Eight New Orleans Pelicans were out for the final game of summer league against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Pels won going away anyways, posting a 107-71 victory.
Despite no Jose Alvarado, Trey Murphy III, Naji Marshall, Dyson Daniels, E.J. Liddell, Daeqwon Plowden, Jared Harper and Karlo Matkovic, the Pelicans still had plenty of firepower to hit triple digits in the scoring column for a third time in the past week.
Easily the most impressive individual display on the evening, John Butler Jr. didn’t miss a field goal attempt. In scoring a team-high 25 points, he shot 9 for 9 from the field and 6 for 6 from 3-point range. His first bucket was probably the prettiest.
John Butler Jr. with the two-dribble pull up — New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) July 17, 2022
That’s a 7-footer hitting one of the more difficult shots in the game, a pull-up jumper over an opponent, folks.
“JB did what he does in terms of just providing that floor-spacing ability in someone that is 7’1,” Jarron Collins said in postgame. “He was pretty active on defense, but again just catch-and-shoot opportunities. Just put the ball in the basket. He even hit the 1-dribble pull-up. So he showed his game, his versatility in terms of being a rim protector but also being someone who can space the floor.”
The Pelicans ran out an 18-9 lead and a big reason for that was Dereon Seabron, who consistently looked to attack off the dribble. The point guard finished with a fine line of 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists, but it was a couple of 3-balls in the first quarter that piqued my curiosity.
While he didn’t show to be a very proficient finisher at the rim in these five games, one can see why the Pelicans have already handed Seabron a two-way contract. If he ever develops a consistent 3-point shot and ingrains defensive fundamentals, look out because he possesses an incredibly valuable skill of breaking down opposing defenses with ease.
Elijah Stewart, who hasn’t been talked about enough, deserves accolade for his approach. He’s just a solid basketball player who gives great effort. Tonight, his passing really shined in posting a line of 20 points, four rebounds, nine assists and four 3s.
Rounding out the rest of the notables, Deividas Sirvydis scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds off the bench, Amadou Sow had 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks, and Tyrique Jones emulated Draymond Green somewhat in the box score with six points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
The Thunder were led by Gabe Brown’s 23 points, with Jaden Shackelford adding 15.
The Pelicans are leaving Las Vegas with a 3-2 record, but put aside the results for a minute. We witnessed a group of players from various backgrounds come together, improve as they went along, and wound up leaving a number of positive impressions on fans.
I’m in full agreement with Coach Collins. To be honest, I hope to see a number of these players who are not on full NBA or two-way contracts in training camp come September. Then perhaps with the Birmingham Squadron down the road.
The Pelicans organization appears to really be building something quite enviable from top to bottom across the league. The 2022 Summer Pels arrived in Las Vegas and proved that true quickly and consistently.