Undrafted rookie Jose Alvarado has been one of the most pleasant surprises this season for the New Orleans Pelicans.
I was happy when the Pels signed Alvarado to a two-way deal, as I thought his energy would help the team in practice and the offseason. I don’t think anyone envisioned him having a major role off the bench this season, but Alvarado just kept playing hard, eventually got his chance and has made the most of it.
His energy on the defensive end is a catalyst for the bench, and he has been embraced by his teammates as well as fans of the Pelicans.
All of this has made injured point guard Kira Lewis Jr. the forgotten man, as he’s been out since early December with an injury that ended his season.
His injury coupled with the play of Jose Alvarado have made his future with the Pelicans less clear.
New Orleans Pelicans: Jose Alvarado vs. Kira Lewis Jr.
Kira Lewis Jr. was playing better before an injury ended his season. He is still just 20-years-old, so has plenty of time fulfill his potential.
The problem is that the Pelicans already have two undersized guards in Devonte’ Graham and Jose Alvarado getting minutes off the bench, so it’s hard to say how Lewis Jr. fits in. The Pels already have trouble playing both Alvarado and Graham at times, so working Lewis Jr. into that rotation is not going to be easy.
Lewis Jr. is three years younger than Alvarado but there are similarities to their games. Both are quick, game-changing point guards who can get out in transition and set up teammates, though few players in the league can match Kira Lewis Jr.’s electric speed.
They have similar offensive numbers in similar minutes, though Alvarado has been a slightly better shooter from long range. Kira Lewis Jr. has a much-higher ceiling as a finisher and scorer but Alvarado is a better passer and more adept at running the offense.
Lewis Jr. is no slouch as an on-the-ball defender, but this is one area where Alvarado has a big advantage, as he is a ball hound who averages 1.2 steals per game in limited minutes. His defense can change the momentum of a game and has several times this season.
I’d also give Alvarado the advantage in intangibles, as he has leadership qualities as a point guard that Lewis Jr. does not have yet, which makes sense given their respective ages.
Is there room on the roster for both of them?
If not, it’s possible we’ll see Kira Lewis Jr. dealt in the offseason as part of a trade package, as I am not sure the Pelicans can afford to have three small guards on their team.