When Lonzo Ball drained a three-pointer early in the second quarter of a March 3 home game vs. Minnesota, Ball’s basket broke New Orleans’ single-season franchise record for most made treys as a team, at 843. There was virtually no acknowledgement of the group statistical achievement, though – and not just because the Pelicans went on to lose to the Timberwolves, before heading to Dallas for a back-to-back on national TV. As it turns out, 2019-20 actually marked the fifth consecutive season that New Orleans’ team record for threes in a regular season has fallen.
Here’s the chart of the team’s total made three-pointers in each of the past 10 seasons, with ’12-13 representing the final Hornets season and ’13-14 being the first as the rebranded Pelicans (rank among the 30 NBA teams in three-pointers made in parentheses, via NBA.com):
2019-20: 896 (3) … have only played 64 games
2018-19: 842 (22)
2017-18: 837 (18)
2016-17: 768 (14)
2015-16: 702 (15)
2014-15: 586 (19)
2013-14: 486 (29)
2012-13: 535 (19)
2011-12: 239 (30) … 66-game season due to lockout
2010-11: 444 (22)
Keep in mind, the ’19-20 club breezed past the franchise three-point record despite an abbreviated schedule, having topped the output from last season’s squad already in the aforementioned Game 61 vs. Minnesota. How did the current Pelicans do it? By assembling the deepest collection of three-point gunners in team history, as well as arguably the roster with the most perimeter threats in the NBA this season. When play was suspended March 11, the Pelicans were the league’s lone team with five players who’ve connected on at least 110 treys in ’19-20 for their squad (Dallas is the only other NBA team with five shooters who’ve drained 100-plus). Here’s the list of teams with the widest array of players who connected at least 100 times from beyond the arc this season (via NBA.com):
Dallas Mavericks (5)
Tim Hardaway 185, Luka Doncic 156, Seth Curry 136, Kristaps Porzingis 126, Maxi Kleber 107
Boston Celtics (4)
Jayson Tatum 167, Kemba Walker 165, Marcus Smart 128, Jaylen Brown 107
Brooklyn Nets (4)
Joe Harris 152, Taurean Prince 146, Spencer Dinwiddie 123, Garrett Temple 112
LA Clippers (4)
Paul George 133, Kawhi Leonard 107, Lou Williams 107, Landry Shamet 105
The fact that New Orleans has played 64 games this season also provides a telling illustration of how much the NBA has changed in the past decade. Eight seasons ago, during a lockout-shortened ’11-12 campaign, in 66 games New Orleans went 239/777 as a team from three-point range, meaning those Hornets actually attempted fewer threes (777) than the current Pelicans have already made (896) this season.
Marco Belinelli was the most prolific three-point shooter on that ’11-12 squad, sinking 107 threes, which would’ve ranked him sixth on the ’19-20 Pelicans. Next behind Belinelli was Greivis Vasquez with 43 (in Vasquez’s 1,706 minutes played). As a Pelicans rookie, guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker sank 40 treys while logging 1,200 fewer minutes than Vasquez. Vasquez’s 43 long-range hoops would rank him eighth on today’s New Orleans club, also behind Nicolo Melli (65) and E’Twaun Moore (60).