The collective chip on the shoulders of the New Orleans Pelicans

Brandon Ingram #14 and Herbert Jones #5 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
Brandon Ingram #14 and Herbert Jones #5 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans have built a culture of fight and grit. They have few established players, but many who have the most to prove in this league. If you look across this roster, many of these guys have been counted out. Yet, they are proving that they belong.

New Orleans Pelicans with big chips on their shoulders

Brandon Ingram

Brandon Ingram was drafted #2 in the 2016 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. The discovery of the blood clot in Brandon Ingram’s right shoulder while he was a Laker was a blessing because doctors discovered it, and were able to clear the blockage and prevent it from becoming a more serious issue.

The Lakers, however, gave up on the Brandon Ingram experiment. He was traded that same year for Anthony Davis, but Ingram credited the focus he gained after making a full recovery for helping him to develop into an All-Star in his fourth season. “Me being injured this summer, I think that helped me just lock in and take advantage of every piece in time that I’m having on the basketball floor. I’m just enjoying every time that I go out there,” Ingram said while stopping by the Greater Chicago Food Depository for an NBA Cares event.

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Ingram has been counted out, overlooked as an All-Star and is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. 

CJ McCollum

McCollum was traded away from the Trail Blazers after All-Star break, landing him with the New Orleans Pelicans. After being in Damian Lillard’s shadow, CJ came to New Orleans with a point to prove. McCollum has a different role with the Pelicans versus the one he played the first nine seasons of his career with the Blazers. With New Orleans, McCollum has been the primary ballhandler for the Pelicans on offense. Playing point guard, distributing, moving around off-ball. In Portland, McCollum served in that role at times, but it was pretty sparingly because he was playing second-fiddle to Lillard as a creator. Now, CJ can truly show that he’s much more than a scorer.

Jose Alvarado

A four-year player at Georgia Tech, the New York native was undrafted and toiled with the G- League’s Birmingham Squadron for several months after. Through November and December, he had seen little action. Alvarado just saw the floor for spotty filler time. It wasn’t until he came up for good and made true waves in his hometown at Madison Square Garden that people really started to notice him. 2021’s ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Alvarado played his most minutes yet in the road victory against the New York Knicks, gathering four steals as the Pelicans began to turn the tide on their terrible start to the season. He went from a player on a two-way deal to a $6.4 million man.

He plays with the intensity of a guy who has always been told he’s too small, or can’t shoot enough and would never make it and that energy has been contagious.

Herb Jones

Herb Jones, who was the 35th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, reportedly signed a three-year contract with the final season as a team option, according to Will Guillory of The Athletic. It was later reported by Andrew Lopez of ESPN that the contract will be worth roughly $5.4 million. The contract is the second-largest ever signed by a second-round pick. He’s of the mold of other second round underdogs—Draymond Green, Dennis Rodman, Paul Millsap. It’s not a comparison of their all time status, but it shows what being a workhorse get you in the NBA. No one expected Herb Jones to instantly become an impact player for the Pelicans so soon, but here we are.

The New Orleans Pelicans have established a culture of hard work and resilience. Willie Green’s speech during the second half of the Clippers encompasses everything this team stands for and embodies the “Won’t Bow Down” mantra that David Griffin was trying to establish.

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