New Orleans arguably had the NBA’s most productive rookie class in 2021-22, despite not using a draft pick higher than No. 17 overall last July. The Pelicans’ trio of first-year pros also proved their value during the playoffs, a portion of the NBA campaign many top draftees are forced to watch on TV, with their teams already eliminated.
After helping New Orleans finish near the top of various statistical categories in production by first-year players, starting wing Herbert Jones earned a spot on the NBA’s All-Rookie second team Wednesday evening. The honor came as little surprise, considering Jones essentially finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting in April, a hair behind fourth-place Jalen Green and fifth-place Franz Wagner.
Despite being chosen No. 35 overall last summer, Jones was one of the premier members of his draft class, ranking first in steals (1.7 spg, second among rookies was teammate Jose Alvarado at 1.3). Jones ranked second in games played (78), third in blocks (0.8 bpg), as well as in the top 20 among rookies in numerous other categories.
With Jones, the undrafted Alvarado and first-round pick Trey Murphy III each delivering notable contributions, the Pelicans finished seventh in scoring by rookies during the regular season – all six teams ahead of them boasted a lottery pick (Oklahoma City, Houston, Indiana, Orlando, Detroit and Toronto). Through Tuesday’s action, New Orleans rookies led all playoff teams in rookie scoring (23.8 ppg), leading the next-best club (Toronto at 14.5) by a wide margin.