CBS Sports recently unveiled their Top 100 players heading into the 2022-2023 NBA season. The New Orleans Pelicans had four players appear on the list. It was nice to see second-year player Herb Jones get some recognition from the outside media. Local fans and reporters know how valuable Herb is to this team, and now national pundits also realize this about the Pelicans’ budding star.
Here’s the rationale behind listing Jones at number 88 on the list.
As a rookie, Jones took on the most challenging defensive assignments on the planet, and he did it in the playoffs. According to BBall Index, Jones’ Matchup difficulty ranked as the toughest among all Rookies and fourth-toughest league-wide. And he more than held his own. Metrics that consider those assignments suggest that Jones is already one of the best defenders in the league.
Per BBall Index, Jones saved more points defensively than any Rookie wing since 2009. He was also No. 1 in points saved among all defensive wings and No. 7 in the league.
Herb Jones will be an All-NBA level defender for years to come, but his development on the Offensive end makes him super intriguing. He can play with the ball in his hands, and his shooting curve is sharply upward. After shooting just 50 percent from the free-throw line his first two years in college, Jones hit 84 percent of his freebies as a rookie. Who knows if Jones will ever be a weaponized pull-up guy who can assume more creative responsibility, but you should consider it.
Of course, the usual Suspects from this team you expect to see on this were there. At number 39 was CJ McCollum, heading into his first full year with the team and will bring that veteran leadership and presence to such a young team. His playmaking ability and shot-making were huge assets for the Pelicans last season.
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Budding superstar Brandon Ingram appears on the list at #27. It seems fitting as 27 points were his average in last year’s playoff series versus the Phoenix Suns. That playoff debut for Brandon Ingram catapulted him on a national stage and showed the world just what kind of game Ingram has. The sky is the limit regarding his scoring ability, but he flashed another side in averaging a career-high 5.6 assists per game. The expansion in his game in assists and defense will only have him climbing up this list for years to come.
Last but not least, Zion Williamson rounds out the players at number 17 on this list. It has been an entire season since we had the chance to play as he missed the 2021-2022 season, recovering from a foot injury. Zion is a dominant force to be reckoned with when healthy and on the court. He heads into this season healthy and eager to prove his place among the elite. Here’s what CBS Sports had to say.
‘The anticipation surrounding Williamson’s long-awaited return has to be among the most exciting aspects of the upcoming season. The last time we saw this freight train on the floor, he was earning his first All-Star bid and living up to all the hype surrounding him since high school.
Williamson’s sophomore year put him in historic territory, becoming just the third player in league history to average 25 or more points a game while shooting over 60 percent from the field. Williamson joined Hall of Famers Charles Barkley and Kevin McHale to accomplish this feat, and what’s even more impressive is he did it at the age of 20, nine years Younger than when McHale did it and six years Younger than Barkley was at the time.’
Do you agree with the list CSB Sports published? Should anyone have been added or maybe ranked higher? The debate will surely rage on.
With less than a month until preseason, it is good to discuss Pelicans basketball again.
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