NEW ORLEANS – It’s looking like Jordan Hawkins has found his stroke. The rookie sharpshooter, drafted in the lottery largely due to his three-point prowess, is up to 36% from deep after a slow shooting start. Yet even when the shots weren’t falling, Hawkins found ways to impact winning. That’s a hallmark of longtime NBA rotation players. What happens when the shots aren’t going in often makes the difference between a shooter sticking in the NBA or not. Early in his career, Jordan Hawkins looks like the kind of off-ball shooter every team covets.
He Doesn’t Lack Confidence
Confidence is critical for NBA shooters and Hawkins doesn’t lack it. Regardless of his numbers that night, Hawkins relentlessly hunts his shot, filling lanes in transition and setting himself up off of screens. Few rookies can match his footwork and shot preparation, sprinting into his jumpers with ready hands and feet.
He’s notched eight or more three-point attempts in seven of his first 13 games and commands real defensive respect. Defenders must close out hard to Hawkins and run him off of the line. Fear is a shooter’s best friend and Hawkins has the confidence and skill to wear down defenders who chase him around all night.
When defenders run Hawkins off of the line, he’s responded with positive decisions. Hawkins won’t ever be an elite, all-rounded scorer but he doesn’t need to be. Thirteen games in, the flashes of closeout attacks and sound decisions made are positive signs for Hawkins’ development as an overall offensive player.
A Competitive Defender
Rookies generally bleed value defensively and that’s been the case with Hawkins as well. He’s had a difficult time adjusting to NBA-level strength and physicality and the footwork and awareness need honing. Though most NBA players outmatch Hawkins physically, he always competes and invites contact on defense. Once he adds strength, that tendency will prove hugely beneficial.
Even when Hawkins makes mistakes, he’s working within the system — attempting weak-side rotations, reading the paths opposing ballhandlers take and clogging up space with his activity. That can’t be said for the majority of the Pelicans’ roster. Outside of Herb Jones and Dyson Daniels, players stand around and watch on defense. Hawkins’ effort is a noticeable bright spot even if the overall product is far from finished.
He Belongs at This Level
Jordan Hawkins plays basketball like he’s been there before. Maybe that’s because he has, operating within NBA-level systems with NBA-level talent. All rookies struggle upon entering the league. Hawkins is no different. Yet the flashes and positives point to Hawkins developing into a positive NBA player for many years to come.
Written by contributor Ben Pfeifer.
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