Even without Ryan Anderson, NOLA leads NBA in 3s
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Imagine the impact it might have on Golden State’s vaunted perimeter attack if Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry were to be removed from the lineup. Through the first two weeks of the 2013-14 regular season, the New Orleans Pelicans have experienced something similar to that, playing without Ryan Anderson (fractured toe). While Curry set a single-season all-time record for three-pointers made in 2012-13 with 272, Anderson ranked second in the league at 213.
Given Anderson’s early-season injury absence in 2013-14, you might think that the Pelicans would falter in the three-point shooting category, but that’s been anything but the case. It’s a testament to the type of shooting depth the Pelicans have assembled that they’re still No. 1 in the NBA in three-point percentage (43.8). With Anderson sidelined, four other capable long-range marksmen have picked up the slack, making New Orleans the most accurate team from beyond the arc among the 30 clubs. Anderson’s upcoming return to the lineup will add another weapon to the mix, but in the meantime, here’s a closer look at the players who’ve allowed the Pelicans (3-4 entering Tuesday’s game at the Los Angeles Lakers) to maintain their top spot through the opening two weeks of play:
A player who was available to be signed by any NBA team during free agency this summer, Morrow has somehow become of the league’s most overlooked shooters, despite a consistent track record of success. Morrow already entered 2013-14 ranked fifth among all active NBA players in career three-point percentage, but is on an early pace to shatter all of his previous numbers. His 59.1 percent (13-for-22) rate is likely unsustainable, given that the all-time single-season record is Kyle Korver’s 53.6 set in 2009-10, but the sixth-year guard has been outstanding in sparking the offense during his 18.7 minutes per game. Morrow is tied with Dallas forward Jae Crowder as No. 1 in the NBA in three-point percentage (among players with at least 20 attempts).
Appearing healthy after participating in preseason for the first time with New Orleans, Gordon provided an excellent omen when he went 5-for-9 from long range in his initial two exhibition games. He’s carried that accuracy into the regular season by connecting on 12 of his 25 three-point attempts, which equates to 48 percent (tied for 12th among all NBA players with at least 20 tries). He’s made at least one three-pointer in all seven games.
The 2013 Eastern Conference All-Star is known more for his slick, ambidextrous drives to the hoop than his perimeter exploits, but he’s an underrated shooter at 37.5 percent for his career from beyond the arc. Holiday’s 7-for-16 accuracy in the early going has him at 43.8 percent; his best single-season rate in Philadelphia was 39.0 as a rookie in 2009-10. Incidentally, the UCLA product has raised his game in the playoffs, connecting on 44.3 percent of his treys in 18 career postseason contests.
Arguably the best perimeter shooter among all NBA backup point guards, Roberts shot 38.6 percent from distance as a rookie in 2012-13. After a tremendous preseason, the Dayton product has just about matched that same percentage, going 6-for-16 from three-point range (37.5). He shot a red-hot 57.9 percent on treys during his seven exhibition games.