New Orleans Pelicans: The Player of the Week Awards from week 1

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports /
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New Orleans Pelicans, Herbert Jones
Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) defends New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

Young Player of the Week

While normally this would be a rookie-only award, this Pels team is so young that there are plenty of candidates who have a shot at the crown each week. To qualify for this award a player needs to still be on their rookie deal, so while BI is still under 25 (usually the dividing line between young and veteran) he is not eligible for this award (he easily would’ve won if eligible though). Devonte’ Graham also misses out here because of the contract he signed this summer.

The criteria are a little more subjective than MVP as I’m weighing expectations very heavily here. While Zion will be eligible for this once he returns, he’s set the bar so high for himself that it would be hard for him to surpass expectations and win. That leaves us to examine the cases of just a few players this week. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Trey Murphy III, Jaxson Hayes, Kira Lewis Jr, and Herb Jones.

Related Story. Fans should be excited about this lineup. light

Minutes played is an easy way to whittle down this list some more. Hayes and Lewis have played just 53 and 49 minutes respectively. While I like what I’ve seen in that limited action from Hayes, it’s just not enough time on the court to make a big enough impression. Hayes is still on my nightly watch for the player most likely to shatter a backboard but he’ll see limited playing time with JV around.

Kira has been a little shaky this season what was his calling card last year, very few turnovers, has flipped in the early going. Last year Lewis had just 34 turnovers in over 900 minutes played, this year he already has six in under 50 minutes. Hopefully, it’s just a blip on the radar and not a long-term concern but Lewis doesn’t seem as confident in the early going.

That leaves us with NAW, TM3, and Herb. Nickeil came into this year with some lofty expectations among the national media. Many predicted he would be the Pelican to make a leap. He’s earned his way into the starting lineup and played pretty well. His averages of 17.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists are nearly all up from last year (assists are down slightly), more than backing up the predictions of those who thought so much of him.

That’s the hard part about this exercise, NAW has played very well and could easily win this award if it weren’t for those pesky predictions. I don’t want to take away from anything the third-year guard is doing, he’s turned in nothing short of A-level work this season.   But this is what we all wanted to see from NAW.

Trey Murphy III was pretty solid the first week of the season. Playing 84 minutes across the four games and knocking down 41.2 percent of his attempts from behind the arc. He’s played ok defense and shows signs of being above average in the future. I think Trey will see his performance pickup the most when Zion returns. Right now defenses don’t have to commit every player to stop a freight train rolling to the basket and so there’s less space for Trey to get his shots off.

That leaves us with Herb Jones. While he may be older than his competition for this award, he had fewer expectations coming into the year. A strong performance in Summer League put Herb on all our radars though and he’s only exceeded what we’d hoped.

Jones didn’t start in the opener against Philly but has been a part of the starting five ever since. While he doesn’t score very much (just two points per game), he also doesn’t do anything to hurt the Pels when he’s on the floor. Always moving the ball to find the open man, a possession never dies in Herb’s hands. He’s even third on the team in offensive rebounds with six. Quite simply Herb does all the little things right and has earned the first iteration of this award.