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2021 NBA Draft: New Orleans Pelicans select Herbert Jones with 35th pick

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A future defensive stopper?

Syndication: Tuscaloosa News Gary Cosby Jr. via Imagn Content Services, LLC

With the 35th pick of the 2021 NBA Draft, David Griffin and the New Orleans Pelicans selected Herbert Jones, a 6’7 wing from the University of Alabama.

Jones and Kira Lewis Jr. were teammates for two seasons at Alabama, with Lewis leaving college early for the 2020 NBA Draft. On the other hand, Jones spent an additional year, totaling four seasons in all at Alabama, growing into an elite defender who was highly regarded for putting the team ahead of individual accomplishment.

In his senior season, Jones averaged 11.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks. He’s considered a poor shooter but did show significant improvement in his final year, hitting 35.1% of his 3-point attempts. In his previous three seasons, he never topped 28.6% from long range.

Without a doubt, the amount of improvement that Jones can make with his jumper will determine his playing time in upcoming seasons, as well as the length of his professional career; however, let’s not forget the Pelicans boast one of the best shooting coaches in the league in Fred Vinson.

The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie sounded hopeful in his Top 100 NBA Draft prospects breakdown guide when talking about Jones’ ceiling.

I’m going to be a bit higher on Jones than consensus, because it’s a very easy to project him into a high-leverage role scalable to playing a winning role on good teams if the jump shot comes together. He’s a genuine plus defender, a high-level passer, and he’s smart in the way he thinks about the game.

Jones’ defense is considered to be close to NBA-ready because of his athleticism, IQ and versatility. I’m sure a lot of local fans remember the unfortunate ending to the 2021 SEC championship game in which Alabama narrowly edged out LSU due to Jones coming up with a crunch-time block against Trendon Watford.

Little surprise, Jones was awarded the 2021 SEC Defensive Player, but he walked away with the 2021 SEC Player of the Year Award, too.

Stay tuned, we’ll have more analysis of Jones in coming days.

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The Pelicans did not utilize their remaining second-round picks, trading No. 43 to the Trail Blazers for a 2026 second-round pick and cash, trading No. 51 to the Clippers for a future second-round pick and cash, and selling No. 53 outright to the 76ers.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.