Jordan Hawkins’ Mulitfaceted Offensive Game Makes Him a Real Weapon For The Pelicans

Rookie seasons are inconsistent. That’s been the case for Jordan Hawkins, who played just two minutes in the New Orleans Pelicans’ loss to the Denver Nuggets. The following night, Hawkins exploded for a career-high 34 points on a scorching 72% true shooting and 50% from three, adding five boards, four assists and two steals. 

It’s the fifth time this season that Hawkins launched 12 or more threes in a game, the hallmark of his offensive game. High-volume movement shooters warp defenses like few other archetypes of players can and Hawkins fits that bill. He flies around screens, comfortable setting up and firing from anywhere on the court, inside or outside of the arc.

Hawkins sets up his shot like a seasoned veteran, organizing and lining up his feet to face the basket no matter his approach angle. That strong technique supplements his elite contortion in midair, turning his torso to face the rim and square up. All of the best off-movement shooters — JJ Redick, Kyle Korver, Duncan Robinson, etc. —share this trait.

Hawkins and Jonas Valanciunas are developing chemistry together. There’s synergy in their dribble-handoff game, as Valanciunas wedges out space to free Hawkins on shots and drives. He’s deadly on dribble-handoff and curl actions already, two of the Pelicans’ most common offensive components.

Those dribble-handoffs allow Hawkins to thrive as a passer, as well. He flashed excellent passing and closeout attacking against Dallas, exploiting his shooting threat to penetrate. When Hawkins drove and drew help, he had the awareness and vision to find the low man. Hawkins even found a rolling big man as a pick-and-roll ballhandler late in the game, a strong sign of his growing passing confidence.

The same balance and body control that allows Hawkins to thrive as a shooter aids his passing. On the above play, Hawkins slows down from a full sprint, laying the ball down to Herb Jones without crashing into the low defender. Toggling between speeds is often challenging for young guards and it will mark an improvement point for Hawkins in the coming years.

Along with the pacing, progressing as a ballhandler will unlock new avenues for Hawkins to demoralize defenses with his shotmaking. In tight spaces, Hawkins’s handle often fails him. When he speeds himself up, especially against pressure, defenses pluck the ball away all too easily.

Ball control is fixable, though, and Hawkins doesn’t need an elite handle to succeed as a player. It has to function well enough to drive Hawkins to his favorite shooting spots, which is a goal well within his reach.

Hawkins will likely have more quiet games throughout his rookie year and some where he plays few if any minutes. Hopefully, he continues to stack strong offensive performances like this one. He’s already one of the team’s better shooters and his ancillary skills continue to grow. It wouldn’t shock me if Hawkins found a regular rotation slot before the season’s end.

Analysis by Ben Pfeifer

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One thought on “Jordan Hawkins’ Mulitfaceted Offensive Game Makes Him a Real Weapon For The Pelicans

  1. Hawkins needs two things

    Consistent playing time.
    A coach that believes you can win with offense.

    It does appear that Willie G is beginning to see the light (and the value of Hawkins’ elite scoring abilities).

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