Nikola Mirotic, Greg Monroe would put Pelicans back in playoff picture

Nikola Mirotic, Greg Monroe would put Pelicans back in playoff picture


Nikola Mirotic, Greg Monroe would put Pelicans back in playoff picture

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When the New Orleans Pelicans lost superstar DeMarcus Cousins to a ruptured Achilles, it could have meant an end to their playoff pursuits.

The Pelicans will receive a non-traditional big man who, much like Cousins, is more than capable of shooting from long distance. He is able to provide more to an offense than someone who would simply play well in the post and near the basket.

He has actually scored 0.6 more three-pointers per game than Cousins, who was shooting well from beyond the arc this season.

As we explained on Saturday, Mirotic has been the most efficient spot-up shooter in the league this season. Cousins was the overall leader in points scored on spot-up possessions.

The former Chicago forward has been particularly impressive on corner attempts. He is shooting 15-of-29 (51.7 percent) on these three-pointers so far this season.

Simply put, Mirotic had found many ways to score for the Bulls. Only two players have been more efficient than Mirotic (1.67 points per possession) on putback opportunities, among those who have had as many opportunities.

New Orleans will still be able to add recently waived big man Greg Monroe, who would be more of a traditional player in the post for the Pelicans. They have tons of roster flexibility as well as cap flexibility from a hard exception after losing injured Alexis Ajinca.

The team will desperately need another big man after trading away Omer Asik.

Monroe, 27, is originally from Lousiana and would help as a complementary option to Mirotic. His defensive rebound rate (29.5 percent) since he was traded from the Bucks is better than all healthy players on the Pelicans so far this season.

Among those with as many opportunities last season, only four players were more efficient than Monroe (1.23 points per possession) when in a pick-and-roll offense as the roll man.

Only four players with high-volume possessions scored more frequently in transition offense than Monroe (65.8 percent) did last season. This is one of the most frequent play types for New Orleans.

Similarly, only five players in the league who have had as many shot attempts as he has had near the rim had a better field goal percentage than Monroe (71.2 percent) since he was traded to the Suns in November. The Pelicans have taken tons of shot opportunities within five feet of the basket.

New Orleans would remain solid in the frontcourt with these three players. It’s no Boogie but it’s still better than what most teams will receive from their big men.

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