Jose Alvarado has had an eventful rookie season for the Pelicans. He started his NBA career undrafted after four seasons at Georgia Tech, then signed a two-way deal with New Orleans.
The 23-year-old rarely played in the first few months of the season, but made a significant impact when he did, so coach Willie Green started playing him more and the front office took notice — Alvarado was promoted to a four-year, $6.5MM contract last week, with the final two seasons being non-guaranteed.
Alvarado recently spoke to William Guillory of The Athletic about a number of topics. Here are a couple highlights from the interview.
On his new contract:
“It’s amazing. When I found out the deal was happening and I’m officially signing, it was like another dream come true. It was another step for me as I’m continuing to go after my dreams. It was something you can’t really picture or put words to because it’s all you’ve ever dreamed of doing your whole life. When it did happen, all I could do was sit back and thank God. It just felt like something out of a movie.”
On his incredible steals numbers (if he qualified, he’d lead the league in steal percentage and steals per 36 minutes):
“I’ve always felt like defense is 90 percent heart. The other 10 percent you get from developing skill, having length, all that other stuff. With me, I just take every possession personal. I’m not the guy they bring up when they talk about great defensive players, but I’m gonna make sure I am soon enough. It’s more about the mindset.
“I’m not sure I’m eligible for NBA All-Defense or anything like that, but I want to be in that category. I feel like I’m in that category as one of those best defenders, even though I’m a rookie.”
It’s an interesting read and worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber.
Here’s more from the Southwest:
- The Pelicans guaranteed themselves a spot in the play-in tournament by beating the Kings on Tuesday night, Guillory writes in a separate article. Brandon Ingram is excited for what the team can show once they get Zion Williamson back in action. “When you look at it on paper, it’s exciting. It’s like, ‘OK, we added CJ (McCollum). If you throw the big fella in there, it’s going to be serious,'” Ingram told The Athletic. “We’re just monitoring him as he continues to go through his rehab and do more work. It’s good to have him back. It looks like he’s having fun around the guys. It’s good to have him around.”
- After defeating the Nuggets on Tuesday, the Spurs are also guaranteed a spot in the play-in, and Keita Bates-Diop‘s versatility has proven to be valuable, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “I am big and long enough to play most positions and I know how to play,” Bates-Diop said. “It’s not just the size. It’s knowing the coverages, knowing one through five. I am knowledgeable about a bunch of different things, so they trust me out there at the five.”
- The Raptors have earned a playoff berth, which means the Spurs now hold three first-round picks in the 2022 draft, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). The Spurs acquired the lottery-protected pick in the deal that sent Thaddeus Young to the Raptors. The Spurs own Toronto’s pick, Boston’s pick (via the Derrick White trade), and their own.