NBA player comparisons for New Orleans Pelicans rookie Landers Nolley II

Landers Nolley II, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Landers Nolley II, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Despite only having one draft pick in the 2023 NBA Draft (which they used to select Jordan Hawkins), the New Orleans Pelicans added a handful of undrafted rookies to their roster this cycle. One of which was Cincinnati sharpshooter Landers Nolley II.

Being that Nolley went undrafted, his chances of sticking in the league are slim. However, if we look through history, are there any examples of players with similar games to Nolley that ended up panning out in the NBA?

Whenever you compare players to each other, you lose a bit of nuance. However, player comparison is still a necessary evil as it helps provide people with some understanding of what kind of player a prospect could someday become. So, how do we go about it?

While comparing players is an incredibly imperfect science, there are some resources that give you a better chance of identifying accurate comparisons than others. One of those tools is Cerebro Sports’ 5-metric suite, which (among other things) allows you to compare players based on the similarities in their scores in these five skill statistics.

Their five skill metrics are Pure Scoring Prowess (PSP), 3-Point Efficiency (3PE), Floor General Skills (FGS), Around The Rim (ATR), and Defensive Statistical Impact (DSI). To learn more about what all these metrics measure, check out this page right here.

These metrics are based on a soft scale of 0-100, meaning that 0 is the worst and 100 is the best. Although, outlier talents could theoretically surpass that 100 mark in certain skills. For instance, in 2022-23, Stephen Curry (the greatest shooter ever) had a 3PE score of 104.

With that established, here is what Nolley’s 5-metric suite looked like during his redshirt senior season of college (keep in mind, this excludes tournament games):

Nolley II 2022-23 5-Metric Suite (36 games)

PSP: 75

3PE: 89

FGS: 62

ATR: 66

DSI: 73

We then took those numbers and did a global search for all NCAA Division I men’s basketball players since 1980 who had a PSP score between 70 and 80, a 3PE between 80 and 90, an FGS between 56 and 70, an ATR between 55 and 65, and a DSI between 70 and 80.

We also filtered out for usage rate to account for offensive load. Nolley II had a usage percentage (USG%) of 25%. So, we looked for players with a USG% between 20% and 30%. We also had a minimum games played threshold of 20 to avoid any noise clouding our sample.

Interestingly enough, of the 56 player seasons that fit this criteria, 13 of them included guys who have played multiple seasons in the NBA. And a handful of them are even considered to be household names. One thing to keep in mind here, though, is that this is Nolley’s age-23 season we are using for our examination.

The players with similar statistical profiles to Nolley, according to Cerebro Sports’ database, include: Allen Crabbe (age-19 season), Bennedict Mathurin (age-19 season), Cade Cunningham (age-19 season), Chase Budinger (age-19 season), Desmond Bane (age-21 season), Donte DiVincenzo (age-21 season), E’Twaun Moore (age-21 season), Joe Harris (age-21 season), Justin Jackson (age-21 season), Max Strus (age-21 season), Saddiq Bey (age-20 season), Tre Mann (age-19 season), and Wayne Ellington (age-21 season).

While Nolley is older than all these guys were when they posted these statistical seasons, seeing all those names come up in our search (particularly shooters like Bane, Strus, and Ellington) should serve as a good indicator that the Pelicans may have uncovered a hidden gem in the undrafted rookie market.

Next. 10 Players the Pelicans gave up on way too soon. dark