2018-2019 Off the Glass Breakout Players Series: E’Twaun Moore
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
With the 2018-2019 NBA season upon us, Off the Glass is making predictions on who the breakout players from each team will be. Today we look at E’Twaun Moore of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Ever since I came up with a nickname for E’Twaun Moore, I have tried to get it to catch on, but nobody seems to understand or be interested: “The Forgotten Man.”
It amazes me how often Moore, one of the best catch-and-shoot long-range snipers in the league, gets left absolutely wide open for threes given how lethal he is. But then again, it is not that surprising when you take a look at all the great teammates he has played with in New Orleans. And in case you were wondering, my previous statement is no flattery: Moore shot 42.5 percent overall from deep last year and 46.7 percent when he was left wide open.
The Forgotten Man averaged 12.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and a steal per game on 50.8/42.5/70.6 shooting splits while playing 31.5 minutes per game in 2017-18.
A big part of Moore’s success last year was Rajon Rondo’s playmaking and the attention that both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins commanded inside the arc. With Cousins gone this year and replaced by a lower usage player in Julius Randle, Moore should get a chance to take more shots than he did last season. After four games this season, he is averaging 1.4 more shots than he did last year and on less playing time.
Moore has never been complacent with his game and has talked about ways he can take his game to the next level. His summer workouts were focused on playmaking and shot-creating. “Just different ways of creating shots, creating threes,” Moore told Alex Kennedy in an offseason podcast interview. “Last year, we had Rajon Rondo on our team and he did a lot of creating for us. He’s not there this year. I can be another guy that can help create shots and help create my own shots — shoot more threes maybe off the bounce and create in different ways to get threes.”
He is no stranger to shooting off the dribble. In fact, Moore shot 50.1 percent on pull-up jumpshots last season — as for pull-up threes, he made five out of the eight he attempted. This is a good sign in relation to Moore’s willingness to create more for himself and his teammates this year and his commitment with having a positive impact while he is on the court.
All in all, Moore was pretty efficient last season posting an effective field goal percentage of 58.8 (93rd percentile among wings) and scoring 119.4 points per 100 shot attempts, (87th percentile).
If you want to see the forgotten man in action, take a look at how his defender helps on the drive and Moore has a wide open three:
The defense clearly did not read the scouting report, as Moore punished him in the exact same way just a couple of minutes later:
And if that had not been enough, Moore nailed another three from the exact same corner almost immediately:
By the time the game was done, the Grizzlies gave up two other plays like these. Unsurprisingly, Moore finished with 30 points and he can do just that every night if defenses do not show him respect.
One of Moore’s biggest weaknesses is his height. Standing at just 6’4”, he lacks length even for the modern shooting guard spot. Still, his lack of size has not been an impediment for him to be aggressive on both ends.
“One of the things that makes me valuable is that I’m able to play multiple positions — if it’s guarding bigger guys sometimes or playing the point if they need me to or playing on the wings.” Moore knows he can play one through three but clearly prefers playing the two.
“If it was up to me — it doesn’t really matter as long as I stay on the floor and help my team win — but I would like to say that maybe I hopefully could be playing a little bit more guard. Last year, I was more of a wing, but it worked out well for the team because we played so fast. But it would be kind of cool to going back to being a guard again.”
Moore is active on defense; he has good hands and often communicates with his teammates on switches and movements. His height has not been an evident disadvantage, but just think how good of a two-way player Moore could have become if he were two or three inches taller.
He could also use improvement in his free throw shooting. For a wing, Moore was quite poor on that aspect ranking at the 21st percentile. He barely ever got to the line, but getting an extra point or two each game from easy foul shots is key to his improvement.
Also, he is a borderline good – not great – interior scorer. He shot 65% at the rim last year on about 2.5 attempts per game, which could be a little bit better if he wants to attract more attention and get to the foul line consistently.
Maybe everything I am saying is too unrealistic for a role player, but this is no ordinary role player. This is a role player in a privileged situation: playing on a team that seeks to get the best out of him; plus he shares the floor with the best big man in the league in Davis.
"[Moore is] very much like a utility infielder," Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said early last season. "He's a guy that can handle the ball some for us, he can play off the ball, play small forward some. I thought last year he was one of the most consistent players we had." Ever since Gentry uttered these words, Moore has not relinquished his starting small forward spot.
Trust is an essential part of a player-coach relationship, and Moore has felt wanted ever since he first arrived to New Orleans. "Coach definitely had a lot of faith in me, and it's definitely been a great situation to come into: a young team." This young team has evolved into a potential monster team. And if Moore capitalizes on his enviable position, he will have a breakout year.
Data and statistics obtained from Cleaning the Glass, NBA Stats and Basketball Reference.
You can follow Jorge on Twitter @CantuNBA.