Who is the New Orleans Pelicans’ best scorer?

Zion Williamson & Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson & Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

With no NBA basketball being played until Thursday, we figured we would use the time off to take a look at Cerebro Sports’ 5-Metric Suite to see which New Orleans Pelicans’ players perform the best in certain statistical categories.

For this installment, we look at scoring ability through the lens of Cerebro’s Pure Scoring Prowess (PSP) metric. According to the website, PSP is “a scoring metric that combines volume and efficiency to show the purest scorers.”

Similar to their 3-Point Efficiency (3PE) metric from our article looking at the team’s best three-point shooters, Cerebro’s PSP is a helpful stat because it provides more context than traditional measurements of scoring, like points per game (PPG).

If you haven’t yet read that article, here is a hypothetical for you to work through to help you understand the importance of a metric that accounts for both volume and efficiency.

Say you have two players, Player A and Player B. Say that Player A scored 30 points, while Player B only scored 24 points in that same game. With only that information available, most people would think that Player A was the better scorer.

But what if we then told you that Player A required 30 shots to get those 30 points, while Player B only needed 14 shots to reach the 24-point
mark. Would that change your opinion? It would surely change mine.

Remember, at its core, basketball is a game of efficiency. The team that wins is usually the team that can make the most of each individual possession. So, the best scorers are the ones who can score a ton while also not eating up too many scoring chances in the process. And it would stand to reason that the best measure of scoring accounts for that blend of volume and efficiency. That’s what we have with PSP.

With this established, let’s take a look at the PSP score of all Pelicans’ players with at least 20 games played this season.

And for all of our percentile people, here is where each player’s PSP score puts them in comparison to the rest of the league (minimum 20 games played).

The list pretty much explains itself, but one thing I do want to highlight is the important lesson that can be learned from Zion Williamson’s standing in comparison to Brandon Ingram.

Both are wonderful scorers. But it seems as though sometimes people presume Ingram to be the better scorer because of the breadth of his scoring arsenal and the aesthetically-pleasing nature of his execution. Meanwhile, Williamson’s bucket-getting ability is often downplayed because of his superhuman stature.

This isn’t too different than the way people used to view Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Bryant was the surgical mid-post magician, capable of draining jumpers despite multiple defenders occupying his air space. O’Neal was the brute. All he did was catch, dribble, and dunk. Rinse and repeat. 

But keep this in mind, while both brands are highly impactful and absolutely essential to winning at the highest levels, a good easy shot-getter (Williamson and O’Neal) is almost always more valuable than even the greatest tough shot-makers (Ingram and Bryant).

This maxim is illustrated by the fact that in every season the dynamic duo donned the Purple and Gold together, O’Neal had a higher PSP score than Bryant.

Once again, this is not a knock on Ingram and Bryant – two of the best scorers to ever grace the hardwood. This is just a reminder of how supremely valuable players like Williamson and O’Neal can be as scorers.

If you enjoyed this statistical overview, be sure to keep checking the website this week for a look at how the team stacks up in Cerebro’s other archetype metrics.

Next. Who is the Pelicans' best three-point shooter?. dark