New Orleans Pelicans: What’s trending up and down from the season so far

Jose Alvarado #15 of the New Orleans Pelicans and Kevin Porter Jr. #3 of the Houston Rockets . (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Jose Alvarado #15 of the New Orleans Pelicans and Kevin Porter Jr. #3 of the Houston Rockets . (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

After 13 games of the regular season, the New Orleans Pelicans sit on a 7-6 record after a road-heavy schedule. The Pels have recorded impressive wins against the Brooklyn Nets, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Golden State Warriors but have dropped a couple they probably should have won.

After starting the first 13 games last season with a record of 1-12, being above .500 is a welcome sight for the Pels, so what are they doing well and what can they improve going forward for the rest of the season?

New Orleans Pelicans: Trending up


Players like CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson have upped their assists per game early on this season, with CJ averaging 6.5 APG and Zion averaging 3.9 APG, This has led to the New Orleans having an improved year overall in assists.

In their last game vs Houston, the Pels had 28 assists on 42 makes. In the gave vs Dallas, they had 25 assists with CJ McCollum putting up a then season-high 11 assists. New Orleans is currently 9th overall in assists per game (up five spots from last season) and have eight players who average at least two per game, so they are getting contributions from just about everyone and sharing the ball, which is one of coach Willie Green’s non-negotiable rules.

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This has led to exceptional scoring for the Pels, who have only failed to score over 110 points once this season, in the loss against Portland. Due to this high-volume scoring the Pelicans became the first team in 25 seasons to score 110 points in 11 straight games to start a season.

These assists have led to a consistent and balanced offensive attack and are a massive boost for the Pels as they chase an automatic playoff spot.

Jose Alvarado and Larry Nance Jr. 

Another early positive trend is the impact of Jose Alvarado and Larry Nance Jr. are making off the bench. Jose has come off the bench multiple times this season and changed the game, most notably in the Pels last game against the Rockets. Jose came off the bench, scoring a season high 20 points, getting five assists and three steals (including one Grand Theft Alvarado steal). He was a constant thorn in Houston’s side when he was on the floor, especially Kevin Porter Jr. stealing the ball from him twice. It was not just the steals and points for Jose though, his impact had a much bigger effect than that, as he got the crowd going in the 4th quarter after the Pels fell behind by eight.

He was key in the winning of this game for the Pels with a +/-15 while on the floor. The same can be said for Larry Nance Jr. who has had two 20+ games so far this season. He had 20 vs Golden State off an efficient 10-12 shooting and 22 points vs Houston, including two 3-pointers. The game against Golden State was immense from Nance, who came up big in the 4th quarter with 60% of his points coming in the 4th.

Nance Jr. has been a steadying presence off the bench and Jose Alvarado has consistently affected games. Now the Pels just need to get the rest of the bench going.

New Orleans Pelicans: Trending down

Free Throws

Free throws seem to always be a problem with this team. In the game against the Hawks, New Orleans missed eight free throws and in a close game on the road, that is not gonna get the job done.

The New Orleans Pelican ended up losing by three in the end, so the missed free-throws ended up being very important, as the Hawks ended that game +4 from the line.

In the win against the Bulls the story was the same, as the Pelicans missed eight while the Bulls only missed two, which allowed them to stay in the game.

Although the Pels are shooting 77.4 percent from the line (17-best in the NBA), it is more the times in which they are missing the free throws. Take the Lakers game as an example, the Pels were up three with one possession left for the Lakers. Dyson Daniels is at the line. If he hits one free throw it is game over. He misses both. The Lakers called timeout and hit a OT forcing three. The Pels went on to lose the game by three points.

If the New Orleans Pelicans want to move away from around the .500 mark they need to be better at the line and at least climb into the top half of the league in percentage.

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