Nearly one year ago, Jose Alvarado did not get selected in the NBA Draft. Now, in the Pelicans’ first-round series against the Suns, the Brooklyn native is showing that he’s worth every penny of his new four-year, $6.5 million contract.
The 24-year-old has been aiding the shorthanded Pelicans, who are currently tied at two with the top-seeded Suns, and cementing himself as a New Orleans folk hero every step of the way.
During Sunday’s 118-103 win over Phoenix, Alvarado recorded five points, two rebounds, one assist and two steals in 18 minutes. However, it wasn’t the stats that made the Georgia Tech product stand out, but rather two instrumental plays that helped the Pelicans clinch the win.
In Game 4, Alvarado picked Chris Paul’s pocket with one of his patented sneak-from-behind steals and forced the Suns guard into an eight-second violation. The former Christ the King standout was proud of the two turnovers he forced from Paul and noted that getting one of those sneaky steals was a goal of his entering the series.
“Couldn’t wave me off of that one,” said Alvarado, whose backcourt steals have earned him the nickname “Grand Theft Alvarado.” “I got him — that’s one thing I wanted to do, actually. I got him on my list.
“He’s one of the best guards out there. It’s all love. No disrespect. But I’m going to be there. I ain’t running away from no smoke. It’s nothing personal. I’m going to stand on my own. I’ll pick up fullcourt, make the game difficult for him.”
Alvarado has garnered quite a large fanbase in NOLA. During Game 4, fans in Smoothie King Center cheered his name and gave the rookie a standing ovation.
Actor Jamie Foxx, currently shooting the Amazon movie “The Burial” in New Orleans, was on hand for Game 4 and praised Alvarado afterward. After being gifted a signed game-worn jersey by Alvarado, Foxx discussed how the pair had met and played a pick-up game together during Alvarado’s days at Georgia Tech before wishing the rookie luck for the rest of the series.
“Jose, we’re all with you, baby. Go get what’s yours,” Foxx said in the video.
The Suns-Pelicans series will return to Phoenix for Game 5 Tuesday.