The New Orleans Pelicans took a beating last night on the road in Memphis, a rare blowout loss in which they were down by 36 points.
Bad nights happen, so I wouldn’t read too much into the loss, as Memphis had it going last night, hitting 47 percent of their 3-point shots in a reverse of the first time the two teams met. The Grizzlies also won the battle in the paint, which I felt was one of the keys to victory for the Pels.
New Orleans scored just 48 in the paint last night, down from their 54 points per game average on the season, something that has been a recent trend.
The Pels started the season pounding the ball down low and taking few 3-point attempts, but the offense has been evolving over the last six games in a couple of ways.
The New Orleans Pelicans are shooting more 3-point shots
For most of the season, the Pelicans were dead last in the NBA in 3-point attempts, taking just over 27 per game.
Over the last six games, they have shot 35.3 from long range per game. Some of this was by design, as the New Orleans Pelicans wanted more diversity and 3-level scoring in their offensive scheme.
When they are going in, it looks great, which is what happened in the two games prior to last night, but when they aren’t, it’s a problem, as shooting too many 3-point shots takes away from what the Pelicans do best, which is feed off of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
Zion Williamson is getting fewer shot attempts
Zion Williamson attempted just 12 shots last night in 30 minutes, which is something that has to change.
It has been a trend in the last seven games as Zion’s shot attempts have gone way down. In his first eight games of the season, Zion was getting 17.6 shots per game, which is still too low if you ask me. I’d love to see Zion closer to 20 shots per game, as his gravity creates openings for everyone else.
In the last seven games he played, Zion has attempted just 11.8 shots per game, basically role player numbers when it comes to attempts.
The New Orleans Pelicans are still trying to figure out what they can be offensively, and it’s good to have options, but it may be time to make an effort to get their most efficient offensive player more shots, especially in games when the 3-pointers aren’t falling.
He not only gives them a consistent offensive weapon, but gets the other team in foul trouble and creates better shots for his teammates. The Pelicans need to find a balance between the two styles they’ve employed this season to get Zion more shots while keeping the shooters involved.