Pelicans.com continues its look back at the 2015-16 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:
New Orleans began the regular season with no rookies and few ultra-young players on its roster, but the signing of Bryce Dejean-Jones in January began a wave of adding contributors with upside and room to improve. Although he only played in 14 games before a broken right wrist ended his season just as it was beginning to take off, Dejean-Jones showed versatility and the ability to be an impact player on both ends of the floor. The Iowa State product initially demonstrated his NBA potential during a quality performance in Las Vegas during ’15 summer league, but the athletic wing was cut by New Orleans during training camp due to a roster crunch, particularly at point guard (the Pelicans needed to sign Ish Smith and Toney Douglas for games in the first week of the regular season).
The unfortunate series of teammates injuries and subsequent release eventually led to a D-League stint for Dejean-Jones, but once he got an opportunity to play for New Orleans, he quickly impressed. In his first NBA start – while still on an initial 10-day contract – the California native delivered 14 points and three three-pointers to help beat Sacramento.
“He surprised a lot of us,” Pelicans assistant coach Phil Weber said. “We felt he was pretty good, but he jumped up and had some good games for us.
“He had such a good summer league and we liked him. Us bringing him back (to the roster), we feel he can do things both offensively and defensively. We’re going to focus on all aspects of his game. We need players that are two-way players, and Bryce is a two-way player right now. He’s young and his maturity will grow. We’re excited to have a young player in the system that potentially could become a solid rotation guy.”
While logging a total of 279 minutes, Dejean-Jones showed a knack for making an impact on both ends of the floor, a valuable trait for a New Orleans team in its push to make more hustle plays and improve defensively.
“He’s a basketball player – he has an innate knack for getting his hands on the ball, coming up with strips, one or two a game,” Weber said. “The potential is there. We were very pleased with what he did in the minutes he got.”
When the end of the regular season concluded, Dejean-Jones was waiting to be cleared to return to basketball activity from the injury to his shooting wrist. He’s looking forward to seeing the additional strides he can make in Year 2 of his pro career.
“I’ll be working on my whole game, all parts,” he said. “When I got to play I tried to do whatever I could to help the team win on both ends of the court. What happened was an unfortunate situation, because I was looking forward to keeping improving and working toward next season.”
TOP THREE BRYCE DEJEAN-JONES GAMES OF 2015-16
#3, Jan. 30: New Orleans 105, Brooklyn 103
In his second NBA start, Dejean-Jones supplied eight points and nine rebounds to help the Pelicans hold off the Nets. Jrue Holiday scored the game-winning hoop in the final seconds with a tough two-point jumper.
#2, Feb. 4: L.A. Lakers 99, New Orleans 96
Although it came in a frustrating home loss, this was Dejean-Jones’ career-best scoring game (17 points) and tied for his top rebounding effort (9 rebounds). The rookie played a whopping 43 minutes, 14 seconds; his next-largest playing time of the season was 35:58.
#1, Jan. 28: New Orleans 114, Sacramento 105
Making a surprise start, his first in the NBA, Dejean-Jones was a big factor, scoring 14 points while adding two rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block. He was 3/6 from three-point range.
BEHIND THE NUMBERS
8-6: New Orleans record in the 14 games Dejean-Jones played, one of its best stretches of the season. The Pelicans were 6-3 at home, 2-3 on the road (just 7-29 in the other away games).
1: Player on the Pelicans’ season-ending roster younger than Dejean-Jones (born Aug. 21, 1992). Anthony Davis (March 11, 1993) is the only player to fit that description.
11.2: Scoring average for Dejean-Jones over a five-game span from Jan. 28 to Feb. 4. He also averaged 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals during that stretch.