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Jrue Holiday set to take flight, Eric Gordon probably not so much

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Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday look like they'll enjoy the quicker pace, but Eric Gordon might end up having a tougher time adapting more than most believe.

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, I took a look at the transition data for the team's main guards: Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday. All three posted below average numbers, but Evans displayed the most potential based on previous conversion rates and the propensity to always push the issue.

Today, we're going to have a look at the how the triumvirate performed in uptempo games. As Peyton mentioned several months ago, the Pelicans seemed to have fared better in quicker paced games than slower ones. Does this theory hold true for all three of these guards?

No, as the tables will show, one player actually sticks out like a sore thumb. Let's kick things off by having a look at some of the player's averages from the 15 fastest paced games in 2014-15 according to Pelicans Basketball Reference Advanced Game Log.

Player Points Per Game Field Goal Percentage Field Goal Attempts Assists per game Turnovers per game
Tyreke Evans 17.5 46.8% 14.8 7.1 3.6
Eric Gordon 9.6 34.5% 9.7 2.1 2.4
Jrue Holiday 16.5 48.7% 13.8 7.2 2.5

The numbers for Tyreke and Jrue are amazingly identical. Outside of an extra turnover by Evans, they appeared equally potent and both were well above their average production for the season. Conversely, Gordon finished well behind this duo, and as you'll see, well below his 2014-15 averages.

Player Points Per Game Field Goal Percentage Field Goal Attempts Assists per game Turnovers per game
Tyreke Evans 16.6 44.7% 14.7 6.6 3.1
Eric Gordon 13.4 41.4% 11.4 3.8 2.0
Jrue Holiday 14.8 44.6% 13.4 6.9 2.3

For a bit of additional insight, below are the numbers for the trio from the Pelicans 15 slowest paced games according to Basketball Reference.

Player Points Per Game Field Goal Percentage Field Goal Attempts Assists per game Turnovers per game
Tyreke Evans 17.0 45.1% 15.1 6.8 2.9
Eric Gordon 13.7 43.9% 10.7 4.2 1.9
Jrue Holiday 13.7 40.0% 15.0 3.3 3.6

Interesting stuff. It appears Tyreke is up for anything (not surprising for a Type A basketball personality), Eric Gordon prefers a slower game while Holiday definitely does not. To be fair, Holiday played in only 3 of the 15 slowest paced games from last season; therefore, for a stronger overall sample size let's go back and have a look at the numbers from the 2013-14 season.

Here are the trio's numbers from the Pelicans 15 fastest paced games from the 2013-14 season.

Player Points Per Game Field Goal Percentage Field Goal Attempts Assists per game Turnovers per game
Tyreke Evans 18.9 48.0% 13.6 4.8 2.8
Eric Gordon 13.1 42.1% 11.7 3.3 2.6
Jrue Holiday 14.5 49.0% 12.3 7.8 2.8

Once again, Tyreke and Jrue appear to have enjoyed a quicker pace while Eric Gordon did not as he lagged well behind. For comparison's sake, below are the players averages from the 2013-14 regular season.

Player Points Per Game Field Goal Percentage Field Goal Attempts Assists per game Turnovers per game
Tyreke Evans 14.5 43.6% 12.5 5.0 2.4
Eric Gordon 15.4 43.6% 12.8 3.3 2.1
Jrue Holiday 14.3 44.7% 13.4 7.9 3.1

Similar seasonal averages -- man can some statistics be deceiving before they get broken down accordingly!

And before we forget, their averages from the 15 slowest paced games for the 2013-14 season.

Player Points Per Game Field Goal Percentage Field Goal Attempts Assists per game Turnovers per game
Tyreke Evans 15.4 51.0% 11.2 4.7 2.2
Eric Gordon 17.6 46.4% 12.8 2.9 1.6
Jrue Holiday 13.0 40.0% 14.0 8.2 3.0

Once more, Evans and his overly aggressive nature proved able to play at any speed. On the other hand, a trend has emerged for the other two guards: Eric Gordon prefers something more deliberate, when say the Pelicans likely ran a time-consuming set offense, while Holiday most certainly did not.

To satisfy my curiosity, I went back and looked at both Gordon and Holiday's 2012-13 seasons, Eric with the Hornets, his first season of his max contract extension, and Jrue with the 76ers, his final season in Philadelphia.

Player Points Per Game Field Goal Percentage Field Goal Attempts Assists per game Turnovers per game
Jrue Holiday (PHI 14 highest paced games) 21.1 45.5% 17.4 8.9 4.2
Jrue Holiday Season Avg 17.7 43.1% 16.5 8.0 3.7
Jrue Holiday (PHI 15 lowest paced games) 16.6 43.6% 15.3 7.9 2.8

This data strengthens the argument that Holiday does indeed prefer to play at a faster clip. As with Monty Williams, Doug Collins did his starting point guard no favors by attempting to slow down the pace of a game.

Although the 4.2 turnovers per game are alarming, it can mitigated by the fact he was 22 years old, and for the first time, had the full weight of an offense on his shoulders. (He didn't have to share the ball on the perimeter with Andre Iguodala, oftentimes the first option in Philly.) Considering Holiday's efficiency the last two seasons in New Orleans, it's rather safe to say he has moved past this former issue.

One thought that should immediately come to everyone's mind, though, is that Holiday's skills have been mismanaged for the first 6 NBA seasons of his career. Despite troublesome leg injuries, he was born to run not walk. Indeed, how often has the eye-test confirmed Holiday's athleticism? Say when he's met Russell Westbrook at the rim and rejected the shot of one of the league's most physically gifted specimens or dropped a 30-point- 9-assist-5-steal game against the Golden State Warriors, the leagues best defensive team from last year.

Player Points Per Game Field Goal Percentage Field Goal Attempts Assists per game Turnovers per game
Eric Gordon (NOH 15 highest paced games) 20.4 43.8% 15.2 3.4 3.1
Eric Gordon Season Average 17.0 40.2% 13.9 3.3 2.8
Eric Gordon (NOH 15 lowest paced games) 16.0 41.2% 14.6 2.9 2.3

Unlike Holiday, Gordon's 2012-13 numbers seem to conflict with his previous two seasons as a Pelican; however, two significant points need to be made. First, Gordon missed 14 of the possible 30 games of this sample size (thus further likely reducing it's statistical significance). Second, the 2012-13 Hornets average pace over their fastest 15 games was 93.97.

For the 2013-14 season, that average was 97.9, and it was 97.1 for 2014-15. That's a striking difference of up to 4 additional possessions a game. Last season, the Golden State Warriors led the league in pace at 98.3 and the Houston Rockets finished second at 96.5. The Atlanta Hawks finished smack dab in the middle (15th) at 93.9. There are vast differences between these gears.

Yet, a lot of influential opinions have lately climbed on board the Gordon bandwagon. Last week, David Aldridge mentioned his name before either Holiday or Evans.

They don't have anything near the personnel the Suns did in their best days (y'all forget how devastating Amar'e Stoudemire was before his knees gave out on him), but guys like Eric Gordon, if he stays healthy, should thrive in the system.

John Reid tweeted the following several days ago:

Look, first and foremost, I hope they and every other hopeful turns out correct. It would serve the Pelicans well if all of the team's major components benefit from Alvin Gentry's new system, not just Anthony Davis and a select few. Unfortunately, the statistics don't agree and when you include last week's look at transition numbers, there exists enough evidence to forewarn fans that Gordon isn't set to take flight nearly as high as everyone hopes.

If by some miracle Gordon can rediscover some more of that lost athleticism (because honestly that's what it's going to take after being grounded for years in New Orleans), then his odds of a statistical jump would greatly improve. Until that occurs, though, fans and experts alike should be more excited and talk about the potential of Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday instead.

Hey, 2 out of 3 wouldn't be so bad, especially when the third member can sit behind the three point line all day and make opponents pay for not blanketing him a la Kyle Korver. Just please don't get too caught up by Eric Gordon's perimeter prowess from last season. Although he'll likely get more looks under Gentry, it doesn't mean we should magically expect for the rest of his game to flourish.

Now, Jrue Holiday on the other hand, one should be contemplate moving a lot more chips onto the bet line. (Of course, provided the house sells insurance for injury risk.)