New Orleans Pelicans: Where the Pels youngsters stand into the all-star break

(Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports)
(Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports) /
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New Orleans Pelicans, Kira Lewis Jr.
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

New Orleans Pelicans: Kira Lewis Jr. is the future

Kira Lewis Jr. has played the least minutes out of the Pelicans’ youngsters. Still, he has played in 21 games and has gotten some run as a rookie, which isn’t particularly easy in a team coached by Stan Van Gundy.

The Pelicans likely think a lot of Lewis and, from what he’s shown this season, they are right to believe in him.

New Orleans selected Lewis in last year’s draft with the 13th overall pick out of Alabama. Lewis was only 17-years-old in his freshman season with the Crimson Tide and was actually the second youngest player in Division I basketball at one point. That means that he was essentially a college freshman when the Pels drafted him.

Lewis has had a tough rookie year solely because of circumstances outside of his control. He was drafted in November and the NBA season started about a month later. Lewis also didn’t have the benefit of playing Summer League basketball, for instance, nor a prolonged training camp. He was thrust into the league without an adjustment period, and he will only get that once this NBA season ends.

It has been a hectic start for Lewis, but he has done well in spite of it. In February, he played in most of the Pelicans’ games and was given some real run. It’s important to not expect too much from Lewis right now, though. The flashes are more important than the substance right now.

When Lewis gets on the floor, he instantly speeds the game up for New Orleans. This is a good thing in a team that often has a slow, methodical offense. Lewis will eventually be considered one of the fastest players in the league. He is a blur with the ball, always looking to push the tempo and put pressure on the opposing team’s rim. Lewis has a unique ability to speed up the game without looking rushed himself, as seen above.

He had a very solid game against the Miami Heat prior to the all-star break, scoring 11 points and being a +7 during his 17 minutes. Four of Lewis’ five made field goals came right at the basket, but he also made a pull-up three and made a couple of defensive plays.

It seems like Lewis already has Van Gundy’s trust and I only expect him to get better going forward, even though there’ll be some bumps along the way.