Watch Out, Here Comes Jordan Hawkins
11/06/23—Pelicans Loss to Jokic and the Denver Nuggets: 134-116
The Pelicans have begun a problematic pattern and it's their game in the third quarter. What was once a 20 point lead over the reigning NBA champions became an 18 point loss due to an inability to execute in the third.
The Pels outshot the Nuggets at a rate of 61% at the half to gain a lead of 71-59. Yet again, we struggled in the opening moments of the 3rd quarter, only putting up 21 points in comparison to the Nuggets' 40. Even our star player Zion Willamson had fallen through on layups he typically makes in this treacherous second half. Coach Willie Green cited the problem as an undeveloped "sense of urgency" of the Pels players—and promised to pressure them to "be better."
"We have the formula [to win] is what I keep telling the guys," said Coach Green. "We just need to bring it for 48 minutes."
But let's not waste time talking about our losses. Let's talk about our winnings—as this game solidified our 2023-24 draft pick was a win.
This Season with Jordan Hawkins
After winning the 2023 NCAA championship with UCONN, Jordan Hawkins quickly announced he'd enter the 2023 NBA draft. The Pelicans picked up Hawkins as the 14th pick of the first round draft for his shooting capabilities, with some calling him the best shooter in this year's draft altogether.
During the three games this past week, Ingram was inactive due to a sore knee and now McCollum inactive due to a collapsed lung. Hawkins, or 'Hawk' as the team has nicknamed him, had stepped up to the plate.
Warming up for the Warriors game on October 30, Hawkins had found out he'd be starting about 40 minutes prior to tip-off. After his first NBA game as a starter, we talked to Hawk about the experience.
"It was pretty cool. I was locked in getting ready for the game, I knew I had to make the best out of this opportunity. So I just played the best I could and put my heart out there," said Hawkins.
"I was trying not to 'fanboy,' but it was pretty surreal guarding Steph Curry," he added, explaining Curry was one of his favorites to watch growing up.
Us fans were all ecstatic for Hawkins, but he laughed it off explaining, "I try to downplay everything to keep myself sane. I didn't even tell my family I was starting tonight."
Standout Player of the Game
#24 Hawkins, at the age of 21, carried the team through the first half of the Nuggets game with 16 points, including sinking 4 of 7 three point shots. While the rest of the team started slacking in the second half, Hawkins kept his own—with a team leading score of 31 points in his 7th ever NBA game.
While Hawkins has earned double digit points in two of the three games he'd started in prior to the Nuggets game, he'd shocked many in this past game by dropping 30+ points, a feat only one other rookie has accomplished this season (number one draft pick Victor Wembanyama).
Hawkins had tied his own college career high of 31 points and also tied Trey Murphy III's franchise rookie record with 7 three pointers in a single game.
"Not all rookies get these opportunities," said Hawkins, "I'm blessed with the coaching staff I have and the teammates I have."
One thing Hawkins' teammates compliment him on is his confidence. "I never get hung up on a missed shot. I've been keeping my head in the game and working hard," said Hawkins. He plays with style, as he doesn't just put numbers on the board but maintains a collected front and doesn't let himself get overwhelmed.
Zion has even commented, "I always have high praise for Hawk. A rookie that comes in with confidence like that against the defending NBA champions…now that's big time."
"He's fearless," said Coach Green, "When he's open, he's gonna shoot it. He's aggressive. It's beautiful to watch."
Further, Hawkins is a true team player at the end of the day. "I try to make my shots and make it easier for my teammates to get to the rim. That's what it is—a team, and a team effort where we all work together," he shared after the Nuggets game.
More to Come!
There is a long season ahead for Jordan Hawkins and the rest of your New Orleans Pelicans. Check back in for all of the best updates, highlights, and standout stories from the Pels—or catch a game this 2023-24 season at the Smoothie King Center. See you there!