All the time in sports, we see fanbases falling in love with players who may not be the best talent on their team, but the guy that gives it their all and brings a ton of energy each and every game.
For the New Orleans Pelicans, this guy’s name is Jose Alvarado and over the last couple of months, he has quickly become one of the most cherished people in the entire city of New Orleans!
Coming out of Georgia Tech this past year, Alvarado ended up going undrafted in 2021 and was quickly picked up by the Pelicans on a two-way contract.
The energy he brought from Day 1 with the Pelicans was unmatched and throughout the course of the regular season, the undrafted rookie worked his way from a two-way player in the G-League to seeing big minutes during the final few weeks of the regular season, helping the New Orleans Pelicans hold onto the 9-seed in the Western Conference and eventually make the playoffs.
As a result of his play, Alvarado earned himself a four-year, $6.5 million contract with New Orleans back in March.
Now in the NBA Playoffs, Jose Alvarado finds himself being one of the first players off-the-bench for the Pelicans in a series against the Phoenix Suns, who won a franchise-record 64 games this season.
For a player standing just about 6’0” tall, energy and toughness are two words that are hard to come by, but they accurately describe Jose Alvarado.
His presence on and off-the-floor resonates not only with his teammates, but with the entire New Orleans Pelicans’ fanbase.
This past Sunday, the Pelicans defeated the Suns 118-103 to even their first-round series up at 2-2 and Alvarado played a huge role in this victory.
In 18 minutes off-the-bench, the stat sheets say that he only had 5 points, 2 rebounds and 2 turnovers, but Jose Alvarado had two huge steals and really gave the Pelicans’ rotations a shot of energy that could be felt throughout the entire arena.
His signature play in this game came with just over 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter, when the rookie snuck behind Chris Paul and stole the ball right out of the future Hall-of-Famer’s hands, resulting in a wide-open layup for the Pelicans and Herbert Jones.
Both Jose Alvarado and Herbert Jones have been huge rookie additions for the New Orleans Pelicans this season and veteran guard CJ McCollum has recognized this.
“They’re not afraid, man. Nothing sweet over here. These guys are tough, tough-minded,” McCollum said. “They work to get where they’re at. They’re going to be ready for whatever challenges thrown their way.”
Chris Paul, one of the greatest point guards of all-time, almost never gets overwhelmed, but Jose Alvarado has seemed to get in his head numerous times during this first-round series, just adding more reasons to the list of why Pelicans’ fans love the 24-year-old rookie so much.
Having your name chanted and echoed in your home arena is every player’s dream and for Jose Alvarado, this has happened multiple times in the NBA Play-In Tournament and NBA Playoffs this season.
“We wanted to bring the fight to them,” Alvarado said in his postgame interview following the Pelicans’ victory in Game 4. “That is the main thing that we had a focus on. They’re a really good team and just be physical, that’s what we try to pride our focus on and that’s what we did.
“With CP [Chris Paul] you know, he’s one of the best guards out there, it’s all love and no disrespect, but I’m gonna be there and I’m not running away from no smoke… I’m going to do my part. Pick up full-court, try to steal the ball from him, and make the game a little difficult for him.”
Jose Alvarado’s defense on Chris Paul was extremely note-worthy in Game 4 and has been this entire series so far.
Between drawing an eight-second call on Paul and stealing the ball from behind him, Alvarado has found ways to be successful defensively against one of the greatest guards in the NBA and the crowd has shown him a lot of love for his efforts.
“NOLA man, I love this city, I love what they do and hearing all that, it never gets old,” Alvarado said in response to the fans chanting his name near the end of Game 4 on Sunday. “I see it and I hear it and it’s like man, it’s crazy. This city’s got my back and I got they back and that’s 100 percent.”
Very rarely do we see undrafted rookies completely captivate an entire fanbase, yet alone in the NBA Playoffs, yet this is exactly what Jose Alvarado has done in New Orleans this season.
He may not be the biggest player in the league, nor is he a household name in the NBA, but Jose Alvarado plays with a chip on his shoulder night-in and night-out, looking to prove that he and his team are real threats in the postseason no matter who they are playing.
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