One Team, One Stat: Too Many Layups


VIDEO: Schuhmann’s Advanced Stats: New Orleans Pelicans

NBA.com’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2015-16 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the New Orleans Pelicans, who couldn’t protect the rim.

The stat

20151020_nop_opp_rest

The context

20151020_nop_basicsShots in the restricted area are the most valuable shots on the floor, worth 1.20 points per attempt, league-wide, last season. The numbers say that it’s more important to defend those shots than to prevent them, but there is a correlation between preventing them and overall defensive efficiency.

The Pelicans didn’t prevent them at all. And they were a bottom-10 defensive team, even after trading for center Omer Asik for the explicit purpose of helping them on that end of the floor. New Orleans (28, 25, 22) is one of three teams — Detroit (23, 26, 21) and Sacramento (29, 23, 27) are the others — that has ranked in the bottom 10 in defensive efficiency in each of the last three seasons.

When Asik and Anthony Davis were on the floor together last season, the Pelicans did a better job of protecting the basket, and their defense was at a top-10 level. But they played just 21 minutes per game together and when one or both was off the floor, the Pelicans’ defense fell off dramatically.

20151020_nop_asik-davis

Davis led the league in blocked shots (playing just 68 games), but whether he was playing power forward or center, the Pelicans’ defensive scheme often took him too far away from the basket. Blocking jump shots is cool, but defending layups is more important.

New coach Alvin Gentry will open up the Pelicans’ offense, which ranked ninth last season. But assistant coach Darren Erman, the guy in charge of improving the defense, may be the more important addition on the New Orleans bench.

Davis and the other New Orleans bigs won’t venture out as far when defending pick-and-rolls. In a Q & A in July, Gentry said that better defense will start with “better perimeter defense out front.”

If a new pick-and-roll scheme and improved dribble containment can result in better rim protection, the Pelicans could take another big step forward this season.

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

One Comment

  1. Grant Becker says:

    This is interesting, having Gentry around will probably help – even though he’s an offensive coach. Read up on why the Pelicans are likely to improve right here: http://thecollegetailgate.com/2015/08/02/nba-teams-primed-to-improve-western-conference/