Following the conclusion of the 2017 NBA Draft, Dell Demps apologized to the media for his tardiness to begin the night’s conference. The front office had been busy trying to add several undrafted free agents to next month's summer league team after making a lone selection in Frank Jackson.
Well, we’re aware of the Pelicans securing one such UDFA and he may wind up being worth everyone’s wait: Peter Jok, a 4-year guard out of the University of Iowa. Incidentally, New Orleans has had him on their radar for some time; the Pelicans were the only team in the league to work him out one year ago.
If the Pelicans and Jok combination sounds familiar, it should. That was the one team he worked out for last year, when he was testing the NBA waters, before injuring his wrist and returning to the Hawkeyes for his senior season.
During his senior season, Jok averaged 19.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.6 three-pointers. In glancing through his statistics on Sports Reference, it quickly becomes apparent he has a preference to launch from distance, as 48.0% of all of his attempts came from behind the arc.
Jok finished his collegiate career with a 37.8 3FG% — that’s quite good considering he shot under 35% his first two years. However, the problem is it appears he has issues with converting inside the arc. According to our friends at BT Powerhouse, Jok has a history of struggling in the painted area, among other things.
Jok really struggles to finish at the rim. He shot just 46.7% on two point field goals this season and it wont get any easier at the NBA level. Jok also struggles to create in one-on-one situations. His go-to move off the dribble is a simple pull up jumper. He’ll need to add more moves to his offensive game if he wants to fit in at the next level.
To be fair, what did you expect? 60 names were called Thursday night and a Peter Jok was not one of them — of course he’s going to be burdened somewhat by a list of negatives. Oh, you can be sure he did enough to impress at least some within the Pelicans organization in workouts, games, etc., to justify a more thorough look in Las Vegas, but I have to believe his personal story counted for extra credit, too.
Jok’s father, a captain in the Liberation army, was murdered when he was four years old in Sudan, and the remaining family members were later forced to escape the violence to Uganda as refugees. A sponsorship at the age of nine brought he and his brothers to the United States, but it took a trip to McDonald’s to make him a basketball fan.
You see, he hated the game when he first started playing because he wasn’t very good. However, as he notes in the video above, he fell in love with the food at McDonald’s immediately upon his very first visit following a practice; consequently in order to ensure further trips to his favorite fast-food restaurant, he decided it best to stay on the hardwood floor. Thank goodness for not only quick improvement but Big Macs too!
Sadly, the smooth sailing didn’t last for very long. While in ninth grade, he tore his patella tendon in a special Nike scrimmage that consisted of the 30 best players in the country his age. He basically lost two years of development, his choice of college scholarships, so how could one fault him for thinking his dream was over. Yet his brother, Dau, and Mike Nixon, the Jok Family Guardian, refused to let their adopted son give up, telling Peter... it’s a process.
Yep, every local fans favorite phrase helped him get to this stage of his life.
“My main goal right now is to get drafted,” Jok said. “I’ve been attacking every workout like it’s my last. It only takes one team to fall in love with you. I’ve got one thing every team needs in the NBA, which is shooting.”
He’s not lying, and you know what, he’s got mad skills in that department.
Seriously, a comparison to an elite catch-and-shoot player like Klay Thompson because of how he uses off-the-ball screens? Reminds people of Bradley Beal because of his pull-up shooting ability? And the fact he can create his own shot like Isaiah Thomas lends to possible star potential?
Where do we all sign?!?
The Pelicans need shooters — that’s been the motto since the end of the previous regular season. According to ShotMechanics, Peter Jok may be the best underrated shooter in the country. Plus, his story is just ridiculously inspirational. A young man who has endured, who is desperate to help those living in his homeland at every turn. One gets the sense he’ll remain genuinely grateful for everything that follows regardless of any ensuing success.
Thank you to @PelicansNBA for giving me a chance at the summer league. You won't regret it!— Peter Jok (@Jok_City14) June 23, 2017
Man, let's hope this 23-year-old can earn himself some guaranteed money with the New Orleans Pelicans, be it through a regular NBA deal or a new two-way contract. It would make a ton of hearts leap, including my own.