The 2019 NBA Summer League is underway. Throughout the Summer League, we get our first look at some exciting rookies and summer league vets looking to make a roster spot. In this article, I will recap performances from some notable players on the New Orleans Pelicans Summer League roster.
GP: 1, PPG: 30.0, FG%: 65%, RPG: 3.0
- vs. New York Knicks: 30 Points, 3 Rebounds, FG%: 65%
Frank Jackson is entering his third year in the league, but his rookie season was lost due to a foot injury. Jackson, an exciting young talent out of Duke, has been a bench player throughout his short career, struggling with consistency and injuries. He has only played in one game this summer, but he has definitely proven that he can be a valuable piece for the Pelicans this coming season. In his one game, he dominated the Knicks, going off for 30 points while shooting a very efficient 11/17 from the field and 5/9 from behind the arc. The Pelicans seem to be holding him out for the rest of the summer league in order to take a look at their other prospects, due to his roster spot being locked up.
Don’t expect these kinds of numbers to carry over into the regular season, but if Jackson can continue to improve upon his consistency and stay on the court, he can be a great asset to this young Pelicans team this season.
GP: 2, PPG: 24.5, FG%: 53%, APG: 7.0
- vs. Chicago Bulls: Points: 23 Points, 8 Assists, 3 Steals, FG%: 56.2%
- vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: 26 Points, 6 Assists, 5 Rebounds, FG%: 50%
Nickeil Alexander-Walker was the 17th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, but he is surely playing like a top 10 talent. He was held out of the first two summer league games since he was involved in the Anthony Davis trade that had not officially gone through yet, but he has not wasted any time making a name for himself. He has absolutely dominated in all facets of the game in his two performances, proving he has a good three-point shot, excellent court vision, and all-around playmaking ability. He is also extremely versatile, in the sense that he can play at point guard or shooting guard, giving Alvin Gentry some roster flexibility.
I fully expect Lonzo Ball to start the season off as the starting point guard, but Alexander-Walker has proven himself to be more than just a bench player. At some point in the season, we could see him fighting Ball for the starting point guard gig or even play some valuable minutes at shooting guard. His versatility and playmaking will get him in the game in some big moments if he can carry over his summer league performance thus far. Alexander-Walker played in one of the slowest paced offenses in college, but now in a fast-paced Pelicans offense, he will get a chance to showcase all of his skills in the NBA. Although these performances have come against other fringe-roster players, it is hard not to get excited for what’s to come for this guy. Here’s a clip of his 26 point outburst against the Cavaliers, showing he can do it all.
GP: 2, PPG: 20.5, FG%: 70%, RPG: 5.5, BPG: 2.0
- vs. Chicago Bulls: 28 Points, 4 Rebounds, 3 Blocks, FG%: 66.7%
- vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: 13 Points, 7 Rebounds, 1 Block, FG%: 75%
Jaxson Hayes was selected with the 8th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and has been another very exciting rookie for this Pelicans squad. Like Alexander-Walker, Hayes was involved in the Anthony Davis trade and did not suit up for the first two summer league games. But in his two games on the court, he has played remarkably well. He has dominated in the paint and on the boards and even converted on his lone three-point attempt.
At 6-foot-11 and 220 lbs, he is expected to be a big presence down low, but he told reporters that he has also been working on his outside shot this summer. He has done more than enough to make his presence known when he’s been on the court. The Pelicans already have Derrick Favors and Jahlil Okafor down low, but if Hayes continues to perform as he has been, he can carve out a big role for the Pelicans this season, and maybe even earn a starting spot later in the season.
Hayes has had a few highlight-worthy plays this summer whether it is a monster jam, a rejection sent into the seats, or even a rare three-pointer, but nothing compares to this high-flying jam against the Bulls. I would like to personally apologize for the disrespect Hayes showed you, Mychal Mulder, but this is just nasty.
Jim Ross on the call 😂#SummerPelicans @hayes_jaxson pic.twitter.com/Ck7qEdNeRQ
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) July 9, 2019
GP: 2, PPG: 12.5, FG%: 50%, 3P%: 55.6%, APG: 2.0
- vs. Chicago Bulls: 13 Points, 3 Rebounds, 2 Steals, FG%: 50.0%, 3P%: 75%
- vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: 12 Points, 3 Assists, FG%: 50.0%, 3P%: 40%
Pelicans’ second-round selection, Didi Louzada, has also only played in two summer league games due to the Anthony Davis trade, but he has impressed with his shot-making ability. The Pelicans chose to go through the “draft-and-stash” option with Louzada. This means that he will begin his career with the Sydney Kings as part of the NBL’s Next Stars program. He will also receive English tutoring and has an NBA out clause next summer, opening the door for him to rejoin the Pelicans team in 2020.
In his two games, he has shot very well from all over the court, most notably from three point range, converting 5/9 from behind the arc. If he can refine his skills as a shooter and playmaker, Louzada can be a nice role player for the Pelicans in the future and can easily be a steal in the second round.
GP: 4, PPG: 11.0, FG%: 68%, RPG: 9.0, BPG: 1.0
- vs. New York Knicks: 12 Points, 10 Rebounds, 2 Blocks, FG%: 83.3%
- vs. Washington Wizards: 14 Points, 14 Rebounds, 1 Block, FG%: 55.6%
- vs. Chicago Bulls: Points: 5 Points, 6 Rebounds, 1 Block, FG%: 66.7%
- vs. Cleveland Caveliers: 13 Points, 6 Rebounds, FG%: 71.4%
Kavell Bigby-Williams, an undrafted free agent out of LSU, has been a nice surprise for the Pelicans this summer. He began summer league play with two straight double-doubles and continued to impress in the following two games. Not the most athletic guy on the court, Bigby-Williams brought to the Pelicans what he showed in his short stint with LSU, he is a hard worker, gritty defender, and efficient in the paint.
It will be very difficult for Bigby-Williams to secure a roster spot with the Pelicans due to their depth down low, but he has looked very promising thus far. The Pelicans would be wise to keep him around on their G-League roster so he can refine his game, and maybe one day contribute to the Pelicans in the regular season.
GP: 1, PPG: 11.0, FG%: 44%, RPG: 3.0, SPG: 1.0
- vs. New York Knicks: 11 Points, 3 Rebounds, 1 Steal
Last, but not least, we have this guy you may have heard of, Zion Williamson. The overall No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft had one of the most highly anticipated summer league debuts in recent memory. Everyone that tuned into the Pelicans-Knicks game was there for the Zion-RJ Barrett battle. He only played nine minutes due to a knee injury that is not considered to be serious, but he had a few highlight-reel plays in those few minutes. He seemed to be forcing mid-range and three-point shots toward the beginning of his debut, but we can chalk that up to nerves, which is understandable even for someone of his pedigree. Once he got into his groove, he was hard to stop.
The Pelicans are opting to hold Zion out for the remainder of the summer league to be “extra cautious” with their franchise cornerstone (HUGE bummer), but this is the right move for the Pelicans. Zion has nothing to prove in the summer league and should focus on staying healthy and continue to get himself in game shape for the regular season. Now, this is not saying that he has nothing to work on before the season begins. Along with his conditioning and physical build, he will need to work on his shooting ability, both mid-range and three-point.
ZION DID THAT TO KEVIN KNOX 😤 #SCtop10 pic.twitter.com/k6Rl18f18w
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 6, 2019