New Orleans Pelicans 2021-22 season: Awards for Week 2

New Orleans Pelicans guard Devonte' Graham (4) and center Jonas Valanciunas (17) and forward Herbert Jones (5) Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans guard Devonte' Graham (4) and center Jonas Valanciunas (17) and forward Herbert Jones (5) Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /
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New Orleans Pelicans, Jonas Valanciunas
Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

New Orleans Pelicans: MVP of the Week

This award is looking to be a two-horse race for the first couple of months of the season. In one lane you have the reigning champ, Brandon Ingram, making an early bid for All-Star consideration. Right next to Ingram is the main challenger, Jonas Valanciunas, staking his claim as the most underrated center in the league.

Both players have done a tremendous job keeping the Pels afloat and in games. Without these two, New Orleans would be lucky to have one win.

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Ingram’s boxscore averages of 25/7.3/4.8 would easily be a career-best season before taking into consideration his 52.3 effective field goal percentage while being the unquestioned number one option for this offense. Add in his commitment on the defensive end (he may not be locking opponents up but he’s trying every night) and New Orleans has a player they can be proud of.

The only real knock against Ingram winning the award for an unprecedented second time is he missed a game this week. A player missing time is nothing new and I expect every Pelican to miss a few games here and there. But this award is only based on the games played in a one-week span and that will hurt BI’s case with the voters.

Valanciunas is attempting something that has never been done by New Orleans Pelicans’ big man, average 20 points and 15 rebounds for the season. After seven games JV is at 19.4 points and 14.6 rebounds, this has been a remarkable start to the season for Valanciunas. His rebounding numbers will take a hit when Zion returns but New Orleans needs to keep JV as a focal point of the offense when that time comes.

The only issue so far with Valanciunas has been minutes, as the Pels are going to kill him if he has to keep playing 33-35 minutes per night.

Valanciunas gives the Pels an option at the center position that fans haven’t seen since DeMarcus Cousins laced em up back in 2017-18. In fact, that’s who JV is competing against for the best single-season as a Pels center (just playing 80 percent of the games at this level would earn that honor), The ability to run their offense through the post for the first time in five years should not be overlooked as to why the Pels are competing in these games.

For the first time, this season Jonas Valanciunas earns the MVP of the Week award. In the three games played, JV averaged 22.3 points and 14 rebounds while shooting 60.5 percent from the field. The big man answered the call every game last week. Without him, there’d be a pretty massive hole to fill in this Pels roster.