Has Jose Alvarado Peaked In Value, Or Can He Add More For The Pelicans’ Bench?

New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado continued to terrorize opposing guards in year three.

He’s a staple in the Pelicans’ rotation, as his pesky defensive playmaking, energy, and three-point shooting are all valuable traits. As New Orleans hopes to improve their guard depth, how will Alvarado factor in moving forward?

Grand theft Alvarado still hides behind the hoop and rips oblivious inbounders from behind. He’s elite at generating turnovers even beyond his gimmicks, though. Alvarado’s 2.8% steal rate (among regular rotation players) ranked fifth among guards last season. He swoops in to pluck ballhandlers on digs and stunts and slides at the point of attack with his lightning-quick feet and hands to generate turnovers. 

Despite his excellent speed and disruption, Alvarado’s size will always limit his defensive impact. Taller handlers score over him with ease and though he’ll rotate down to protect the paint, Alvarado lacks the size to contest forcefully. His aggressive style meshes perfectly with New Orleans’ attacking defense, rendering him a valuable defensive role player.

Alvarado took a three-point shooting leap this season, upping his efficiency from deep to a strong 37.7%. He’s an ideal off-ball guard next to big initiators like Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, spacing the floor and moving off the ball while others run the offense. Reliable spacing will always be critical on a Zion Williamson team, making Alvarado’s shooting jump all the more valuable.

His passing is solid, as Alvarado operates secondary pick and rolls with pace and burst to move downhill. He’s not a natural playmaker, though and struggles to pass over defenders given his lack of size. New Orleans’ dearth of passing and ballhandling on the roster forced Alvarado into a role with more initiating than may be optimal for him. 

Scoring struggles limit Alvarado’s threat as a handler and a playmaker. He struggles immensely to score inside the arc, shooting in the bottom quartile efficiency at the rim (57.7%) and from mid-range (34.3%). When other ballhandlers need a spell, Alvarado isn’t a deadly enough scorer to pressure defenses and run an effective offense. 

Roster limitations forced Alvarado into a less-than-ideal role, but his spark plug energy always impacts the game. His activity can be infectious, throwing his body around, creating chaos and sparking Pelican runs. Hopefully, the Pelicans infuse their roster with more true on-ball guards, letting Alvarado play off of the ball where he fits more naturally.

Analysis by Ben Pfeifer

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