Pelicans: Nickeil Alexander-Walker has a shot at Most Improved Player

Nickeil Alexander-Walker #0 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Nickeil Alexander-Walker #0 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans are counting on internal improvement as a path to the playoffs and will be relying heavily on Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

NAW is poised for a breakout season after having an up and down sophomore campaign that ended with him averaging 11 points per game.

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The Pelicans will have some new faces in the starting lineup and NAW could be one of them, as he could move into the shooting guard slot vacated by Eric Bledsoe, or even play the point in “jumbo” lineups if the Pelicans want more defense on the floor.

Either way, he is going to have an expanded role and is set up to be one of the most improved players in the NBA.

Pelicans: Nickeil Alexander-Walker could blow up in a new role

NAW spent the summer playing with Team Canada, which should be a great experience for him, and there is every indication that he is going to come back much more confident and hopefully with some new tricks in his bag.

There’s also his history, as Nickeil Alexander-Walker has been very good in the starting lineup, though he hasn’t had a ton of reps there.

He has averaged 19.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 14 games in the starting lineup for the Pelicans, and if he can hit those numbers for a full season, he’ll definitely be in the running for MIP.

This is especially true if the Pelicans improve as a team. It’s debatable whether their roster has improved, so we’ll have to wait until the games are real, but if the Pelicans can even make the play-in tournament they will have a few players in consideration for awards.

So I am going to make a bold prediction: NAW will thrive in the starting lineup and get close to his averages as a starter. Because of his improvement, the Pelicans will make the play-in tournament and he will take home the Most Improved Player award for his efforts.

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