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Jose Alvarado is a pure NBA throwback

Jose Alvarado has become the best Puerto Rican baller in the NBA. And with a career-high 38 points against Denver, fans are starting to recognize his potential.

The modern NBA has evolved so rapidly that many of the player archetypes we came to love in the 90s and 2000s, like traditional post-ups bigs, pass-first guards, and mid-range power forwards, have been phased out. Luckily, small but mighty dawgs like Jose Alvarado still have a place in today’s game.

The diminutive 6-foot guard is cut from the same cloth as 2000s-era hustlers like Allen Iverson, Kenny Anderson, Earl Boykins, Sam Cassell, and Stephon Marbury. Alvardo might not be tall, but he’s a defensive ace with a high motor. He currently averages 10.0 ppg while providing the New Orleans Pelicans stability at the point guard position as the backup lead guard.

Perhaps it’s because, like Marbury and Anderson, he is a New York “point god,” hailing from Brooklyn and starring at Christ the King High School in Queens. Alvarado is no punk and routinely raises his game against the league’s best players. He dropped 15 against the Lakers, 13 against the Bulls, and 15 against Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Oklahoma City Thunder. But Alvarado just outdid himself, scoring a career-high 38 points on 12-19 shooting against the Denver Nuggets, vaulting the Pelicans to second place in the Western Conference.

Alvarado has already earned the respect of his peers. Now he might be on the ledge of stardom.

Alvarado reps BK and Puerto Rico

With Carmelo Anthony currently without a job, Alvarado can be considered the best Puerto Rican player in the NBA. He is half-Mexican and half-Puerto Rican and represents Puerto Rico in international competitions.

Alvarado is similar to the Argentinian Manu Ginobili as a bench spark who comes into the game bringing havoc, disrupting the opposing team’s game plan with steals, three balls, and lock-down defense. Alvarado has the best defensive rating of any Pelicans guard who plays over 20 mins per game and is often tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best player while finishing games in defensive lineups. Last season, when analyzing on a per-minute basis, Alvarado finished first in the entire league in steals and third in deflections among those who logged at least 500 minutes last season.

The odds were against Alvarado to stick in the NBA. As an undrafted player in 2021, Alvarado was seen as an undersized shooting guard in a point’s body. He held pre-draft workouts with eighteen teams, but none took a chance, leaving the door open for the Pels to scoop him up after the draft. But even in college, he showed his defensive chops, being named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year while with Georgia Tech, Marbury’s alma mater. He started on a two-way contract with the Pelicans, quickly playing his way as a key rotation piece off the bench. His hard work and efficient game saw his two-way contract converted into a standard 4-year, $6.5 million contract, making him one of the best contract deals in the league.

One of the league’s top defensive dawgs

Alvarado joins fellow dawgs Alex Caruso and Fred Van Vleet as the grind-it-out defensive pests willing to do whatever it takes to win. Alvarado has spoken about watching the film of Spurs great Tony Parker, a score-first point guard who was only 6’2” in the land of the NBA giants. You can see flashes of Parker’s game in Alvarado: the stutter steps, quick change of direction on drives, footwork in the paint, and calm under pressure. Alvarado has all the traits that make for an elite off-the-bench guard and has already proven himself up against the best point guard of the modern era.

For the Pelicans to take the next step towards contention, it will be from Alvarado’s game catching up to his dawg mentality, which is already at an elite level. The Puerto Rican baller is proving to the 29 other teams that thought he was headed toward extinction he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.