Transcript: Kira Lewis Jr. 2020 NBA Draft Interview

On playing for New Orleans native Avery Johnson in college:“It was great picking one of the best point guards to ever do it’s – in my opinion – brain. I learned a lot from him…leadership, passes, different pick-and-roll reads. It was great learning from him. He taught me a lot while he was there in his one year with me, so I was very happy that I got the experience with him and it helped me a lot.”

On his comfort level playing in Alabama’s fast-paced offensive system last season:“I felt very comfortable playing as fast as I could, trying to score as fast as I could with pace, get the best shot we could. I felt very comfortable because most of the stuff we do (at Alabama), Coach (Nate Oats) told us it kind of assimilates some of the NBA stuff they run. So just really getting me ready and getting me familiar with it helped me a lot.”

On styling his game after De’Aaron Fox and Lou Williams, and what makes him unique in this draft class:“I’d have to say speed, number one. Being able to score, create for my teammates as well. I feel like what makes me unique is that I feel like I can do pretty much a little bit of everything, whether it’s shoot, pass, dribble, defend a little bit. I feel like I’m kind of overall better than any guard in the draft, so I feel like bringing that to the Pelicans will be a good thing.”

On putting on weight this offseason and if there are other things he’s been working on:“It was a big plus to add weight for the situation I’m going to. What I’m working on when I get there is just coming off, being a better pick-and-roll player, making the right reads, getting my teammates involved, getting better on the defensive end…just coming in and trying to be the most complete player I can be to help the team and the organization.”

On having lunch with the Pelicans and his first impressions of the organization:“It was great, man. It was a laid-back, calm conversation. We laughed and joked. I got to learn them as well as them getting to learn me. I’d have to say that was one of my best workouts. I felt very comfortable. They showed me a lot of things to work on to help me with my game, and I just felt like it was a great overall day with them.”

On some of the things he will continue to work on:“Just making different passes with my left hand, being to play off of two feet, finishing through contact, ball-handling…pretty much just everything a point guard has to do to be very good in this league.”

On what parts of his game he was able to improve the most on from year one to year two at Alabama:“I feel like my ball-handling got better, making better reads, being able to play from slow to fast, adding a Euro to avoid charges. My defense got better. I just got more comfortable from year one to year two in every aspect, whether it was finishing at the rim…but I know I’m going to a more challenging league, so I want to get even better at those things.”

On the fit in New Orleans and his level of comfort coming to the Pelicans:“This is a great fit – just the way they play, the young guys they have, playing in the open floor, wanting to compete. New Orleans is a great city, they love basketball, so I feel like this is a great situation that I’m going into, and I couldn’t be happier.”

On wanting to be in New Orleans:“Like I said, the young core guys, the older guys they have, they mesh well, they compete. They like toget out and run and play above the rim. I just feel like the city is great, they come out and support (theteam), I just feel like it was a great situation for me and I can come in and help them with whatever they[ask of me].”

On if he felt that New Orleans was going to be a destination for him leading up to the draft:“Just talking to [the team], I feel like they liked my game a lot, and then I’d say when the [proposedtrades] happened, it fit well for me to come in and they might need a point guard, or someone tobackup, whatever the case may be. I just feel like from watching what the experts say, I just felt like NewOrleans would be a destination for me to go to, and I feel like it was a great situation and I’m glad thatI’m here.”

On the team’s style of play and roster construction:“I don’t know how we’ll play with (new Head Coach Stan Van Gundy), but from watching last year andyears before, they play freely. They want to get out (in transition) and get easy opportunities, so I don’tknow how we’ll play with Coach Van Gundy coming in, but I feel like maybe that situation will fit us well,maybe we’ll keep playing like that, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to come in with great knowledge ofhow he wants to play, and I know he knows what he’s doing, so I can’t wait to see what that is.”

On his effort on the defensive end:“I wanted to get better defensively from year one to year two in college, just watching a lot of film,getting the upper-hand on your opponent and knowing what his tendencies are as a point guard, andjust being able to anticipate. I feel like that’s one of my biggest components on the defensive end.”