JJ Redick greets Josh Hart during a timeout at Sacramento

Pelicans Playback: Three takeaways from Daniel Sallerson’s April 1 appearance

by Jim Eichenhofer

Prior to Wednesday’s rebroadcast of New Orleans’ Feb. 11 win vs. Portland, Pelicans radio host/analyst Daniel Sallerson joined Fox Sports New Orleans TV sideline reporter Jennifer Hale on the “Pelicans Playback” show. Here are three takeaways:

JJ Redick’s leadership and experience have been invaluable.

During a few interview sessions this season, the 35-year-old shooting guard has taking some umbrage with the idea that he’s already partly in “coach mode” at this stage of his career – because he’s still a very productive and effective player (14.9 ppg, second in NBA in three-point percentage). But there’s no doubt that under these particular circumstances – New Orleans has numerous key young players and dealt with significant adversity early in 2019-20 – Redick’s intangibles are vital.

“He really feels like an extra coach,” described Sallerson, alluding to some of what behind-the-scenes access can reveal about a player. “We’re really blessed to be able to watch practices and even shootarounds, where you can just see him getting other guys involved, teaching some of the other guards. He’s a true professional. There’s a reason why he’s made the playoffs in all 13 seasons of his career. He’s one of those veteran leaders who has attention to detail, with a high basketball IQ.”

Lonzo Ball can take his game to another level.

A Twitter user asked how close the team’s starting point guard might be to reaching an All-Star level. After making immense strides and emerging as an integral part of New Orleans’ midseason surge, Sallerson responded, “He’s getting close already. If you look at how he’s progressed throughout the season, he said it himself that he wasn’t as healthy as he would have liked to be at the beginning of the season. Now that he’s fully healthy and bought in to the Pelicans’ offense, he’s able to run the floor as much as he wants.”

Play of the season so far? It may be an unlikely floater in January.

The Pelicans entered a Jan. 4 game at Golden 1 Center having played well over a stretch of previous games, but still were just 11-24 following a Jan. 3 loss at the Lakers. After a big fourth-quarter lead evaporated against the Kings, Redick saved the day with an improbable, left-handed banked-in floater for a 117-115 win.

“It was a tough back-to-back and the Pelicans really needed that win before heading home,” Sallerson said, responding to a query about his favorite play of '19-20. “JJ, with how graceful he was with the floater, it was just an unbelievable moment on the road. The crowd went silent. It kind of set the tone for the rest of January and helped the Pelicans get back into playoff contention.”

New Orleans went 8-5 the remainder of that month, picking up key wins over Utah, Memphis (twice) and Boston.

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