Jose Alvarado topped 20 points just once in 54 games during his NBA rookie season, dropping a career-high 23 against the San Antonio Spurs last March.
In his four years at Georgia Tech, Alvarado amassed 29 points on three separate occasions, once as a sophomore and twice as a senior.
Last night inside the Smoothie King Center, Alvarado came within a bucket of breaking into the 30-point plateau, finishing with 28 points on a stellar 12 for 18 shooting performance from the field.
The New Orleans Pelicans hung on to beat a Detroit Pistons team determined to eke out a victory by a final score of 107-101, but it was Alvarado’s play that had his coaches and teammates buzzing in postgame.
“Jose is hard to describe, but you just know he’s going to bring that passion and energy to the game that you would want to see from anybody,” Zion Williamson said. “He knows how to make himself a threat. Don’t let him fool y’all, he just had 28 (points) and how many rebounds? Five? He’s doing this off the bench. We have a special group.”
Alvarado’s incredible shotmaking from among the trees clearly stood out in New Orleans second preseason win. The 6’0 point guard connected on nine of 12 shots inside the lane, beating Piston defenders with a dizzying array of spins, floaters and just some good old-school savviness.
Knowledgable fans might say that this type of display is reminiscent of Tony Parker. Well, that’s precisely who played at least some part in making Friday night a reality.
Alvarado told media afterwards that he tracked down the Spurs legend over the summer and met with him in San Antonio.
Jose said he DM'd @TonyParker during the summer to ask about working out with him. Parker responded right away, and they met up in San Antonio.— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) October 8, 2022
"If the year keeps going like this, I will definitely be hitting his phone next year." pic.twitter.com/GvoykxESTf
Jose is so much more than Grand Theft Alvarado. He truly wants to be the best version of himself on the basketball court and he’s proven he’ll go to great lengths to achieve it.
Not only does he play the game with amazing zeal and an unrelenting motor, Alvarado shows a deep understanding of how to get better. He is cognizant of the fact that his potential for improvement must come in areas outside of athleticism and size.
There’s few that have done it better below the rim than Parker and now the four-time NBA champion probably sits on Jose’s speed dial.
Some may argue this performance occurred in a meaningless preseason game, but realize the Pistons were trying to win. While Willie Green closed the game out with the end of his bench, Dwane Casey had all of his starters in for much of the fourth quarter, minus Marvin Bagley who had fouled out earlier.
Don’t also overlook that Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes towered over Alvarado’s short stature, or that Jaden Ivey is blessed with significantly greater God-given talents. But Alvarado is far from being disadvantaged. He possesses incredible heart, and as we continue to learn, the intelligence to utilize every resource at his disposal.
Speaking of learning, Dyson Daniels continues to show just how far he’s come since his predraft workout with the Pelicans. While he struggled to put the ball through the hoop, the rookie filled up the box score, finishing with six points, seven rebounds, five assists and five steals.
“Fearless, defensively he doesn’t get rattled by not being able to score the ball at times,” Green said. “He’s 19 and to have that level of maturity is pretty spectacular to see. Big play down the stretch where he got the steal and things like that. He just keeps playing.”
Williamson scored 13 points in 20 minutes but struggled immensely from the free throw line (3-12). Naji Marshall poured in 14 points, four rebounds and two 3s and Trey Murphy, who made his season debut, had eight points and three assists.
With Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum sitting this contest out with minor injuries, we may have learned this Friday evening that the Pelicans have the best backup point guard in the league. Who says the preseason doesn’t count for something?