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Pelicans’ CJ McCollum sees future All-Defensive teams for Herb Jones

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Herb Jones quietly performed at a high level for the New Orleans Pelicans and emerged as one of the top first-year players throughout the 2021-22 season.

However, his recent play in the playoffs hasn’t been so quiet.

Jones and the Pelicans were featured only a few times on national TV this season and flew relatively under the radar. The team would get some recognition here and there from pundits, but the group was far from a household name.

Now, on the biggest stage in the game, the Pelicans have arrived.

Led by Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum, who was acquired at the trade deadline, the Pelicans overcame a 1-12 start to the season and earned the eighth seed in the play-in tournament. They now sit in a tied series against the Phoenix Suns, who had the best record in the league.

Jones, the 35th pick, has also contributed to the Pelicans’ success and is a big reason why the team finds itself with a chance to beat the best team from the regular season. He has made for himself on the defensive end and is viewed as one of the top perimeter players.

His play has impressed those around him, including McCollum.

It is incredible to see his attention to detail and his athleticism. I’ve never seen a guy this young, this sharp, this smart, this unbothered, this unfazed. He’s getting the toughest assignments every night. It don’t bother him. He comes in the same personality, same swagger. You know what you’re going to get with him. I think the really cool part is he can guard on the ball and off the ball. A lot of guys can’t do that, especially rookies.

Jones averaged 9.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.7 steals in 78 games this season. His 130 total steals ranked third among all players in the NBA while his 243 total deflections were fourth. He was the only player to have at least 120 steals and 50 blocks.

In his latest effort, Jones had 13 points, three assists, three blocked shots, two rebounds and two steals in the Pelicans’ 118-103 win in Game 4 on Sunday. Perhaps most impressive about his performance was all three of his blocks were on 3-point attempts.

Jones received one third-place vote in the Rookie of the Year balloting released on Saturday but the 23-year-old is expected to be in the running for the All-Rookie first team. He could also pick up some votes for an All-Defensive team.

Rookie players earning All-Defensive honors is very rare. In fact, when Matisse Thybulle earned a second-team placement last season, he became only the 26th player ever in their first or second season to accomplish the feat.

Jones may not join Thybulle on that list this season but could do so next year now that his name is on the national radar. The future appears to be very bright in New Orleans as Jones has established himself as a franchise cornerstone.

“The sky is the limit for him,” McCollum said. “He is going to be very good, not only for us but for this league going forward. He’ll be first-team All-Defense as soon as they start watching Pelicans games.”

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

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