The New Orleans Pelicans got out to a lackluster start against the Denver Nuggets last night. They looked discombobulated and out of sync, getting down by 14 in the first quarter. Then Jose Alvarado came into the game.
As he has so many times this season, Alvarado injected instant life into the Pelicans’ veins, started flying around the floor on both ends, and made a quick 3-point shot as the shot-clock wound down, which was just a preview of his night.
Alvarado rattled off eight quick points as soon as he entered the game, and the New Orleans Pelicans were suddenly back in it, cutting the deficit to four before the 1st quarter was over. By the end of the half, Alvarado led the Pels with 19 points, with the entire team getting a boost from his energy.
Jose just kept going, notching 19 more in the second half to finish with 38 points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal, but most importantly, he carried the Pelicans through a rough stretch, got everyone else going and helped them get a win against the team closest to them in the standings.
It was the highest scoring game for any bench player in the NBA this season, which is not something you would have expected from a guy who never even scored 30 points in a game in college.
New Orleans Pelicans: Jose Alvarado is more than just stats
Jose Alvarado already had a reputation around the league as a defensive pest and a guy who could disrupt a game with his on the ball defense and energy.
But he is proving himself to be much more, as he is has improved tremendously on offense this season, raising his scoring average to 10 a game while adding 3.3 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals.
Alvarado was already a very good defender and play maker, but this season he is shooting 40 percent from 3-point range on 4.1 attempts per game, more than double the attempts he had last season when he shot just 29 percent from long range.
Alvarado’s improvement from the 3-point line has made him a threat off the ball, which is important when the Pelicans are running their offense through Zion Williamson, as they often did last night.
Zion’s gravity often gets Jose open shots or open lanes to the rim, and Alvarado has been much more aggressive looking for his own offense this season, which has paid dividends for the Pelicans.
But it’s hard to measure what Jose really brings to the table in numbers, as we saw last night. He was like a wake up call to his teammates, who were not giving much effort early in the game, but came alive as soon as Jose came onto the floor.
His energy is contagious to both his teammates and the crowd, which also came alive as soon as he came into the game and started flying around. He immediately starts picking up the other guards full court, increases the pace of the game and makes the other team work for everything they get.
Alvarado is putting up great numbers, but he is so much more than just that, and right now he deserves to be in the running for 6th Man of the Year for the tangible and intangible things he brings to one of the hottest teams in the NBA.