2021-22 Pelicans Season in Review: Herbert Jones

Age: 23

NBA experience: One season (one with Pelicans)

Games played/games started: 78/69

Key stats: 9.5 ppg, 2.1 apg, 1.7 spg, 0.8 bpg, 47.6 FG percentage, 84.0 FT percentage

Herbert Jones 2021-22 Pelicans Season Overview

Not long after his ultra-successful rookie NBA season ended with a Game 6 playoff loss to Phoenix on April 28, New Orleans starting wing Herbert Jones was asked to assess the strides his team made over the course of an eventful campaign.

“Extremely far,” Jones said of the Pelicans’ progress. “I feel like we exceeded expectations a lot of people had on us.”

To an even greater degree, the same thing could be said of the second-round pick from the University of Alabama. Despite lasting until the 35th selection of the 2021 NBA Draft, Jones finished the regular season ranked first among all rookies in steals (130), second in games played (78), third in blocks (60) and third in minutes (2,335). The defensive-minded Jones quickly made himself invaluable to the Pelicans, going from out of the rotation in the season opener vs. Philadelphia (3:15 of mop-up time), to a starter in the very next game (at Chicago), a role he held from Nov. 24 through the rest of the season, including eight postseason games. He logged 37.7 minutes per game in Round 1 against the Suns, third on the Pelicans behind only Brandon Ingram (39.3) and CJ McCollum (37.0).

“Herb grew up,” McCollum said of Jones’ development in 2021-22, capped by his April showing vs. Phoenix. “He had the talent, he had the ability. Now he had the stage to kind of show what he had to offer. Not only on defense, but on offense – driving, pushing in transition, showing creative finishes. He got to really show his versatility.”

Jones was described by analysts as a non-shooter and limited offensive player entering the draft, but dramatically improved his accuracy at the three-point and foul lines compared to college, via diligent daily work in the practice gym. Like his team – which started 3-16 prior to him becoming a permanent starter – Jones made an enormous leap from October to April.

“That was just a testament to showing up every day and wanting to get better, regardless of how the previous day went, or what was going on,” Jones said, when asked about the Pelicans’ progress in 2021-22. “We showed up and continued to put in the work.”

Highlights: Herbert Jones 2021-22 Pelicans Season Recap

Herbert Jones By the Numbers

5: Rank in total minutes this season among all NBA players who were second-round draft picks. Jones logged 2,335. The only second-rounders who played more were Jalen Brunson (2,524), Nikola Jokic (2,476), Gary Trent Jr. (2,448) and Patty Mills (2,346).

4: Rank among all NBA rookies in free throw percentage (minimum 100 attempts) for Jones, whose rate of 84.0 placed him behind only lottery pick Franz Wagner (86.3), first-rounder Bones Hyland (85.6) and No. 1 overall selection Cade Cunningham (84.5).

190: Total steals (130) and blocks (60) for Jones as a rookie, setting a New Orleans franchise record in “stocks” by a first-year player. The previous mark was held for nearly a decade by Anthony Davis, who notched 187 during the 2012-13 season.

Herbert Jones' Three Most Notable Games

No. 1: Dec. 28, New Orleans 108, Cleveland 104

In helping the Pelicans rally from a 23-point deficit, Jones demonstrated his ability to be more than just a defensive force, depositing a career-high 26 points. Jones shot 10/18 from the field and 4/4 at the foul line. For good measure, he blocked three Cavs shots.

No. 2: Feb. 4, New Orleans 113, Denver 105

During the most efficient offensive performance of his rookie season, Jones disrupted the Nuggets (two steals) and raced past them for transition buckets. He finished with 25 points on 8/10 shooting from the field, as well as 6/6 accuracy on free throws.

No. 3: April 24, New Orleans 118, Phoenix 103

In Game 4 of the playoffs, Jones produced a very #NotOnHerb performance, with 13 points (7/8 on free throws), three assists, two steals and three blocks. All three of Jones’ highlight-reel rejections came on Phoenix perimeter jumpers.

From the 12

Each player review features a poll or question directed to the New Orleans fan base. For Jones, the question was: What was your favorite or the most fun aspect(s) of his debut season in the NBA? Some of the responses:

@TheOriginalTR: The fact we got him at 35 (in the draft).

@Ed_Matthews_: I like it when he makes it hard for the other team to score.

@hanx3sports: Denver game fourth quarter (on Feb. 4). Star path opened up that night.

@neyonirvana: When Herb closed out Jokic and the Nuggets.

@juanitabarker6: He’s the calm before the storm! Quietness! But dangerous on the floor!

@gogoingram: The (Dave) Chappelle dunk (Editor’s note: Jones’ expression while hanging on the rim after a slam became a popular photo and meme, referencing the Prince/pickup basketball skit from Chappelle’s Show).

@lambofjam72: That he turned into a pro. Some guys just have it.

@adstock13: How smart he is.