Behind the Numbers presented by HUB International: Pelicans at Timberwolves (2/3/18)

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

A look at three key numbers related to Saturday’s game at Target Center between New Orleans and Minnesota (8 p.m., Fox Sports New Orleans, WRNO 99.5 FM):

8,702: Career points by Anthony Davis, all with New Orleans, making him the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. The five-time All-Star eclipsed David West (8,690) during the fourth quarter of Friday’s 114-100 victory in Oklahoma City. Davis is also No. 1 in team history in scoring average (22.9), with Jamal Mashburn (21.5) second on that list. Davis figures to continue widening the gap on Mashburn and all others in points per game in the near future, because he’s averaged at least 24.3 points in each of the last three-plus seasons, including putting up 26.8 in 2017-18. It took Davis only 380 career games to assume the top spot in New Orleans history; he’s also No. 1 in rebounds and blocks. Incredibly, Davis already has twice as many blocks (890) as any other player in the 16-year history of his franchise. West is second on that rundown with 435 swats, followed by Emeka Okafor’s 280.

29: Minnesota rank in three-point attempts per game (22.0), the fewest in the league other than New York (21.8). While much of the NBA is relying more heavily than ever on perimeter shots, the Timberwolves remain relatively reluctant to fire from deep. Minnesota is barely taking more treys this season than it did in 2016-17 (21.0 attempts per game, last in the NBA), while teams like New Orleans continue to see a spike in that category. The Pelicans rank 13th in attempts per game (29.3), after an average of 26.8 in ’16-17. The team’s current average could easily climb into the 30s over the final months of this season, particularly with sharpshooter Nikola Mirotic joining New Orleans on Saturday in Minneapolis. Mirotic launched 6.4 threes per outing over his 25 games with Chicago prior to being traded to New Orleans. Mirotic is shooting 42.9 percent from beyond the arc.

3: Games separating New Orleans (28-23) and Minnesota (33-22) in the Western Conference standings, including only one game in the loss column. At one point not long ago anyone would’ve scoffed at the notion of the Pelicans approaching the Timberwolves in the West race, but New Orleans has gone 7-3 in its last 10 games, while Minnesota is only 4-6. The Timberwolves are the conference’s current No. 4 seed, which brings with it homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Both teams are trying to end postseason droughts, but Minnesota’s is much more extensive, dating back to its last trip in 2004, when Kevin Garnett was the star player. New Orleans reached the West playoff bracket in 2015.