Behind the Numbers presented by HUB International: Lakers at Pelicans (3/31/19)
A look at three key numbers related to Sunday’s game at the Smoothie King Center between Los Angeles and New Orleans (5 p.m. Central, Fox Sports New Orleans, WRNO 99.5 FM):
25, 29: Ranking among the 30 NBA teams in three-point percentage for New Orleans and the Lakers, respectively. While every club is constantly looking to make upgrades in the shooting department, that should be an even greater emphasis for these Western Conference squads this summer, because perimeter accuracy has been an issue for much of 2018-19. Phoenix (32.7 percent) is the only NBA team that has been worse from beyond the arc than the Lakers (33.2), while New Orleans (34.4) is a hair from being a bottom-five team in the category. It’s been an even bigger problem area since the All-Star break, with the Lakers placing last at 31.1 percent and the Pelicans third-worst at 33.0. Prior to the midseason hiatus, New Orleans shot 34.8 percent, which ranked 19th in the league.
4, 8: Christian Wood’s rankings among all NBA players since his March 24 debut with New Orleans in total blocked shots and steals, respectively, even though he’s only played 68 minutes over his three appearances (average of 22.7 minutes). Over the past week, Wood has swatted seven shots, trailing only Lakers center JaVale McGee (13 in four games), Detroit’s Andre Drummond (8) and Utah’s Rudy Gobert (8). In terms of steals, Wood has come up with six thefts for New Orleans; every player with more over the past week is a guard, including De’Aaron Fox and Rajon Rondo, who top the NBA with nine steals apiece since March 24. By comparison, while logging 35.3 minutes per game with the Wisconsin Herd in the G League this season, Wood averaged 2.2 blocks and 1.1 steals, so being disruptive on defense is not a completely unexpected skill for the 6-foot-10 forward/center.
136: Total minutes played by New Orleans’ most commonly-used five-man lineup this season, a quintet that includes Jrue Holiday (out for season), Nikola Mirotic (traded to Milwaukee), Wesley Johnson (traded to Washington), E’Twaun Moore (probably out for season) and Anthony Davis (game-time decision for Sunday’s game against Lakers). By comparison, there are 10 NBA teams boasting lineups that have played 500-plus minutes together, topped by Oklahoma City’s 856 minutes of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Steven Adams, Jerami Grant and Terrance Ferguson. New Orleans’ most familiar lineup ranks 75th in the league in terms of minutes played; the second-most common group is 91st (116 minutes of Holiday, Moore, Davis, Elfrid Payton and Julius Randle). The team’s projected starting lineup entering training camp of Holiday, Moore, Davis, Payton and Mirotic only started five games together but went 5-0.