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A Couple of Stuffed Birds

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Under Monty Williams, Tyreke Evans and Omer Asik have seen the number of their blocked shot attempts spike.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

On the season, the Pelicans have seen their shots blocked 234 times. Only the Magic (246) and the Kings (241) have had to duck more times.

Last season, the Pels were rejected more (504) than any other team save the Philadelphia Sixers (558). Interestingly under Monty Williams, New Orleans has placed in the top-6 in this category in all of his seasons save his rookie campaign as head coach.

Two Stuffed Birds

In examining the individual rates, two core Pelicans stand above the rest. Below, the players are listed in order of the number of field goal attempts that have been blocked, with their corresponding rank among the rest of the NBA in parenthesis. The last statistic is the percentage that each player's field goal attempts have resulted in rejection.

Player Number of Rejections Rejection %
Tyreke Evans 60 (1) 10.4%
Omer Asik 46 (8) 26.1%
Jrue Holiday 28 (53) 5.5%
Anthony Davis 27 (59) 4.4%
Ryan Anderson 15 (159) 3.0%
Eric Gordon 13 (184) 7.4%

It probably comes as no surprise to see that Evans and Asik rank so poorly. Evans is second in the league with 457 total drives to the rim (only behind Ty Lawson's 469). The problem is his 38.7 FG% on these attempts. Evans misses more than anyone else whose game is this dependent on driving to the hoop, and a big reason is that simply too many of his shots are getting thrown back in his face.

On the other hand, Asik might have the worst rejection percentage in the league among NBA regulars. NBA Savant does not list rejection percentages, but I'd wager it's probably king because over 1/4 of his Asik's 176 field goal attempts this season have been turned away by the opposition. That's quite a dismal figure for a player who stands a legitimate 7 feet tall with a girth of over 250 pounds.

For instance, other identical type of athletes who enjoy living in the paint area do not suffer similarly. Andrew Bogut has been blocked 5 times out of 138 shot attempts. Jared Sullinger just 23 times out of 477 attempts (and more than half of those attempts have come in the restricted area). Al Jefferson has been turned away 27 out of 523 attempts.

Past History

When examining last season's data, all the Pelicans' rejection percentages are more or less in line with this year's results except one.

Player Number of Rejections Rejection %
Tyreke Evans 103 (6) 11.5%
Omer Asik 30 (151) 15.8%
Jrue Holiday 29 (160) 6.4%
Anthony Davis 68 (25) 6.8%
Ryan Anderson 13 (286) 3.7%
Eric Gordon 65 (34) 8.0%

Yep, Omer Asik. Well, maybe his reserve role in Houston in the 2013-14 season was responsible for the decrease in shots blocked? Nope. In 2012-13, when Asik was the Rockets starting center, he had 83 of his 614 field goal attempts blocked, good for 13.5%.

In looking beyond the last two seasons, Tyreke Evans stands out in comparison to his Pelican averages.

Year Number of Rejections Rejection %
2014-15 60 (1) 10.4%
2013-14 103 11.5%
2012-13 58 7.6%
2011-12 75 8.3%
2010-11 67 7.2%

As a Sacramento King, Evans didn't suffer the same amount of humiliation as a Pelican. However, his issue seems rather apparent -- Evans is taking a greater % of his shots inside the paint area in New Orleans.

From the stats, Evans and Asik's rejected shot percentages have spiked under Monty Williams. Generally, shots at the rim are ideal, but not when they result in blocks. Tyreke Evans has seen his FG% around the rim (0-3 feet) drop by a good 16 - 19%, with the exact percentage depending on which Pelican and King seasons are compared. Omer Asik's overall field goal percentage has fallen a bit less, but it's still significant ~10%.

Considering the Pelicans average 35.8 shot attempts within 5 feet of the rim, the most in the league, Tyreke Evans and Omer Asik improving their conversion rates would be beneficial to the team's performance. You can bet the Pelicans 25th-worst 55.9 FG% in this area would progress dramatically if Evans decision-making improves and Asik learns how to finish better.