New Orleans Pelicans: MVP of the Week
This was really a two-horse race between the guys who carried the Pels to start the season. BI averaged 27 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 4.8 assists while shooting 50 percent from both the field as a whole and behind the arc. Couple those numbers with a 31 percent usage rate and that’s a pretty strong case to take home this newly minted and very valuable award.
That level of scoring punch and efficiency are career highs for BI and he did this while being much more engaged defensively. No, he’s not a lockdown defender but he was good enough this week to at least keep his matchup from going off and torching New Orleans. That’s a major step in the right direction for BI and hopefully he will maintain this level of buy-in and commitment all year.
His main competition came from the recently acquired Big Science aka Jonas Valanciunas. The big man was handed a slate of tough opponents in his first week with a new team. Starting with Joel Embiid on opening night, JV had to play against All-Star caliber centers in every game so far (Nikola Vucevic and KAT twice). Valanciunas did ok defensively against Embiid but not many centers can last an entire game against a possible MVP.
JV held his own against those three and showed why the Pelicans signed him to an extension on the eve of the season. 17 points and 15 rebounds are JV’s averages in this young season. Surely those numbers will decline once a certain someone returns but it shows that New Orleans has a capable second in command should any more time be missed.
In the end, Brandon Ingram earns the first edition of this award for his stellar play in leading the New Orleans Pelicans so far. Without BI this team would have little hope of accomplishing anything this season and would look rudderless against the teams they’ve played.