Young budding star José Alvarado has stepped his game up onto another level, as he continuously impresses the NBA crowd with his impressive play in his second year.Alvarado made headlines in his rookie season mainly for his unique ball-stealing tactics, in which he would “hide” from his opponents in the corner of the court before sneaking up behind them to snatch the ball and take it for a layup. But Alvarado’s game in the 2021-22 campaign extended beyond that. In 54 games, he averaged 6.1 points, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.9 rebounds on nearly 45% shooting. Despite being a two-way player and only starting to get serious minutes on the New Orleans Pelicans roster beginning in January of 2022, Alvarado quickly pushed his way onto the scene and became an integral part of the Pels bench help, providing a defensive spark off the bench whenever it was needed.
And after an impressive first year, the 24-year-old guard was finally rewarded. In March 2022, Alvarado was given his chance by the Pelicans, signing four-year contract worth $6.5 million, putting him solidly on the roster and keeping him in the NBA for the foreseeable future. Alvarado was extremely grateful for the opportunity, stating in an interview with USA Today, “It is just another dream come true. It was a shock… You can’t really put into words how bad I dreamed about this and to be finally doing it, it is amazing.”
Following a surprisingly impressive first year, Alvarado did anything but slow up in his second season. Currently 27 games into the season, Alvarado has improved on his stats from last year in nearly every major category, now averaging 9.5 points, 3.2 assists, and 2.2 rebounds, with similarly improved shooting numbers, including a 9% jump (29.1% to 38.0%) in 3-point percentage from last season to this one. Alvarado’s solid play has translated into success for the Pelicans as well, pushing them atop the Western Conference (and third in the entire NBA) with an 18-9 record nearly a third of the way into the 2022-23 season.
Despite still being very dependable on the defensive side, Alvarado has also begun to make a serious impact offensively, showing his scoring potential multiple times this year already in scoring downpours. Most notable was his record-breaking game on December 4, 2022 versus the Denver Nuggets, where in a 121-106 win, Alvarado had 38 points on insanely efficient shooting (63.2 / 72.7 / 85.7 splits), and added three rebounds and two assists in the process. His 38 points is his current career-high, as well as a new high in points coming off of the bench in a single game in the Pelicans’ organizational history.
The Puerto Rican sensation was even impressed by his own playing that night, surprised he had scored that many, considering he couldn’t even remember the last time he had scored 38 points in a game in his entire basketball career. “This [game] is the one I’m gonna remember,” he jokingly said in his postgame interview. He further added how truly appreciative he was to be on this level and succeeding, and to be given the chance by the Pelicans organization to show his worth.”Everything just fell in place,” he said. “Just seeing everything I’m achieving is amazing.”
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