Herb Jones Became a Starter on Pelicans After Just a Few Summer League Practices
New Orleans Pelicans star Herbert Jones had an impressive rookie season last year that left many questioning how he fell to the second round of the NBA draft.
Apart from sure-fire lottery picks, earning playing time as a rookie isn’t an easy task for a player drafted so late. But for Jones, he had his spot on the starting roster all but guaranteed after just a few summer league practices.
Pelicans VP of Basketball Operations David Griffin shared a story about Jones and head coach Willie Green on the Basketball Illuminati show that tells just how much Jones was impressing his first-year head coach.
Griffin explains that Jones was going to spend some time with the Pelicans’ G League affiliate team, the Birmingham Squadron. Green, however, had other plans for the rookie after just one practice.
“Griff, I don’t think he’s ever gonna go to Birmingham,” Green told both Griffin and Pelicans General Manager Trajan Langdon. “I mean, he does things you can’t teach.”
Griffin continues about how Green shared his plans to start Jones after the team’s third summer league practice. The two agreed, thinking Green was talking about starting Jones in the summer league, not knowing he was talking about the Pelicans' NBA roster.
Jones went on to start 69 of the 78 games he played in his rookie season, earning accolades such as a spot on the NBA All-Rookie second team, and having the third-most steals in the league with 130.
Green saw the impact Jones would have on the team, and the Pelicans were rewarded with their first playoff berth since the 2017-18 season. Jones will be a big contributor to the Pelicans this year, and looks as though he has the full support from both the coaching staff and front office.