In the 2012 NBA Draft, the New Orleans Pelicans (then the Hornets) were able to grab the future of their franchise with number one overall pick by selecting Anthony Davis. Davis didn’t disappoint in his rookie season as he showed off his elite defensive and rebounding skills, as well as showing more offensive skills than some people expected.
This summer the Pelicans started the process of building around Davis with a bang. Not only were they able to land restricted free-agent Tyreke Evans via a sign-and-trade, but, possibly more importantly, they were able to trade for point guard Jrue Holiday in exchange for the rights to Nerlens Noel.
Holiday had a breakout season last year with the Philadelphia 76ers. In 78 games he averaged 17.7 points, eight assists and 4.2 rebounds per game, all of which are career-highs. Holiday also shot a decent 43.1 percent from the floor and 36.8 percent from long-range, even with his efficiency numbers not being helped by a rather sub-par supporting cast.
There’s no doubt that this is a Pelicans team loaded with talent. However, the question that remains to be answered in New Orleans is how well Holiday and Davis will be able to work together this season.
Obviously they will need some time to develop chemistry and a rapport with one another on the floor. If that happens, though, their games, particularly in the pick-and-roll, have the chance to meld into something special.
Last season, the Sixers ran the pick-and-roll 20.9 percent of the time, more than any other set in their offense. Likewise, the Pelicans ran the pick-and-roll more than any other set, running it 25 percent of the time. However, it’s worth noting how much more successful the Pelicans were when the screener finished the play. The Sixers averaged just 0.84 points per possession in the pick-and-roll when the screener finished the play while the Pelicans averaged 1.05 points per possession in the same situation.
The biggest reason for the Pelicans’ success in the pick-and-roll in contrast to the Sixers’ is the quality of their big men. Davis is without question a more quality player and a better pick-and-roll option than either Spencer Hawes or Thaddeus Young are, meaning that Holiday should have much more success distributing out of the pick-and-roll.
More than that, though, Holiday should be able to be even more successful when he keeps the rock in the pick-and-roll. Last season, 38 percent of Holiday’s offense came with him finishing out of the pick-and-roll. Despite having merely average partners in the pick-and-roll, which allows defenses to put more focus on him in those sets, Holiday still averaged 0.78 points per possession, the 80th best rate in the league.
Pairing Holiday and Davis in the pick-and-roll could potentially be a lethal combination for the Pelicans this season. As I said, they will have to develop chemistry with one another, but there’s no denying that these are two talented and versatile players that New Orleans has paired together. If everything pans out like I’m sure they are hoping it will, this could be one of the better guard-big duos in the league.
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