In Wednesday night’s draft, the New Orleans Pelicans addressed their need for speed, adding point guard Kira Lewis Jr. out of Alabama with their No. 13 pick in the 2020 NBA draft.
With Lewis going to the team, this brings the total of point guards to five for the team after acquiring George Hill and Eric Bledsoe in exchange for Jrue Holiday on Monday.
Lewis, a 6-foot-3, 170-pound combo guard, has been on the radar for the Pelicans and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin.
“We’ve been a very large fan of his game for quite some time, and as we went through the draft process and learned more of who he was as a human being, we were very, very confident that he fits everything that we care most about from a character standpoint and from the way he approaches the game, his work rate,” Griffin said. “Everything about him really speaks to who we want to be from a DNA standpoint, so we’re just ecstatic that he was available.”
Lewis averaged 18.5 points per game and 5.2 assists per game last season for the Tide, and credits his quickness as one of his leading attributes.
“I’d have to say speed, number one,” Lewis said. “Being able to score, create for my teammates as well. I feel like what makes me unique is that I feel like I can do pretty much a little bit of everything, whether it’s shoot, pass, dribble, defend a little bit. I feel like I’m kind of overall better than any guard in the draft, so I feel like bringing that to the Pelicans will be a good thing.”
That speed will pay dividends for the Pelicans, as the team came in fourth overall in pace, averaging 103.89 possessions per 48 minutes, according to the team’s website.
New head coach Stan Van Guny believes Lewis will play alongside Lonzo Ball, as he will add more playmaking to the team.
“I think if you really look around the NBA now, one of the trends we’re seeing for teams that I think is a good one is to try to get multiple playmakers on the floor, a lot of guys that can make plays,” Van Gundy said. “I think Lonzo’s there, we’ve already had Brandon there, we’re excited about Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and now Kira.
Van Gundy is looking forward to using Lewis and his skills to help the team win. What really stuck out to the first-year head coach for the Pelicans is his speed.
“His speed and quickness, both in transition to push the ball, and to get in the paint and make plays, I think those are outstanding,” Van Gundy said. “But I’m also really excited about what we think he can do at the defensive end to pressure the ball, maybe even get up the floor, at times 94-feet and pressure the ball, that’s something I’m really excited about.”