Earlier this week I started a series that took a look at some SportsVu data in regards to the Pelicans. The series started with a look at movement and possession on Monday, shifted to passing and defense on Tuesday and now moves onto rebounding and drives.
Just a reminder, this data is publicly available for the first time this season so we don’t exactly know how much predictive value on a season to season basis but it does help us learn a bit about things this season at least.
For much of this season rebounding was a bit of a weakness for the Pelicans, who finished tied for 17th in the league in rebounding rate and 21st in the league in defensive rebounding rate.
So how did the Pelicans rate in some of the new player tracking data?
For starters just one Pelicans rotation player fell in the top 100 in percentage of rebounds per chance (a chance is considered a rebound a player was within 3.5 feet of), of any player to play 15 minutes or more per game.
That player was Anthony Davis who hauled in 64 percent of his chances. Five other Pelicans ranked in the top 200 (Luke Babbitt, Jason Smith, Alexis Ajinca, Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Gordon and Brian Roberts) but three of those players played limited games and two of them were guards which is why the team numbers don’t look as good.
The other problem was that only two Pelicans that played over 32 games, Davis and Aminu, ranked in the top 100 in the league in rebounding chances per game. Davis led the team in rebounding chances per game with 15.7 chances while Aminu’s 10.6 finished behind Ryan Anderson (12.7) and ahead of Smith (9.9). The Anderson number should be encouraging for the Pelicans considering they expect a full season out of him next year and the hopes are lineups that pair Anderson and Davis could eventually become a long-term weapon.
Even more encouraging is the job Davis did collection tough rebounds. He finished tied for sixth in the league by pulling down 4.3 contested rebounds per game this season. The Pelicans actually featured four players that finished in the top 100 in the league in that stat with Anderson finishing second on the team with 3.4, Aminu third at 2.1 and Smith and Ajinca tied for fourth at 1.9. In fact 52.8 percent of Anderson’s rebounds were contested, as were 43.2 percent of Davis’ and 39.4 percent of Ajinca’s, all numbers that ranked in the top 100 in the league.
These are numbers that seem to have the potential to vary greatly from year-to-year but they should be watched closely next season. If Davis can consistently haul in contested rebounds and Anderson and Ajinca bring their good rebounding for a full season it seems possible the Pelicans team rebounding numbers should greatly improve next season.
It has been well documented that the Pelicans struggled to stretch the floor this past season which meant a great deal of their points and field goal attempts came at the rim. A large majority of those shots came via drives as five Pelicans ranked in the top 100 in the league in total drives. The problem for New Orleans was that none of those five players shot 50 percent on those attempts.
Tyreke Evans finished third in the league in total drives with 730 but shot just 45.1 percent. Austin Rivers finished second on the roster with 368 drives and shot just 42.8 percent. Eric Gordon finished third in drives with 355 and led the team in field goal percentage on the drives at 48.3 percent. Jrue Holiday finished fourth with 269 drives but he shot just 45.2 percent and Brian Roberts finished fifth with 205 drives but he shot 43.7 percent.
Despite the poor shooting percentages the individual points per game on drives for Evans (6.7), Holiday (4.8), Gordon (4.5) and Rivers (4) all finished in the top 100 thanks to the large number of drives, with Evans actually finishing second in the league.
What I found the most encouraging point though of the drive data was that both Evans and Holiday finished in the top 11 in the league in team points produced per game on drives. That meant that the two players were not only scoring for themselves but dishing to open teammates when the opportunity presented itself. For a team that struggles to shoot any bit of passing and shot creation is a big deal.
That concludes today’s run through the data, make sure to check back for the final installment as we look at catch and shoot, pull up and shooting efficiency data in the next few days. In the meantime if you want to explore the data yourself you can do that here.