Pelicans: Nikola Jokic Shows Zion Williamson 3 Ways to Be a Stretch-Five

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Jokic shows shooting is not what the New Orleans Pelicans need.

In their elimination of the Clippers, Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets showed the New Orleans Pelicans what they need in a stretch-five.

The idea of a “stretch” center has been repeated ad nauseam since the arrival of Zion Williamson.

Pels’ fans are obsessed with the idea that Zion must play only with guys who can shoot 3-pointers, including at center.

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But if you look around the NBA, you’ll find that there aren’t actually that many centers who can shoot.

The top 3-point shooting center in the league is Karl-Anthony Towns, who makes a whopping 3.3 per game.

The rest of the list? A bunch of guys who aren’t really centers.

When we remove the guys who are really just power forwards who play center sometimes, we basically have KAT and Vucevic, who makes 1.6 per game.

New Orleans Pelicans: Jokic is the league’s best stretch-five.

The idea of the stretch-five is nice, but there aren’t many of them, and the best one, Nikola Jokic, shoots just 31% from long-range on only 3.5 attempts per game, his career high.

That’s because Jokic stretches the floor without shooting the 3-pointer, showing that maybe it shouldn’t be the goal of every 7-footer to be launching nine long-range shots per game.

He uses a combination of old-school center play with modern big man mentality to form something entirely unique: a center who can play with his back to the basket while opening up the floor for his teammates.

There are a lot of ways to open up space without your center launching a bunch of 3-pointers and the New Orleans Pelicans need to pay attention as they may already have a stretch-five on their roster.

Here are the three things they need from a “stretch” center that don’t involve shooting from long-range.

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