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Behind the Numbers: Pelicans at Spurs (10/13/19)

SAN ANTONIO – A look at three key numbers related to Sunday’s preseason game at the AT&T Center between New Orleans and San Antonio (3 p.m. Central, ESPN New Orleans 100.3 FM):

71.1: Pelicans No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson’s shooting percentage from the field over his first three NBA preseason games. The muscular but also athletic and quick rookie forward has put on an impressive display of efficiency during wins over Atlanta, Chicago and Utah, including making 21 of his 25 attempts in the last two games vs. the Bulls and Jazz, which equates to a scorching 84 percent. For what it’s worth and for comparison’s sake, Utah center Rudy Gobert led the NBA in 2018-19 with a field-goal percentage of 66.9 and no non-center in the league shot over 58.0 (Giannis Antetokounmpo topped power forwards at 57.8). Williamson sank his first three-pointer of preseason Friday vs. Utah and is 1/3 on treys, meaning he has made 26 of his 35 two-point shots (74.3 percent).

51.6, 50.0: Pelicans No. 17 overall pick Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s shooting percentage from the field and three-point range, respectively, over his first three preseason games. The Virginia Tech product and combo guard had a rough shooting night at Chicago on Wednesday, going 4/12 overall, but he still has made over half of his shots from the field, after going 7/9 vs. Utah. In July, the 21-year-old earned first-team All-NBA Summer League honors in Las Vegas by immediately excelling after a late start due to trade rules, and has continued to perform well during the exhibition slate. Despite logging fewer than 20 minutes in each of New Orleans’ games, Alexander-Walker is averaging 15.7 points and 4.0 assists. After a four-turnover preseason debut at Atlanta, the 6-foot-5, 204-pounder has 11 assists and one turnover. He’s also gone a combined 7/13 from three-point range vs. Chicago and Utah.

40.7: New Orleans three-point percentage while going undefeated. Granted, it’s only preseason and it’s an extremely small sample size, but at least so far the Pelicans have been excellent in an area many NBA analysts listed in previews as a weakness or concern. Led by Alexander-Walker’s nine makes, New Orleans has six players averaging at least one trifecta per game (meaning at least three total buckets), including Frank Jackson (7 for 12), Jrue Holiday (5 for 11) and Josh Hart (5 for 12). On the negative side of the ledger in this category, New Orleans opponents are also shooting over 40 percent, at 40.5. Incidentally, the Pelicans and the opposition have exactly the same field-goal percentage (50.4), but New Orleans has taken 26 more foul shots, led by Williamson’s individual tally of 24 tries (Brandon Ingram is next with 15).

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