One skill that always scales well on great teams is passing. Great passers generally have an easier time fitting next to high-level offensive players. This makes sense because, after all, basketball is a team game.
So, who is the New Orleans Pelicans’ best passer? That’s the question we will attempt to shine some light on in this post. To do this, we will turn to Ben Taylor’s “Passer Rating” metric, which can be found on thinkingbasketball.net.
In my humble opinion, Passer Rating is one of the best publicly-available passing metrics we have. For those wondering, it is basically an estimate of a player’s passing ability on an ‘approximately’ 1-10 scale. I like it because it is not nearly as context-dependent as a more traditional statistic like assists per game (players with better play-finishing teammates can rack up more assists than players surrounded by poor shooters).
Now, keep in mind this metric is purely measuring a player’s passing ability. This is not a measure of a player’s playmaking ability (a player’s ability to create shots for their teammates).
With that squared away, here is the Passer Rating of every Pelican who played enough minutes during the 2022-23 season to be eligible to be included in the database.
New Orleans Pelicans’ Passer Ratings 2022-23 (League-wide Percentile)
Dyson Daniels – 8.3 (96th)
Brandon Ingram – 7.1 (85th)
CJ McCollum – 6.9 (83rd)
Naji Marshall – 6.1 (73rd)
Larry Nance Jr – 5.8 (68th)
Jose Alvarado – 5.6 (63rd)
Josh Richardson – 5.5 (61st)
Herbert Jones – 4.7 (46th)
Zion Williamson – 3.7 (31st)
Jonas Valanciunas – 3.7 (31st)
Trey Murphy III – 3.3 (22nd)
Interesting. So, the Pelicans’ best passer (based on this metric) is not Brandon Ingram or CJ McCollum (the team’s two leaders in assists per game). It is none other than the rookie Dyson Daniels.
Many fans were becoming critical of Daniels after a poor inaugural scoring campaign led to his minutes deteriorating as the season went on. However, there is a lot more to the game of basketball than just scoring. And this measure proves that Daniels still brought plenty of value to the table during his rookie campaign. The future is certainly promising for the Pelicans’ 2022 lottery pick.
One thing that probably comes as a surprise to many individuals who follow the team is how low Zion Williamson ranks in this measure. There are two variables to keep in mind with that. First, Williamson is still very young (not even 23 yet), and players almost always improve as passers as they age. And second, Williamson’s playmaking isn’t hindered too much by his passing because his scoring gravity creates so many open shots for his teammates (kind of like Michael Jordan).
Lastly, it looks like Trey Murphy III still has a ways to go as a passer. That could be one of the facets of his game that sees a leap next year as he tries to make his case for the Most Improved Player of the Year award.