Nickeil Alexander-Walker looks for room against Golden State's defense

Behind the Numbers presented by HUB International: Warriors at Pelicans (11/17/19)

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

A look at three key numbers related to Sunday’s game at the Smoothie King Center between Golden State and New Orleans (6 p.m. Central, Fox Sports New Orleans, ESPN Radio New Orleans 100.3 FM):

1, 7: Rank among the 30 NBA teams in minutes with at least one rookie on the floor for Golden State and New Orleans, respectively. The Warriors definitely did not expect to lead the league in that category when the season began, but widespread injuries have led to large roles for Eric Paschall (370 minutes, second on the Warriors’ roster) and Jordan Poole (354, third). Meanwhile, despite No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williamson not playing a regular season minute yet, New Orleans has leaned much more on first-year pros than most teams, with Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes both surpassing 100 minutes of playing time this week. Golden State is third in total points scored by rookies with 392, behind only Memphis (Ja Morant was the No. 2 pick in June) and Miami (Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro are off to productive starts). New Orleans’ collection of newcomers has accumulated 201 points, including 79 by Alexander-Walker (the guard from Virginia Tech tallied more than one-third of those Saturday against the Heat, racking up 27). Hayes has scored 67 points; Nicolo Melli accounts for 53; the other deuce came from Zylan Cheatham in his NBA debut Saturday.

7: Consecutive games New Orleans has trotted out a different starting lineup from the previous game, a streak that easily could reach eight Sunday, unless the Pelicans somehow repeat Saturday’s alignment of Jrue Holiday, Frank Jackson, E’Twaun Moore, Kenrich Williams and Derrick Favors. Working against the likelihood of that happening is the fact that both Jackson (neck) and Favors (back) were forced to leave Saturday’s loss in Miami by halftime due to injuries. The last time New Orleans managed to field the same first string in two straight games occurred Oct. 31 and Nov. 2, consisting of a quintet of Lonzo Ball, Holiday, Brandon Ingram, Nicolo Melli and Jahlil Okafor. Ball, Ingram and Okafor all sat out the Saturday matchup against the Heat. Playing without All-Star guards Stephen Curry recently and Klay Thompson all season, Golden State has been forced to shuffle just as much as New Orleans – both teams have already used nine different starting fives.

-4.4, -10.0: Net rating for New Orleans and Golden State, respectively, since Oct. 29, the day after the Warriors posted a 134-123 road victory against the Pelicans in the Smoothie King Center. Neither team has fared well overall since then, but the Pelicans have been significantly more competitive statistically than the Warriors over the ensuing three weeks, ranking No. 15 in offense and No. 25 in defense (Golden State is 11 spots worse than New Orleans offensively during the same timeframe, as well as four spots lower defensively). Golden State is 1-9 since beating New Orleans three days before Halloween, with the lone win coming vs. Portland on Nov. 4. The Pelicans have gone 3-5 (2-2 at home), beating Denver, Charlotte and the Clippers.

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