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‘He changed my life’: Jose Alvarado reflects on playing for Willie Green

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Jose Alvarado emerged as a key player this season with the New Orleans Pelicans, and the undrafted guard credited head coach Willie Green for much of his success.

The Pelicans were eliminated from the playoffs on Thursday by the Phoenix Suns. The loss, though tough, capped off an incredible season for the group after starting 1-12. They earned the eighth seed in the play-in tournament and pushed the top-seeded Suns to six games.

Alvarado played an integral role in helping the Pelicans make some noise in the second half of the season and in the playoffs. He even became a favorite in New Orleans because of his infectious playing style bringing immense energy and effort on a nightly basis.

The former Georgia Tech standout averaged eight points, 1.5 assists, 1.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals off the bench for the Pelicans in the playoffs. He became a menace on defense and often gave Chris Paul fits throughout the series.

Alvarado praised Green for his opportunity this season.

He is my Coach of the Year. That guy made me a better person, a better man and a better player. What he did with us, just keeping us in that right mindset the whole year even when it got rough, and everyone doubted us, he was the one that had our back the whole time. I couldn’t thank him enough. He changed my life so I’m glad I get to call him my coach for the next four years.

Alvarado played sparingly to begin the season and was even in the NBA G League for a stint. He eventually entered the rotation on Jan. 1 and didn’t look back, averaging 6.9 points, 3.1 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals the rest of the season.

Remarkably, Alvarado finished fourth in total steals among all rookies despite only logging 834 minutes; the three players above him each played more than 2,000 minutes. Certainly, Alvarado showed out when he was given the green light to play.

With the emergence of Alvarado, the Pelicans appear to be set up well for the future. They extensively relied on two other rookies, Herb Jones and Trey Murphy III, and each looked to be franchise cornerstones. When added next to their nucleus, they could be a perennial playoff team.

Alvarado is among the players just getting started.

“It is just the beginning and I can’t wait to go back and learn,” Alvarado said. “It is going to be an important summer. I’m definitely going to get stronger, better and shoot better. I can’t wait.”

This post originally appeared on Rookie Wire! Follow us on Facebook!

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