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Pelicans Excel After Timeouts on Offense

This article includes data from Synergy Sports. Prepare your outrage.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

A funny thing happened yesterday. The Pelicans won a basketball game they had no business winning. Despite being down 11 points with under six minutes to go New Orleans battled back and pulled out an improbable victory. In just ten possessions the Pels scored 19 points. They failed to score just twice (a missed Jimmer Fredette jumper and a bogus charge call on Tyreke Evans). During this span Monty Williams called two timeouts. The Pelicans scored after each.

Monty Williams has been in the crosshairs of many Pelican and non-Pelican basketball fans for quite some time. Monty does not call enough timeouts to stop runs. His rotations are poor. The team relies too much on Tyreke Evans in isolation to conclude games. Alexis Ajinca should start over Omer Asik. He can't draw up quality plays out of timeouts.

That last point, is not true. Not in a "my eyes tell me" kind of way. In a "the statistics overwhelmingly say that idea is incorrect" kind of way.

Synergy Sports Data

The following table is pulled from Synergy Sports. While their public site was closed for good at the beginning of this season their "premium" site is up and running. This is one such piece of data, the top ten offensive teams after a timeout. As you can see from the number of possessions, this is no case of small sample size theater giving the Pelicans an undue edge. %SF stands for shooting fouls draw per possession, an area the Pelicans excel.

Team Possessions PPP %SF
Golden State Warriors 540 0.965 6.5%
Los Angeles Clippers 569 0.958 7.2%
New Orleans Pelicans 587 0.944 10.4%
Miami Heat 565 0.929 10.8%
Phoenix Suns 580 0.928 6.7%
Portland Trail Blazers 600 0.912 6.0%
Atlanta Hawks 576 0.906 8.5%
Dallas Mavericks 628 0.901 6.1%
Sacramento Kings 577 0.896 8.8%
San Antonio Spurs 616 0.894 7.5%

Wait, Who?

That the Warriors and Clippers are the top two teams in the league out of timeouts is no surprise. Steve Kerr has compliments raining down on him daily at this point as he heads up the best team in the league. Mark Jackson would like you to stop disrespecting the caterpillar, however.

Doc Rivers is revered for his abilities drawing up plays. Just search "Doc Rivers ATO" (After Time Out) and read all the beautiful things the internet has wrote about his talent. For instance.

My favorite trait of Doc Rivers’s is his ability to draw up some of the most creative ATO (after timeout) plays you’ll see in today’s NBA. With the Clippers in desperate need of a bucket in crunch time against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, Rivers came through with a beauty once again.

You won't find Monty Williams given such respect. In fact a search of "Monty Williams ATO" does not return a single article praising his abilities to draw up plays. (I do not suggest searching "Monty Williams Wardrobe").

The statistics after half of the season are clear. Williams and this team excels on offense out of timeouts. Third in the entire league. Behind two of the most celebrated coaches.