Who is the New Orleans Pelicans’ best big man?

Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Nic Antaya/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 big man ability through the lens of Cerebro’s Around The Rim (ATR) metric. According to the website, ATR is “a rim presence metric[] that combines assist[s], rebounding, and rim protection efficiency (offensive rebounds, blocks, fouls) to show the best big men.”

In our previous installments, we looked at metrics like Floor General Skills (FGS), 3-Point Efficiency (3PE), and Defensive Statistical Impact (DSI), all measures that tend to favor guards, wings, and forwards. Now it’s time we show some love to our bigs.

Historically, bigs have always dominated the interior. So ATR encapsulates the statistical actions that tend to transpire in the painted area.

With this in mind, here are the ATR scores for all Pelicans’ players who have played at least 20 NBA games this season.

And to add some more context, here is what percentile in ATR each player is in compared to the rest of the field (minimum 20 games played).

As we said, this statistic is supposed to highlight the best bigs. So it should come as no surprise to see names like Jonas Valanciunas, Larry Nance Jr., and Willy Hernangomez occupying three of the top-4 spots.

What is telling is that finishing in second in ATR is the 6’6 Zion Williamson. Despite ATR being biased toward seven-footers like Valanciunas (he’s actually 6’11, but you get the point), Williamson still manages to place in the 90th percentile league-wide (with an ATR of 75). Williamson continues to show that he is a physical force, the likes of which we have seldom seen before.

This isn’t dissimilar to a Hall of Famer that Williamson is frequently compared to, Charles Barkley, who, over the course of his 16-year career, had an ATR of 75 or higher in every season. And just like Williamson, he was an undersized big man (also 6’6, per Basketball Reference) holding his own in a metric that favors giants.

If you enjoyed this statistical overview, be sure to click on the story link below to see how our Pelicans fared in Cerebro’s four other archetype metrics.

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