The New Orleans Pelicans had one of the best drafts in the NBA last season, grabbing three players who were playing impact minutes in the playoffs as rookies.
Herbert Jones made the All-Rookie team and has already established himself as one of the best wing defenders in the NBA. He was also better-than-advertised offensively and now looks like a guy who could make the All-Star and All-Defensive teams some day.
Jose Alvarado went un-drafted and worked his way from a two-way deal onto the full time roster, becoming a fan favorite on the way. He was the heart of the Pelicans’ bench this season, a smothering defender whose energy was infectious.
Trey Murphy III started slowly this season but really started to come on down the stretch when he was more committed on the defensive end. We know TMIII can shoot the 3-ball but he showed himself to also be a decent defender, rebounder and a guy who can hit a clutch shot.
Going into the offseason all three will be trying to add to their games and make leaps in their second seasons.
New Orleans Pelicans: What each rookie needs to improve
Trey Murphy III: On-ball defense
I thought Murphy III’s intensity and effectiveness on the defensive end really picked up late in the season, which is why we started seeing him get more minutes. Willie Green made it clear in training camp that playing with defensive intensity was one of his non-negotiable rules.
Murphy III has good length but gets caught flat-footed on defense at times and needs to work on his lateral quickness to stay in front of faster wings. He the tendency to reach instead of moving his feet, which is something he needs to improve.
I thought Murphy III had a good rookie season overall, and I love that he was able to work his way into the rotation through defensive effort, but he has to continue to progress in that area.