The 2016-2017 New Orleans Pelicans season did not go as planned. Some Pelicans shined, while others fell short. Young wing E’Twaun Moore came via the Chicago Bulls just as advertised.
One of the best surprises of this past New Orleans Pelicans season is E’Twaun Moore.
The Pelicans went into the summer of 2016 with one desperate and definitively clear need:
The Pelicans signed E’Twaun Moore to a four year $34 million dollar deal. They clearly wanted a defender who could shoot from deep and space the floor for Anthony Davis.
They got a whole lot more than that.
The Pelicans obtained a favorable contract with a player who averages double digits in points with minimal touches, three point shooting (37 percent from deep)), offers great defense, superb footwork, and a bevy of offensive tools and moves that he uses to penetrate and collapse a defense.
E’Twaun Moore was never asked to do too much, averaging just 25 minutes per game. However, he was always available when they needed him, participating in over 73 games. For a team struggling to keep their wings on the floor in recent years, the additions of Moore and Solomon Hill proved valuable by their health alone.
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Moore’s most impressive months for the Pelicans came in December and January. This was just as the young man was beginning to jell into his new system. The former Hoosier and Boilermaker averaged 43.5 percent shooting from three-point range in 27 games during that span. That, coupled with his 45 percent average from the corner and 48 percent average on open looks, made him just the type of player the Pelicans had hoped to sign last summer.
Moore’s best scoring stretch came at the expense of some of his averages. As the team traded away creators Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway and Tyreke Evans, E’Twaun was asked to do that much more offensively. He responded with double-digits in eight of nine games, to begin the month of March.
His confidence seemed to grow as he began utilizing his combination of floaters, runners and mid range poppers. Pels’ fans were introduced to a glimpse of the player Daniel Couglin of Pippen Ain’t Easy described as:
” A bench creator and scorer the Bulls desperately miss.”
His defensive ratings are misleading as he often captained a second unit void of DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. That became a unit that was regularly torched at the outset of second and fourth quarters.
However, his net rating grew to an impressive +3.6 in the month of March, once the Pelicans added Jordan Crawford to the second unit, and slow the bleeding that had been taking place to that point.
His offensive and defensive ratings ascended and descended two points each, respectively, in that month where the Pelicans would at one point roll to a 8-3 run.
E’Twaun Moore is not an All-Star. He can not save the Pelicans from their uncertain future single handed. But, he is exactly what they paid for and what they signed. He is a solid locker room veteran and leader. Moore plays the role of a try hard guy who can be found to be reliable and steady, exactly when the Pelicans need him to be.
However, Moore still has much to work on in the offseason going forward. That is, if he wants the Pelicans to become true contenders in the 2017-18 season.
He must work to improve his decisiveness on the offensive end. Not just in his distribution, but in his willingness to attack. The Pelicans need him to drive and open up space for the bench unit as well as Boogie and A.D., who he often close games with.
His free throw percentage was all over the place, topping out at 91 percent in January and bottoming out to 63 percent in December, never having averaged more than one per game on the season.
Basically what the Pelicans need from Moore is, well, more of everything. They need more aggressiveness and more consistency. He has all the tools to become a starting caliber player in the NBA.
For now, the Pelicans will have to settle for a very valuable contract that extends to the next three seasons, with a player who only seems to be getting better.