2013-14 Season in Review: Brian Roberts
Pelicans.com continues its look back at the 2013-14 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:
NBA experience: Two seasons with Pelicans
Games played/started: 72/42
Just two years ago, Roberts was in the midst of an ultra-successful pro career overseas, but in his mid-20s, he decided to make one final attempt to break into the NBA. Fast forward to the end of the 2013-14 regular season, and the 28-year-old has established himself as a bona fide backup point guard in the league. He also put his name in some elite statistical company, finishing his second NBA season ranked No. 1 in free-throw percentage (94.0). Scan through NBA.com’s page of individual statistical champions from the past season and you’ll see Roberts alongside stars such as Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Anthony Davis.
“That’s a crazy accomplishment,” Roberts said of leading all NBA players in 2013-14, with one of the best single-season percentages in league history. “It’s obviously not something I set out to do at the beginning of the year, but as things unfolded, it was something that was kind of on my mind. To have that is something that’s special and something I’ll never forget.”
Roberts also never planned on starting more than half of New Orleans’ games this season, but a Jrue Holiday season-ending injury in January elevated the University of Dayton product into the first unit. Roberts averaged 11.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists as a starter.
Unfortunately for Roberts, he couldn’t completely escape the team-wide injury bug, battling an ankle sprain that limited him to fewer than 10 minutes in his final two appearances, April 11 at Oklahoma City and April 16 vs. Houston. Roberts was able to get on the floor for 4:02 against the Rockets in the season finale, which allowed him to make exactly enough free throws on the season (125) to qualify for the NBA individual title. He sat out the previous two games, jeopardizing his chances to become the official champion.
“It was tough on us,” Roberts said of the impact of injuries on the Pelicans. “A lot of guys were put in positions where they didn’t set out to be in initially, (but) it was an opportunity for guys to come in and show what they could do. I think a lot of us did that. You can’t really control injuries. It’s just a part of the game. It was rough. We figured out a way to keep fighting and competing.”
TOP THREE BRIAN ROBERTS GAMES OF 2013-14
#3: Feb. 5, 2014 – Atlanta at New Orleans
Roberts had two of his best games of the season against the playoff-qualifying Hawks, averaging 17.5 points and 5.5 assists in the pair of victories. In the early-February matchup, he dropped in 19 points (one point shy of his season-high 20 at Charlotte) while registering six assists and two steals. Roberts scored eight points in the final 5:21, spearheading New Orleans to a 105-100 comeback win.
#2: March 4, 2014 – New Orleans at L.A. Lakers
The Pelicans ended an eight-game losing streak in entertaining fashion, behind a prolific offensive attack that generated 132 points at Staples Center. Roberts’ accurate jumper keyed a 19-point outing that featured 6-for-10 shooting from the field. The Pelicans piled up 67 points in the first half, then followed that up with 65 more after intermission.
#1: Feb. 7, 2014 – Minnesota at New Orleans
Capping a 6-2 midseason stretch for the Pelicans that also included wins over Detroit, Orlando, Cleveland, Chicago and Atlanta, Roberts finished with 16 points and six assists. In a game televised nationally by ESPN, the Pelicans trailed the Timberwolves 71-61 through three quarters, but held a 37-20 edge in the fourth for a 98-91 win. Roberts nailed two critical jumpers in the final 1:27.