No one who watched the Pelicans late in the season would have mistaken shooting for one of the team’s strengths.
With Al-Farouq Aminu and Tyreke Evans running around for heavy minutes on the wings the New Orleans offense was working in cramped space with very little real threat of three-point shooting to make defenses worry.
Thanks to the struggles there seems to be a real emphasis on the Pelicans bringing in some shooters this offseason, a fact both Monty Williams and Dell Demps mentioned it in their postseason press conferences.
Looking at some numbers the other day made me wonder something, though.
Is shooting really a problem for New Orleans? Or was the problem just the injuries that destroyed the team?
As a team the Pelicans actually finished sixth in the NBA in three-point percentage at 37.3%. Their problem came in attempts, as they shot just 15.9 threes per game. That number ranked 29th in the NBA, ahead of only the Memphis Grizzlies and almost two attempts per game fewer than the 28th place Bulls.
Luckily, a look at the Pelicans’ most common threat-point takers shows that there is a great chance that the team can fix that problem next season. Of the top six players in attempts per game for New Orleans last season, just two, Anthony Morrow and Brian Roberts, played over seventy games, and those two players ranked fourth and fifth respectively.
Between Anderson, Eric Gordon, Babbitt and Jrue Holiday the team lost about 17 attempted threes per game. Obviously due to minute and shot allocations that many shots wouldn’t have been actually attempted but it is easy to see how their should be hope for the shooting to improve next season.
Just by getting back Anderson and Holiday for the amount of games the Pelicans expected out of them at the start of the season New Orleans should see a jump in three-point attempts next season by having players who feel comfortable taking those shots playing heavy minutes. With a full season of Babbitt off the bench they also gain attempts from him that Tyreke Evans or Aminu couldn’t give them, adding some firepower to the bench, especially if Anthony Morrow returns to New Orleans.
That isn’t to say that the team shouldn’t add shooting. In today’s NBA with defenses constantly evolving a team can never have too many three-point shooters. But it does give some hope to New Orleans. Maybe the shooting problems weren’t as bad as they looked on the surface. Which is always a good thing to find.