Young stars in the making? Pelicans guards Alexander-Walker, Lewis shine versus Clippers
The movie “A Star is Born” had three iterations.
In 1937, Janet Gaynor and Fredric March were the featured actors.
In 1954, there was a musical featuring Judy Garland and James Mason.
In 1973, Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson highlighted the remake.
In 2018, it was Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.
All too often in sports, we have a tendency to elevate players to star status off of a very short sample size, only to be disappointed, to see the star as nothing more than a brief flash of light that darkened almost as soon as it appeared.
For the 2020-21 New Orleans Pelicans, the stars were already born in Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson.
There is little debate that both are already stars, to some degree, and that their star will only rise and brighten in time.
Wednesday night, Ingram found himself as a forward who was the center of attention for the defense of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Ingram fought his way through a slow start, showing just how good he is. He scored 22 points with six rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
Williamson missed the game due to health protocols. Let us hope he is negative and will be back on the floor producing positive results on this very tough road trip.
Steven Adams is a working class hero, a solid player who does all the right things to help a team win.
Eric Bledsoe and Lonzo Ball, who missed the game with injuries, are not stars. They are contributors, one a veteran entering the downside of his solid career while the other is young with upside, though maddeningly inconsistent.
While there were no star celebrity appearances at Staples Center Wednesday night in the land of stars near Hollywood, the concept of a star being born was certainly the topic of discussion during and now after the game which the Clippers won 111-105.
First, there is rookie Kira Lewis.
He finally got some minutes and showed that he has ability.
Lewis is fast, quick, can penetrate and his shot looks pretty good by comparison to Ball and Bledsoe.
In 16 minutes, Lewis scored 10 points and had six rebounds. He did not have any assists. Lewis made 2-of-3 shots from 3-point range.
Then, there was Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who put on an eye-opening performance.
Alexander-Walker played 33 minutes, scoring a career best 37 points. That included 15-of-23 from the field, including 5-of-8 from 3-point range.
In addition, Alexander-Walker added eight rebounds, along with an assist and a steal.
The Pelicans lack a first-rate lead guard but that is nothing new.
Ball is a combo guard.
Bledsoe is a combo guard.
Alexander-Walker is combo guard.
Jrue Holiday was a combo guard here.
Frank Jackson was a combo guard here.
Lewis is a point guard and perhaps has a chance.
Last night, New Orleans only had 18 assists in their 42 made shots.
Jaxson Hayes was very active, pulling down 10 rebounds with four points and two assists in 19 minutes.
Once again, the poor shooting Pelicans got buried from 3-point range, a regular occurrence, as the Clippers scored 54 points to just 30 for New Orleans from beyond the arc.
That was with Lewis and Alexander-Walker combining to go 7-of-11 from 3-point range.
JJ Redick has really struggled with his shot this season and was just 2-of-7 from 3-point range.
The Pelicans lacked enough shooters to start the season and with Redick shooting poorly, that becomes even more noticeable.
Of course, New Orleans is last in bench scoring in the league but two bench players, who got minutes last night, truly shined at guard.
Perhaps it is a glimpse of the future for the franchise at guard.
Are the Pelicans going anywhere this season?
It is early, obviously, but the team has now lost four straight and that is likely to grow with the Lakers next on Friday.
Ball has an option year coming up.
Bledsoe is an average player.
What can Alexander-Walker and Lewis become?
We are not ready for a fifth version of A Star is Born just yet.
It is incumbent upon responsible observers and reporters not to overreact.
Before we all go “Gaga,” one game does not make a star or a season, though this was a “gainer.”
Still, you would be crazy not to be excited at what Alexander-Walker displayed Wednesday night and you have to be encouraged by what we saw from Lewis.
Now, Stan Van Gundy has to change his approach when Ball and Bledsoe return and continue to incorporate Alexander-Walker, in particular, and Lewis, to some degree, into his rotation, which has been the stingiest and shortest in the league, arguably, to this point.
Then, we will find out if another sequel to the “Star” franchise is, in fact, timely and due in 2021.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…