7. Herbert Jones – All-Defensive Team
Ever since he earned himself the moniker ‘Not on Herb’ back in 2021-22, Herbert Jones has been one of the best perimeter defenders in the league.
Remember how, in the beginning, we said that part of the reason no Pelicans won any major awards last year is because the majority of voters weren’t paying them much attention down the stretch? Well, that was specifically the case for Jones.
When it happened, we posted a detailed argument for why it was wrong that Jones not only didn’t make an All-Defensive Team but also didn’t receive a single vote.
As has been the common theme with this entire post (and the offseason as a whole), the hope is that the Pelicans will be better this year and that their players/coaches will get more individual recognition as a result. This is especially true for Jones. Hell, even if he doesn’t improve at all as a defender from last year, he should still be in the mix for a spot.
Another thing that could work in his favor (if it goes well for the team) is the fact that he’ll have a larger load to carry on defense this season. When Williamson went down last year, it led to a lot of bad things for the team. But one of the positives was that it allowed them to put more defensively-slanted players on the floor (guys like Jason Richardson and Naji Marshall).
Having more defensive players on the floor decreased the strain that was placed on Jones. This year, the idea is that Williamson will be playing more minutes, which means fewer minutes go to those defensively-slanted players. That means that it will be up to Jones to do even more for the team on that end.
If he’s up to the challenge, he could be up for a major award.