Dec 13, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday (11) celebrates after a basket with teammate shooting guard Anthony Morrow during the fourth quarter of a game against the Memphis Grizzlies at New Orleans Arena. The Pelicans defeated the Grizzlies 104-98. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the Pelicans' Best Lineups

NBA players have a variety of skills and roles.  Part of team success comes through the ability to combine players into units that best utilize each player’s skills and minimize their weaknesses. Some lineups will space the floor, others will crash the boards, but every lineup should conform in such a way that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  Here is a look at which lineups have been especially effective and ineffective for the Pelicans.

Holiday-Gordon-Evans-Anderson-Smith (Net Rating: +34.4)

This unit, featured after Anthony Davis’ injury, has decimated opponents in its limited playing time, scoring 119 points per 100 possessions and allowing 84.7, rates that would lead the league in both categories.  With Ryan Anderson spacing the floor, all three guards are able to penetrate.  Jason Smith’s proficiency from mid range allows him to be the role man without forcing too much attention on the ball handler, while the shooting ability of Gordon and Holiday forces defenses to close hard, creating more penetration opportunities. Although the defensive performance is likely unsustainable in a greater sample, the effectiveness of Smith as a rim anchor and Holiday, Gordon, and Evans as perimeter defenders is encouraging.

Holiday-Gordon-Evans-Anderson-Davis (Net Rating: +13.7)

Swapping Smith for Davis has produced an entirely different effect. This lineup, seemingly a conglomeration of New Orleans’ five best players, has scored an incredible 130.4 points per 100 possessions in 53 minutes, a much more significant sample. This floor spacing attack has taken the “allow a lot of points, score even more” approach to success, allowing 116.7 points per 100 possessions. This is partly due to struggles on the offensive glass. Of the Pelicans seven most used lineups, this unit has allowed the highest offensive rebounding percentage, allowing opponents to recover 36 percent of their own misses.

Holiday-Gordon-Aminu-Anderson-Smith (Net Rating: +9.0)

At this point, you may be noticing a trend; Holiday, Gordon, and Anderson are featured in each of New Orleans’ three most successful lineups. Anderson opens the floor for the two guards. Also, both Gordon and Holiday are capable of knocking down perimeter shots when the other is handling the ball.  This creates a potent offensive synergy reflected in the offensve success of these units.

Even when Anthony Davis was healthy, the Pelicans faced a challenging road to the playoffs.  With Davis out, they must do their best to create every advantage possible, including playing lineups that best combine individual skills.

Tags: Anthony Davis Eric Gordon New Orleans Pelicans Ryan Anderson

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