The solutions to a big Pelicans’ problem may be on the roster

CJ McCollum #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CJ McCollum #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans finished 27th in the NBA in 3-point percentage this season, and after finishing 25th the year before, it’s officially a concern.

The team struggled mightily to convert on threes at every spot on the court. They shot 33.3 percent from behind-the-arc overall, though the Pelicans didn’t take that many, as they were ranked just 25th in 3-point attempts. Here is a breakdown of the percentages by zone:

  • 36.7% on corner 3’s (overall)
  • 33.7% from the right corner
  • 39.3% from the left corner
  • 32.2% above the break 3’s

These are all in the bottom seven of the league. Luckily, the solutions to one of the Pelicans’ biggest problems might already be on the team.

Can the Pelicans fix their shooting problems with internal solutions?

Trey Murphy III

Trey Murphy came into the season as the purist shooter on the roster. Murphy was a 50/40/90 player coming out of Virginia. When he began to get consistent minutes off the bench, Murphy led all rookies in 3-point percentage, shooting 38.2 percent from beyond the arc.  He hit seven 3-point shots vs. Charlotte and had an explosive 3rd quarter vs. the Lakers where he drained four from long range. Murphy has also had nine games this season where he didn’t miss a three. Safe to say that he’s the best shooter on the team. Getting him more attempts next season should help the Pelicans shooting percentages overall.

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CJ McCollum

CJ has been a shooter his entire career. CJ shot 43.1 percent on catch and shoot 3-pointers this year. He also proved to be a great late shot clock shooter hitting 48.4 percent of 3-point shots with seven to four seconds left on the clock. He shot a high percentage without dribbling at 43.6 percent. This isn’t an indicator that Coach Willie Green should turn CJ into a spot up shooter, but it is an Indicator that he’s extremely reliable in that role, which may be his future once Zion Williamson returns. The offense will open up for him significantly behind Ingram and Williamson’s gravity, which should help him get more high-percentage shots from long range.

Herb Jones

Herbert Jones had an up and down season as a shooter this year. He shot 33.7 percent overall, which is decent for a guy who wasn’t a shooter to begin with. He shot 28.8 from 3-point range in college so Jones has out-performed expectations. There was a time this season when he was red-hot from long range, but he had a significant decline post All Star break. However, there is some good in his jump shot. His best shooting month was in December shooting 41.7 percent. He shot 37.5 percent from the left corner three and 37.1 percent from 25-29 feet this year as well. He came back to life in the post season, where he shot  41.7 percent. Jones should make a small leap as a shooter next season and should help improve the Pels’ overall numbers.

Brandon Ingram

Ingram took a dip in shooting from distance this season even though his attempts actually went up slightly. Prior to this season, Ingram was a 39 percent 3-point shooter but only shot 32.7 percent this season. Next to  Zion Williamson last season, he didn’t shoot less than 37 percent in any month, so Zion’s return should help B.I. get better looks. His shooting is not a concern but he does need to be more accurate next season to create space.

I may be in the minority in this, but I believe that with Zion, and an offseason of building off of each other, this team could really take a leap in shooting efficiency behind the arc. They were already one of the top teams in mid range shooting and paint efficiency. The 3-point line is what’s really going to make this team a top offense.

Luckily, the Pelicans have the internal options to improve and should once they are at full strength.

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