One Team, One Stat: No D In New Orleans

From Media Day until opening night, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann will provide a key stat for each team in the league and show you, with film and analysis, why it matters. Up next is the New Orleans Pelicans, who hope not to defend like the Hornets did last season.

The basics
NOH Rank
W-L 27-55 26
Pace 90.9 30
OffRtg 102.7 17
DefRtg 107.6 28
NetRtg -5.0 25

The stat

111.2 - Points allowed per 100 possessions by the Hornets after the All-Star break. They had the worst post-break defense in the league.

The context

Head coach Monty Williams often says that his team has a defensive identity, but the Hornets were the third worst defensive team in the league last season. They were a top-10 defensive rebounding team, but ranked 25th in forcing turnovers and 27th in both 2-point (50.5 percent) and 3-point (37.4 percent) defense.

As the Spurs figured out last season, rebounds are nice, but contesting shots, is, by far, the most important thing you can do defensively.

Lowest % of opponent shots
from mid-range
Team %FGA
New Orleans 23.5%
Charlotte 24.4%
New York 26.0%
Miami 26.3%
Denver 26.4%

The Hornets’ poor shooting defense was, in part, a result of the shots they forced. Only 23.5 percent of their opponents’ shots came from mid-range, the lowest rate in the league. If you want to be a great defense, you need to run your opponents off the 3-point line and keep them out of the paint, and the Hornets didn’t do that enough.

They were particularly awful, allowing a whopping 115.0 points per 100 possessions, in 697 minutes with Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson on the floor together. They basically did everything worse in those minutes. They didn’t defend the 3-point line or paint as well, they didn’t force as many turnovers, they rebounded worse, and they fouled more.

The Orlando Magic ranked 27th offensively last season and went 8-49 after Dec. 20. But on March 4, they scored a ridiculous 72 points in just 25 minutes with Anderson and Davis on the floor, shooting 29-for-47 (62 percent) from the field. Here are some of the defensive lowlights…

Anderson’s primary issue is foot speed. He has a difficult time staying in front of quick guards on pick-and-rolls. Davis, meanwhile, was probably too quick for his own good in his rookie year. He has the potential to be a fantastic defender if he can stay in control more. The Hornets might be better off asking him to contain (stay back on), rather than hedge (jump out on), pick-and-rolls.

That night against the Magic, Robin Lopez was in foul trouble. Now, he’s in Portland. Williams could start Greg Stiemsma or Jason Smith at center, but Anderson and Davis will spend a lot of time on the floor together and they’ll have to defend a lot better than they did last season.

New Orleans added talent this summer, but Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday can’t improve this team as much as better defense can.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

8 Comments

  1. Jester says:

    “New Orleans added talent this summer, but Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday can’t improve this team as much as better defense can.”

    This is a pretty goofy statement. Jrue Holiday is a clear upgrade defensively from Greivis Vasquez. Holiday is much more capable of fighting through screens than Vasquez (who is a favorite player of mine), which will limit Anderson’s and Davis’ exposure to the high pick and roll. Also, Evans has all the tools to be a good defender, but has been inconsistent on that end. It will be interesting to see how he plays in the Pelicans system.

    Eric Gordon is in the best shape he has been in since being traded to New Orleans (the media day pics definitely support this), and he can be an elite perimeter defender when healthy. The big concern is at the 5. To be successful, they will need Davis to defend opposing centers effectively.

  2. brains! says:

    underdog… you’ve got a point.

  3. underdog says:

    They should trade for Asik… Anderson for Asik

  4. celentano says:

    props for antony d.,schools dwightmare with a nice block against the rockets!these days dwight is used to loose a lot games
    harden or not ain’t gonna be easy to clinch a play-off spot for the rockets.

  5. okc2014 says:

    I agree. I can’t believe I just agreed w/ you, of all people…..scary.

  6. I think its a joke to even consider the Pelicans as a playoff team. Sorry ESPN.

  7. Game Time says:

    GO PELICANS!!