The New Orleans Pelicans have had a roller coaster of an offseason that included trading out Lonzo Ball for Devonte’ Graham.
Lonzo ended up on the Chicago Bulls after the Pels were able to orchestrate a sign-and-trade, and Graham came over in a sign-and-trade of his own before promptly signing a four year extension with the Pelicans.
There are some ways that Devonte’ Graham is a better fit for the Pelicans than Lonzo Ball, but on paper, this doesn’t look like much of an upgrade except for the fact that Graham makes half as much as Ball.
Their stats are very similar, as both shot over 37 percent from long range on a high volume of attempts last season while mostly playing off the ball.
But there is one area where Graham is decisively better, and it happens to be an area of real weakness for the New Orleans Pelicans.
The New Orleans Pelicans are terrible in the clutch
The New Orleans Pelicans were one of the worst teams in the “clutch” last season, coughing up ten double-digit leads, which was really the difference in them making the play-in tournament or not.
The Pels had the 19th rated offense in clutch time, which is basically the final two minutes of a close game.
The Pels struggled to close out games in the 4th quarter, partially because they played way too much isolation ball and partially because they couldn’t make free throws.
These are areas where Devonte’ Graham should be a big upgrade over Lonzo Ball, who was one of the Pels’ worst clutch players, which is supported by some surprising statistics.