SLAM x Panini Rookie Spotlight: Pelicans Forward Herbert Jones

When they call him “Straitjacket”, here’s why:

And here’s why:

And here’s why:

And here’s why:

There’s much more, too. More. The Pelicans have a saying to explain the clips that goes like this: “Not on Herb.” As in, “You can try that, [insert name of elite offensive player here], but it won’t work. Not on Herb. ”

You may have seen it as a hashtag (#NotOnHerb) on Twitter recently. Rumors have finally begun to circulate about what the 23-year-old rookie has accomplished in New Orleans. First, a little background: Jones, a six to eight-point forward from Alabama, 35 years old.NS pick overall in the 2021 Draft. He’s had an explosive year as the Crimson Tide senior, averaging 11.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1, 7 steals and 1.1 saves, and also won the SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards. His size, length and agility allow him to guard every position on the floor; and under head coach Nate Oats, he often controlled Alabama’s attacks, pushed the ball in transitions, made unselfish plays for others and improved dramatically as a player. shooting athlete. With his flexibility, Jones is expected to be someone who can join and potentially contribute immediately. But very few people envisioned him having this kind of impact — the kind that #NotOnHerb became a thing — this early.

Jones scored 26.2 minutes per game and earned a spot in the Pelicans’ starting lineup, largely due to his defensive prowess. He values ​​his role as the “Straitjacket” and takes the opportunity to protect the opposing team’s best player.

Jones tell Will Guillory about The Athletic. “You have to play with a different kind of aggression, a different kind of desire. I am proud to always be someone who is willing to give everything for my teammates. That’s what interests me the most.” Didn’t score (he only averaged 5.7 shots per game). Not the highlight. Did not receive his. Just put it all there for his teammates, especially in defence. That’s what Herb cares about. That was his thinking.

“He’s been my favorite player on the team by far,” Devonte’ Graham said about Jones last week. “He was one of those guys who always did everything he asked. He didn’t complain. If he [not] Shoot the ball, he doesn’t care. He only creates winning plays. Best protection [opponent] Every night. ”

Of course, it’s not easy to take on that responsibility every night, and Jones has struggled at times (Luka Doncic dominated their head-to-head game on Wednesday). But he took up the challenge and approached it without fear or hesitation. He has kept former No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards with 14.3 percent of shots from the field (2/14) in three games against Minnesota, and All-Star Donovan Mitchell to 21 percent (3/14) in two games. their meeting with Utah, according to data from NBA. He spent considerable time protecting both bodyguards (62% of the time, each, which includes matches against Trae Young, Zach LaVine, Ja Morant and Bradley Beal) and adults (38%). His perceptions and instincts — partly influenced by his experiences as a free safety in childhood, as Guillory notes in his work—Leaded to numerous thefts (14 of his last five outings). While on the floor, Jones just interrupts the other team’s attack flow. It’s that simple.

The numbers clearly prove it. The opponent has scored estimate was 118.8 points per 100 possessions with Herb on the bench, but that dropped to 108.8 with him on the field. He has the best minus of anyone in the New Orleans regular rotation and leads all rookies in steals per game (1.5) and deflects per game (3.0) . A lot of what he does — delivers non-stop energy, picks up the ball 90 feet from the basket, knows when and where to need help, takes on those tough defensive tasks so the likes of Brandon Ingram can practice. focus on attack — does not appear in stats page, nor. That, along with the Pelicans’ struggles in general, sent Jones flying a bit in the crosshairs throughout the first quarter of the season.

But the hype is building. From there it spread. #NotOnHerb is getting attention. People are learning about the rookie in NOLA and why they call him “Straitjacket”. SLAM x Panini Rookie Spotlight: Pelicans Forward Herbert Jones

Curtis Crabtree

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