Jose Alvarado is a professional pest who’s terrific at getting
under his opponent’s skin.
Trey Murphy III has experienced this firsthand.
Before Alvarado and Murphy were teammates on the New Orleans
Pelicans, they faced off against each other in college as ACC
“We can even throw it back to college when I used to play
against him at Virginia. I hated playing against Jose; he was just
so annoying. I couldn’t stand him,” Murphy told reporters recently.
“Even my parents and my cousins couldn’t stand him. That just shows
the type of player he was.
“And now [that] he’s on my team, I just love him to death. I
love playing with Jose. He’s one of those players where you hate to
play against him and love to have him on your team. Everybody needs
one of those guys on the team.”
Alvarado spent four seasons at Georgia Tech, leading the Yellow
Jackets to their first ACC title since 1993 and taking home the ACC
Defensive Player of the Year award as a senior. But given his age
(23 years old) and size (6-feet), he had a hard time standing out
during the NBA pre-draft process and he ultimately went
Last August, Alvarado signed a two-way contract with New Orleans
and he split time between the Pelicans and their NBA G League
affiliate, the Birmingham Squadron. In 54 games with the Pelicans
last season, Alvarado averaged 6.1 points, 2.8 assists, 1.9
rebounds and 1.3 steals (on .446/.291/.679 shooting splits) in 15.4
minutes as a reserve. During his five games with the Squadron, he
dominated to the tune of 19.8 points, 6.8 assists, 6.0 rebounds,
3.4 steals and 2.4 threes per game (while shooting 52.1% from the
field, 42.9% from three and 75% from the free-throw
Alvarado was a pleasant surprise who emerged as a key
contributor for New Orleans down the stretch. His playing time
increased over the final 20 games of the season and he responded by
averaging 8.2 points, 4.0 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals in
roughly 20 minutes per game. The Pelicans rewarded his production
by converting his deal into a standard four-year, $6.5 million
contract in March.
However, Alvarado's true coming-out party was the 2021 NBA
Playoffs. During the Pelicans' first-round series against the
Phoenix Suns, he won over a ton of fans by being a pest and
providing a ton of energy off of the bench.
Who was this fearless undrafted rookie who was stepping up
on the NBA’s biggest stage, picking up Chris Paul full-court,
getting his hands in the passing lanes and hitting clutch
During that series, Alvarado found a ton of ways to impact each
game while averaging 8.0 points, 1.5 assists and 1.2 steals (on
.485/.375/.769 shooting splits) in 19.5 minutes a night.
After his productive rookie campaign, Alvarado was determined to
carry that momentum into the offseason. Throughout the summer, he
focused on improving his confidence and consistency.
“I worked on just being more confident in myself from last
year,” Alvarado explained. “I’m just learning and trying to be more
consistent. I’m not the most athletic, so my floater and jump shot
have to be there. It’s mostly about just locking in this whole
season and being confident. My teammates always look for me and
make my job easier.”
Alvarado knows that defenses are going to focus on Brandon
Ingram, CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson this season, so he needs to
knock down his open shots when those opportunities present
“It’s important for me and for my confidence. When I’m out
there, I have to at least be a little bit of a threat,” Alvarado
said. “When I’m out there with CJ, BI and Zion, they’re going to
leave someone open, and they’re not going to leave them open.
They’re going to see, and I’m going to make them pay. Me making
shots will make them second guess and think that they can’t just
leave me open. I just want to do my part as being a threat out
It seems that Alvarado’s offseason training has paid off, as
Pelicans head coach Willie Green has noticed a difference in his
point guard. When asked about Alvarado’s improvement, Green raved
about “his confidence” and added that “he has a great understanding
of what we want [from him]… to come in and have a spark.”
The Pelicans are off to a 3-1 start, and their depth is a big
reason for their early success. Against the Dallas Mavericks on
Tuesday, New Orleans was without Ingram, Williamson and Herb Jones
due to injuries, yet they still managed to win the game. Alvarado
was one of eight Pelicans who scored in double figures, which tied
a franchise record.
“Depth, depth, depth,” Larry Nance Jr. said after the Pelicans'
win. “We were missing two guys who can go get you 30 on any given
night in [Williamson] and [Ingram], and another guy who can keep
you from getting 30 in Herb. We were missing a lot... This team has
talent in abundance."
Alvarado finished the game with 13 points, 3 assists, 3
rebounds, 2 steals and a three, while shooting 75.0% from the field
and 33.3% from three.
"Jose is hard to describe, but you just know he’s going to bring
that passion and energy to the game that you would want to see from
anybody,” Williamson told reporters recently. “He knows how to make
himself a threat. Don’t let him fool y’all… He’s doing this off the
bench. We have a special group.”