Being nice to co-workers is one thing. Being nice to the competition is quite another, especially in New Orleans. Dennis Allen found that out the hard way with the New Orleans Saints. Herb Jones hears the respectful words praising past actions, but he is more focused on the fight waiting for the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA Playoffs.

That's why the 2021 second-round pick is urging the team's stars to start setting a far more aggressive tone to finish out the regular season.

Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram are NBA All-Stars. NBPA President CJ McCollum gets paid like one. The Pelicans are now campaigning for Jones to finally get NBA First-Team All-Defense recognition. Jones, known as Not on Herb around the NBA, is not trying to hear the individual award chatter. It's a no-nonsense business and the 25-year-old is anxious to see the second round of the postseason.

“It feels good to have that (All-Defense) respect,” admitted Jones. “But at the same time, they could be saying that and I could go out and not do my job. It could, like almost turn on them. I'll try and do my job, stay consistent, and give the effort out there so they can keep saying that.”

Jones is averaging 11.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. His three-point percentage shooting up from 33.5% last year to 42.9% through 56 games this season has been a revelation. It's a jump more likely to win the NBA Most Improved Player award than anything else. Instead, Jones is encouraging the four guys with abbreviated nicknames to nudge up the offensive intensity.

“I told B.I, Z, CJ, even JV, at the beginning of games they should come out ultra-aggressive just to set the tone.” Jones shared. “I'll try and do my part defensively to set the tone. Wherever that gets the team going, I think we'll be successful in most cases. Coming out that aggressive in each game, no matter if it is a back-to-back with long travel days. Just try and go out and set the tone super early.”

Herb Jones sets Pelicans up for defensive success

New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) and forward Zion Williamson (1) and forward Brandon Ingram (14) slaps hands with forward Herbert Jones (5) after a play against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half at the Smoothie King Center.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

As for the NBA's rule skewing too far in favor of the offense and how that might affect the Pelicans this postseason, the recently-extended Jones was dismissive. Defense is defense. The job is the job.

“I didn't know the offense had leverage,” laughed Jones. “I think guys should start working on their game and, you know, expand their range a little bit.”

Jones is confident that if the Pelicans play up to their standards, everything will work out in the end.

“It does not matter who is out there on the court,” Jones continued. “If we are putting pressure on the other team I think we'll be okay…Playing defense is hard either way, no matter how they try to help defenders or team defending. It's going to be tough regardless.”

And about those playoffs. Pressure? Please. Not on Herb scored 14 points in 41 long minutes against Chris Paul and Devin Booker's Phoenix Suns to help the Pelicans steal a Game 2 road win. The betting favorites barely escaped in six games. The schedule down the stretch and the postseason run is just ramped up outside noise to the avid fisherman.

“It's still basketball,” said Jones. “I'm going to go out and have fun. Offensively and defensively. I think that's what separates me. I just enjoy playing both sides of the ball, trying to affect the game without scoring. That stuff excites me, and that's what I try to do when I go out (to play).”