Jordan Hawkins’ Time Is Now For New Orleans Pelicans

When head coach Willie Green submits his starting lineup in Denver tonight, don’t be surprised if Jordan Hawkins gets the nod to fill the expansive void alongside Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

The New Orleans Pelicans announced yesterday that guard CJ McCollum was diagnosed with a small pneumothorax in his right lung following an MRI. Per the Mayo Clinic website:

A pneumothorax (noo-moe-THOR-aks) is a collapsed lung. A pneumothorax occurs when air leaks into the space between your lung and chest wall. This air pushes on the outside of your lung and makes it collapse. A pneumothorax can be a complete lung collapse or a collapse of only a portion of the lung.

A pneumothorax can be caused by a blunt or penetrating chest injury, certain medical procedures, or damage from underlying lung disease. Or it may occur for no obvious reason. Symptoms usually include sudden chest pain and shortness of breath. On some occasions, a collapsed lung can be a life-threatening event.

Treatment for a pneumothorax usually involves inserting a needle or chest tube between the ribs to remove the excess air. However, a small pneumothorax may heal on its own.

McCollum appeared to sustain the injury during the third quarter of Saturday’s contest versus the Atlanta Hawks after a collision with Trae Young.

McCollum has already been ruled out for Monday’s matchup against the Nuggets. Although another examination will be performed to determine the progress of healing in the next 24 hours or so, the 11-year veteran is likely to miss additional time.

Before the Pelicans traded for him during the 2021-2022 season, McCollum suffered the same injury while with the Portland Trail Blazers in a Dec. 4 loss to the Boston Celtics. He was sidelined for nearly six weeks of that campaign, missing 18 games in total. The Trail Blazers went 6-12 during the stretch without his services.

The Pelicans must now navigate the schedule without two of their most lethal outside shooters for the foreseeable future. While McCollum’s return timetable is unknown, Trey Murphy, who underwent a successful partial meniscectomy and received a biologic injection in his left knee, is approximately three weeks away from making his season debut, barring any setback.

Three weeks may not be a long time in the grand scheme of things of an 82-game schedule, but the next 21 days are a crucial stretch for the Pelicans. A quick perusal of the upcoming slate of opponents quickly reveals the daunting task ahead.

OpponentMatchup DateOpponent’s Record
@Denver Nuggets11/6/20236-1
@Minnesota Timberwolves11/8/20233-2
@Houston Rockets11/10/20232-3
Dallas Mavericks11/12/20235-1
Dallas Mavericks11/14/20235-1
Denver Nuggets11/17/20236-1
Minnesota Timberwolves11/18/20233-2
Sacramento Kings11/20/20232-3
Sacramento Kings11/22/20232-3
@L.A. Clippers11/24/20233-2
@Utah Jazz11/25/20232-5
@Utah Jazz11/27/20232-5

CJ McCollum was off to a fine start on the season, averaging 21.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.5 steals and knocking down 3.2 three-pointers at a 38.0 percent clip — no one else in the starting lineup is averaging more than one made 3 per game. That’s why replacing McCollum’s volume from the outside is going to be of particular importance to the New Orleans coaching staff.

Enter Jordan Hawkins.

“I can help guys like Zion, CJ and BI get some open shots with my shooting gravity. If {the defense} wants to sag off, I can hit open shots,” Hawkins said minutes after getting selected by the Pelicans in the 2023 NBA draft.

Next to Matt Ryan (9.7), no other New Orleans player has shot 3-pointers as frequently as McCollum (8.6) than Hawkins (9.7).

Due to Ingram’s right knee tendonitis that forced him to miss three games, Hawkins has also already amassed some experience in the starting lineup during his first pro campaign. Although he’s alternated good performances with several quieter ones overall, he set two new career-highs with 15 points and four made 3s against Atlanta.

“I’m really comfortable,” Hawkins said after yesterday’s practice. “I’ve been feeling comfortable since training camp. A couple of days in, I really got the flow of the offense, the guys I’m playing with. Preseason helped a lot. I’m in a very comfortable spot.”

The biggest takeaway from watching Hawkins’ play so far is that his levels of confidence and understanding seem well beyond his years. Teammates have consistently noted these aspects to media since the rookie’s arrival in New Orleans.

“Like I said, Hawk’s confidence is already like a year-7 or year-8 vet,” Williamson said after the loss to Atlanta. “He’s fitting into his role very well. He’s just got to continue building on that.”

Hawkins’ preparation and dedication to his craft have been readily observable too. He consistently stays late after practice honing his jumper. He even took the time to watch Stephen Curry warm-up when the Warriors were in town and then admitted yesterday that he plans to get with one of the greatest shooters of all time during the next offseason.

The Pelicans believe they addressed the pressing need of shooting during the offseason.

“In our process, we targeted Jordan as a really important player and we thought he was going to be a great fit for us going forward,” Trajan Langdon said at Hawkins introductory press conference. “We were very fortunate and excited when he was there at No. 14 and we could grab him and could bring him into the fold. We thought he was the best shooter in the draft.”

The Pelicans undoubtedly added a hard, intelligent worker who displays the utmost confidence in his ability. Hawkins has yet to be phased by anything thrown his way. One should expect for his 31.7 3-point percentage to continue to rise, but if he can adequately replace the missing gravity of McCollum and Murphy over these next three weeks, he will feel like the best shooter from the 2023 NBA draft even if the underlying numbers fully do not support that argument quite yet.

Keeping the floor adequately spaced for Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas is priority one right now. Jordan Hawkins possesses the skill set to fit the bill, and if things work out well, he could provide more than that.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunesSpotifyStitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.


One thought on “Jordan Hawkins’ Time Is Now For New Orleans Pelicans

  1. I like both the additions of Hawkins and Ryan. They should get a lot of open looks and if can consistently make shots will open up things for Zion to dominate. If we play Pels ball, learn how to box out and not give up so many offensive rebounds, we could win 2 out of 3 on this mini road trip.

    CJ we love you and are wishing you the best. Praying for a speedy and 100% recovery, as well as the other 3 TMII, Jose and Naji.


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