Don’t sleep on Jose Alvarado. The 23-year-old Puerto Rican, rookie point guard, who plays for the New Orleans Pelicans in the National Basketball Association (NBA), has already earned a nickname for his wily defensive flair.
Jose “Grand Theft” Alvarado, a reference to the popular video game Grand Theft Auto, has generated a reputation on the court for his sneaky defensive moves, which often end with Alvarado stealing the ball from his opponent.
For example, look at the crafty defensive play Alvarado pulled off last week during a game against the Portland Trailblazers. As Portland inbounds the ball to start the play, Alvarado, instead of running to the other side of the court to set up on defense, hid at the top corner of the court (nearly camouflaged in his red jersey) and waited for his opportunity to strike.
Once Portland’s point guard started dribbling the ball up the court, Alvarado proceeded to run up behind him to make a quick steal and get his teammate an easy basket. “This is what Alvarado does,” the play-by-play announcer said after Alvarado picked Portland’s pocket. “He does this, like, once a week.”
In a compilation video of his highlights this year produced by the Pelicans, Alvarado can be seen creeping up on several opponents as soon as they secure a defensive rebound or start moving the ball towards midcourt. “You relax, he’ll burn you,” another commentator says.
Originally from Brooklyn, Alvarado played four years at Georgia Tech before going undrafted in the 2021 NBA Draft. After splitting time this season with the Pelicans and its NBA G League affiliate team, Alvarado signed a 4-year, $6.5 million contract with New Orleans last week. He is averaging 11.9 points, 5.9 assists, 3.8 steals, and 3.6 rebounds, per 36 minutes.
“Been through it all ain’t nothing to fear,” Jose Alvarado wrote on social media. “I gave it my all, that’s why I’m here.”