining for him was that his jumper looked much improved and more effective. After he rolled his ankle 37 times in one play, he missed six games. The Pels went 4-2 during that stretch. Many thought the writing was on the wall when the team went 1-11 during the next twelve games he played. And then BOOM! Lonzo flipped the switch for aggressive mode, and it’s like he is an entirely different player. Through January, he’s averaging 14.6ppg, 7.3rpg, and 8.8apg.

However, Zo still has a multitude of ways he can improve. Would you believe me if I told you Lonzo was only the seventh-best player on the team as a pick and roll ball handler? It’s true. He’s the worst at executing it amongst all guards. In fact, the only play type where he is average is as a spot-up shooter. Speaking of shooting, Zo deserves a tip of the cap from everyone for his dramatically improved his shot since coming to NOLA. Currently, Zo is shooting 36% from beyond the arc. Zo affects the game in a multitude of ways. And, we are starting to see more and more of his impact lead to wins. Hopefully, he can keep the momentum up with the team getting healthy around him. It’s hard to think of a more ideal slew of weapons for him once the team is 100% healthy.

Mid-Season Grade: C+


J.J. Redick

PtsAstRebORebStlBlkTOPFFG%2P%3P%FT%TS%
25.83.24.60.40.50.21.92.544.843.346.588.964.5
Play TypeFreqPts Per PossEFG%Percentile
Transistion17.6%1.3272.086.2
Isolation2.2%1.2580.096.2
PnR Handler12.5%1.0550.089.5
PnR Roll-Man2.1%1.8210099.4
Post-Up
Spot-Up15.7%1.1052.071.1
Handoff12.4%1.2362.590.2
Cutter2.8%1.063.610.4
Off Screen28.1%1.1357.480.2
Putback

“Bubs”

J.J. is an absolute monster. He is deadly efficient at everything he does on offense. And, here’s the great thing about Redick. He knows what he can do and knows what he can’t do. The guy does a great job of sticking to his strengths. He has carried the team for stretches through droughts. J.J. currently sits at #2 in the NBA for three-point shooting percentage. He has taken more than twice the amount of threes than the only player ahead of him, George Hill. The problem with J.J. has and always will be his defense. He tries hard, but he gets out-athleted(yes, I made that word up) by most match-ups. Redick does more than enough offensively to make us look over the defensive woes. He got brought in for veteran leadership and shooting. And, J.J. is providing both of those in abundance.

Mid-Season Grade: A


Josh Hart

PtsAstRebORebStlBlkTOPFFG%2P%3P%FT%TS%
17.72.410.21.61.80.62.14.541.956.435.075.856.3
Play TypeFreqPts Per PossEFG%Percentile
Transistion30.6%1.1262.153.4
Isolation
PnR Handler5.5%.4425.03.1
PnR Roll-Man
Post-Up
Spot-Up41.2%.9951.653.5
Handoff3.8%.5625.010.2
Cutter
Off Screen8.1%.9145.044.3
Putback

“Josh Barkley”

Mini-Rant: GET THE FUCK BACK ON DEFENSE! It feels like three or four times a game that Josh gets caught arguing with the referees about a foul call he didn’t get. We, in New Orleans, know all about bullshit referees. But Josh, the play isn’t stopping, sweetheart! The other team is currently yamming on your teammates down the floor! Look, one time? Ok. Get your frustrations out. But please, just cut it back some would ya!?

Now, I love Josh. The man works hard and plays like he is 6’10. It’s wild to watch. He sticks to his role for the most part and plays within himself. You kind of wish that his shooting percentages were a little higher, but he’s a respectable 3&D threat. Overall, he is an excellent player to have off the bench. His hustle, when zoned in, is unreal. When he does get back on defense, he is a pest. Hart has been a consistent treat all year! Given his role, you couldn’t ask for much more.

Mid-Season Grade: B+


Jaxson Hayes

PtsAstRebORebStlBlkTOPFFG%2P%3P%FT%TS%
20.42.311.14.11.22.71.96.866.567.325.062.467.8
Play TypeFreqPts Per PossEFG%Percentile
Transistion10.1%1.5280.098.1
Isolation
PnR Handler
PnR Roll-Man30.3%1.2964.981.3
Post-Up
Spot-Up
Handoff
Cutter29.3%1.5081.287.6
Off Screen
Putback17.6%.9147.820.9

“Sideshow Jax”

What a beast! This kid wasn’t even supposed to play many minutes this year. Currently, Jax is sixth on the team in minutes played. Furthermore, He leads all rookies in offensive rebounding and blocks. He is already approaching elite numbers as a roll man, cutter, and as a big in transition. Many people like to call Ingram the “Slim Reaper” after Kevin Durant. That title more appropriately should belong to Hayes. He has taken soul after soul this year with his rim-rattling dunks and volleyball like blocks. Jaxson Hayes has exceeded all expectations, but he can still improve.

The kid needs some weight on his ass! If he can add twenty pounds of muscle over the next year or two… look out NBA. Jaxson Hayes will be a problem. His lack of weight and strength is apparent when battling for position down low, or he tries to go back up after a miss deep in the paint. He consistently gives up ground when posted up. And, Jax’s rebound numbers are a little lower than you’d like. Despite his lack of size, Jaxson is actually really talented as a screen setter. He is 12th in the NBA in screen assists per 36 minutes. At the mid-way point, he has been a pleasant surprise.

Mid-Season Grade: A-


Kenrich Williams

PtsAstRebORebStlBlkTOPFFG%2P%3P%FT%TS%
7.93.210.62.91.51.31.34.834.351.126.037.543.0
Play TypeFreqPts Per PossEFG%Percentile
Transistion19.1%1.0655.240.1
Isolation
PnR Handler
PnR Roll-Man
Post-Up
Spot-Up52.0%.7038.112.8
Handoff
Cutter10.4%1.0664.317.9
Off Screen
Putback6.9%.9250.022.3

“Kenny Hustle”

Defensive players who cannot score the rock are a dying breed. That has been the story for “Kenny Hustle” this year. He holds his own on defense. He brings energy on that side of the floor and helps out on the boards. Kenrich brings a lot of the same things Josh Hart gives you. Even with those things working for him, Kenny is almost unplayable. The guy can’t hit wide-open shots. It’s plain and simple. You hope its a slump, right? We have seen Kenny get streaky and hit a few in a row on occasion. Not this year. 52% of his offense comes from spot-up shooting, and his shooting percentages are extraordinarily weak. Teams stopped guarding him. His inability to score has allowed teams to double-team his teammates. That’s a no go. Here’s hoping he can find his shot somewhere in the next half of the season!

Mid-Season Grade: D


E’Twaun Moore

PtsAstRebORebStlBlkTOPFFG%2P%3P%FT%TS%
22.53.86.41.51.40.31.83.542.644.839.463.951.5
Play TypeFreqPts Per PossEFG%Percentile
Transistion17.5%1.051.727.4
Isolation5.0%.8947.152.9
PnR Handler14.7%.7639.135.3
PnR Roll-Man
Post-Up
Spot-Up28.1%1.2565.292.7
Handoff7.5%.5629.29.8
Cutter
Off Screen16.7%.7238.715.3
Putback3.3%.8345.514.8

“Uncle E”

You have to give credit where credit is due. “Uncle E” stays ready to go. He got sent to the bench early in the year in favor of the young guns. However, when his number got called, he stepped in exactly how you would expect from a vet. He isn’t great defensively. What he does bring you is excellent floor spacing as a spot-up shooter. Moore is shooting 39% from beyond the arc and is in the 92nd percentile for spot-up shooting. That’s going to come in handy on this team if a playoff push is going to happen.

Mid-Season Grade: C+


Derrick Favors

PtsAstRebORebStlBlkTOPFFG%2P%3P%FT%TS%
18.83.819.36.31.12.12.44.561.962.625.057.562.4
Play TypeFreqPts Per PossEFG%Percentile
Transistion5.7%1.3610089.1
Isolation
PnR Handler
PnR Roll-Man28.2%1.1562.358.4
Post-Up4.9%1.0066.777.5
Spot-Up
Handoff
Cutter27.3%1.2465.045.1
Off Screen
Putback21.6%1.1157.157.4

“Sexual Favors”

I recently wrote a blog detailing how Derrick Favors has completely changed this team defensively. He makes the entire team better. You have to wonder how this team’s record would look if he were healthy and playing all season. Make no mistake; Derrick Favors is the catalyst to an effective Pelicans defense. When healthy, his scoring numbers are pretty strong, given his role. His rebounding has been just a tick below elite. Derrick is essential to this team as it makes its push to reach the post-season.

Early returns on his fit next to Zion are questionable, at best. That’s something to keep an eye on going forward. However, his play to this point has been favor-able.

Mid-Season Grade: B+


Nicolo Melli

PtsAstRebORebStlBlkTOPFFG%2P%3P%FT%TS%
17.43.17.31.51.80.62.45.643.660.733.381.157.8
Play TypeFreqPts Per PossEFG%Percentile
Transistion13.6%1.2764.080.2
Isolation
PnR Handler
PnR Roll-Man18.3%1.1460.357.6
Post-Up11.5%1.0962.589.3
Spot-Up35.6%.9947.552.2
Handoff
Cutter
Off Screen
Putback

“Melli Mel”

Nicolo has taken some time to adjust to the speed of the NBA. The former EuroLeague MVP is not particularly athletic in terms of NBA standards. He is, however, highly skilled. He is a good shooter from the three-point line and a decent facilitator as a big man. As the numbers show, he has been moderately effective in his spots as a scorer. However, he stands out as a scorer out of the post. He has picked up his three-point shooting as of late. Melli is hitting them to the tune of 44.4% in January. His biggest flaw is on defense! He is a turnstile on that side of the ball. Melli allows his opponents to shoot more than 8% better than their season averages. OOF!

Melli’s play has the potential to improve greatly as he has the skillset to fit nicely next to Zion in the frontcourt. However, thus far, he hasn’t performed all that great.

Mid-Season Grade: D+


Frank Jackson

PtsAstRebORebStlBlkTOPFFG%2P%3P%FT%TS%
20.42.74.41.21.20.23.04.739.547.230.477.350.1
Play TypeFreqPts Per PossEFG%Percentile
Transistion14.3%.9460.018.7
Isolation4.4%1.1861.192.9
PnR Handler25.1%.6732.422.4
PnR Roll-Man
Post-Up
Spot-Up32.7%.9347.943.6
Handoff5.6%.8641.740.9
Cutter
Off Screen8.4%.7636.720.2
Putback

“Frankie Flash”

Frank started off the year hot! He was the best guard off the bench through the first eleven games. After that, Frank got karate chopped in the back of the neck. The injury caused him to miss a few games. When he came back, Frank was downright dreadful on offense. He was bricking shots left and right. It wasn’t pretty. One has to wonder if that injury stuck with him physically or mentally for longer than we thought. It seems, during January, he may have finally snapped out of it. For the month, Frank is shooting 47% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc.

The coaches trust Frank’s defense in key moments. You could find him guarding Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Rose late in recent games. In fact, after looking into defensive play type data, Frankie Flash sits at nearly the 98th percentile when it comes to isolation defense. He is also very effective in defending handoffs and taking on screens as he ranks above the 70th percentile, in both. It’s not all fantastic on defense for him, though. He ranks just below average when defending spot-up attempts. And, defending the pick and roll has given him fits to the tune of being in the 9th percentile. Frank has been impressive in spurts, but there is a massive gap in the middle of those spurts.

Mid-Season Grade: C


Nickeil Alexander-Walker

PtsAstRebORebStlBlkTOPFFG%2P%3P%FT%TS%
20.26.97.40.71.00.73.34.134.734.934.560.745.0
Play TypeFreqPts Per PossEFG%Percentile
Transistion11.9%.5933.32.4
Isolation4.5%.5827.36.4
PnR Handler36.8%.6739.524.0
PnR Roll-Man
Post-Up
Spot-Up27.1%.9950.752.7
Handoff4.8%1.6979.299.5
Cutter
Off Screen6.3%.8250.029.7
Putback

“NAW”

NAW has been an exciting player to watch. Especially, when he throws those beautiful alley-oops to Jaxson. He has the potential to be the future lead guard for this team. In many ways, you can find a lot of similarities between Lonzo and NAW’s playstyles. For instance, both are tall for the point guard position. And, they find the majority of their scoring opportunities as pick-and-roll ball handlers, spot-up shooters, and in transition. NAW’s effectiveness in those situations is a mixed bag. He’s just above average as a spot-up shooter. He’s in the 24th percentile as a pick and roll ball handler. And, NAW has some serious struggles in the transition game, as he only sits in the 3rd percentile. Ouch! It’s not all bad for him, though. In a small sample size, he ranks in the 99th percentile coming off handoffs.

Just like Frank, NAW excels as an isolation defender where he ranks in the 92nd percentile. He also mirrors Frank while defending off screens and against handoffs. He ranks above the 70th percentile in both measures. However, NAW has some major fits guarding against the pick-and-roll and spot-up shooters. There, he ranks in the 5th and 4th percentile, respectively. Nickeil struggles to score the ball efficiently from inside the three-point line. He shoots a team-low 35% from inside the arc. Adding to his shooting woes, he leads the team in having his shot blocked per 36 minutes. There’s a lot for NAW to improve on, as expected from a rookie. But there’s a ton to be excited for in his future as well.

Mid-Season Grade: D+


Jahlil Okafor

PtsAstRebORebStlBlkTOPFFG%2P%3P%FT%TS%
24.14.013.15.10.62.24.07.161.661.850.064.963.8
Play TypeFreqPts Per PossEFG%Percentile
Transistion8.6%1.2969.282.9
Isolation
PnR Handler
PnR Roll-Man20.2%1.269.067.7
Post-Up20.2%.8855.639.3
Spot-Up5.6%1.1861.185.2
Handoff
Cutter14.6%1.3875.069.1
Off Screen
Putback11.1%1.3266.785.2

“Jah”

Jah has always been a beast on offense. And, nothing has changed in that regard. Jah knows how to win down low when he has the ball and there are not many defenders in the league who can negate his abilities. One of the big improvements we have seen from Jah, that we started to see some of last year, is his ability to run the floor in transition and finish. His craftiness definitely helps him with those fastbreaks. If you don’t love the Jah coast-to-coast layups, then you don’t love life.

The problem for Jah has always been as a defender. He simply gets worked down low. Usually, the effort is there. He has the size to be an effective defender. He simply gets beat, repeatedly. Last year, he showed some glimpses of improvement. This season has been a walk back in time. It’s not been pretty. By now, we know what to expect from Jah. As the third center on the depth chart, Jah has been a pretty good value.

Mid-Season Grade: C-


Pels Team Review

It’s been another rough season for New Orleans on the medical front. Accordingly, the Pels rank 5th in the NBA for most games lost to injury with 155. For this reason, it’s been tough for the team to figure itself out. Chemistry is a hard thing to attain on a team with nine new faces. And, even harder when the lineups are always in flux. For this reason, it’s been difficult to gather much reliable data. For instance, it’s hard to indict any single player for their defensive stats when the entire team has played miserable defense all year. The new scheme, new coach, changing schemes, revolving door of rotations, injuries, and a brutal schedule have dealt the Pelicans a pretty shitty hand. What do we know?

Positives

The most significant silver lining for this team statistically has been its three-point shooting. They rank fourth in the league for attempts. In addition, they rank sixth for three-point percentage at 37.1%. To this end, we have seen the Pels live and die from beyond the arc. And, while rebounding has been a struggle for the team, their offensive rebounding is ranked 12th in the NBA. The Pelicans also have had by far the toughest schedule in the league. To that end, the fact that they are still alive in the playoff hunt should not go unrecognized.

Negatives

Where do we begin!? They rank in the bottom ten of the league in turnovers, steals, defensive rebounding, free throw attempts, and free throw percentage. Of those, the most damning might just be the free throw percentage. The Pelicans rank 28th. Thus far, twelve of the team’s losses have been close enough for the number of missed free throws to swing the game if they had been converted. Yes, asking the team to shoot 100% from the stripe on any night is a long shot. However, if you just swing half of those games, the team would be 24-23 and within striking distance of the fifth seed. Big difference!

Outlook

Zion is back and the whole team is nearly healthy. It’s going to take some time for everything to mesh and for Coach Gentry to figure out the rotations. Either way, the Pels prospects for getting the eighth seed are looking up if they can figure it out soon and get rolling.

That does it for this Pelicans’ mid-season player review. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram for more coverage on the Pelicans and Saints!

-Ghost

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