Jared Harper a bright spot off the bench in the Pelicans’ opener against Portland

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Whether it was during his brief stint with the G League’s Birmingham squad last winter or at the end of the NBA regular season in April, Trey Murphy III has seen it before. Point guard Jared Harper is more than capable of getting hot at all times, delivering instant attack from the backcourt.

Although New Orleans struggled as a team on Saturday in its Summer League opener against Portland, the 5-foot-10 Harper was a bright spot, scoring 18 points in 29 minutes off the bench. The Summer Pelicans needed that spark because they had shooting problems from everywhere on the Thomas & Mack hardwood except for the foul line. In an 85-68 loss, Harper’s 18-point night featured a 7/9 outing on free throws.

“It’s just Jared Harper,” Murphy said of the Auburn product’s performance. “He’s going to be solid. He will score the ball for you, lead the team. He will also play excellent defense. It’s not at all surprising. »

Harper spent the majority of 2021-22 with Birmingham, where he averaged 21.2 points during the G League regular season. He enjoyed brief stints with the Pelicans, appearing in five official games. The Atlanta native capped the final weekend of April 9 and 10 by once again displaying his ability to generate offense at the pro level, scoring 12 and 10 points respectively against Memphis and Golden State, while totaling only 27 minutes in this back-to-back. He also dished out nine assists against the Warriors.

The 24-year-old will likely continue to have opportunities to produce in Las Vegas as New Orleans lottery pick and starting guard Dyson Daniels was ruled out on Saturday with a right ankle injury in the first half. -time. Daniels is currently being evaluated; its status is to be determined.

During the rest of the summer league and the offseason, Harper worked on his conditioning and improved his shooting as he entered the paint. He’s officially a three-year NBA veteran, with his 43 total minutes for New Orleans in 2021-22 being the most he’s recorded in the league.

“I’m just trying to keep getting better,” Harper said. “I feel like I did a good job overall in my third year with the G League and then coming to the Pelicans at the end of the year with some productive games. led to my offseason before year 4.

“Being in better overall shape is probably the most important thing (to focus on this summer) and being more efficient. Every year in the G League, my (percentage) from the field and my three points have gone up. Sure, I’m smaller, (but) I can shoot, so (opposing defenses) try to force me into the paint. So I (work) to be able to finish with both hands and do different shots, while being able to create as a whole.

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