3 players the Pelicans must develop (and 1 they should give up on)

Herbert Jones & Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Herbert Jones & Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Herb Jones, New Orleans Pelicans
Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans. Rudy Gobert & Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. /

Herbert Jones

The Pelicans clearly value Herbert Jones’ development: they just gave the soon-to-be third-year player a hefty raise in the form of a 4-year, $54 million contract that could become one of the best values in the league.

To live up to that, though, Jones will have to play more like he did in the second part of last season. Jones’ splits are startling. Pre-All-Star break, Jones shot 44% from the field and 28% from three. In 23 games after the All-Star break, however, Herb bolstered those numbers to 52% and 44%, respectively. That’s a massive increase. While he isn’t likely to be a 44% shooter from deep in the long run, his strong free-throw numbers (80% for his career) support the idea that Jones is a capable floor-spacer.

Jones was one of the best defenders in the league from the get-go, but like Daniels, his shooting volume is a wart that needs serious medical attention. Jones is a good cutter who can struggle at the rim, but that’s something that players tend to improve with age and strength, and he at least is willing to take tough layups. However, he attempted just 2.5 threes in nearly 30 minutes per game. That number needs to be approaching four (or more) for defenses to respect him.

Jones is too senior for Summer League, so we’ll have to wait for the season to see if he becomes more willing to take jumpers.

From the Pelicans’ perspective, I’d love to see Jones get more reps as a secondary playmaker. He averaged 2.5 assists per game last season despite rarely touching the ball. His ballhandling needs improvement, but his vision is underrated. By the end of last season, he was slinging one-handed skip passes off the bounce and diming up cutters.

You can never have too much passing on a team. The Pelicans have many above-average positional passers but few great ones, and their ball movement is an ensemble approach. I want to see Jones given more runway to play with the ball in his hands. Given Williamson and Ingram’s historical injury troubles, Jones may need to shoulder a heavier load sooner than later.