New Orleans Pelicans 2021-22 season: Week 3 awards

Head coach Willie Green of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Head coach Willie Green of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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New Orleans Pelicans
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) dribbles during the first quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /

New Orleans Pelicans Young Player of the Week

As a reminder, this award is not just for rookies but any player who is still on their rookie contract. Sadly the young Pels didn’t have a stellar week so this award loses a little of its luster. The two-time reigning winner, Herb Jones, was out all week with a concussion after taking friendly fire from the Pels big man. Without Jones on the floor to stymie opponents, the Pels had a difficult time slowing the opposition.

As I just mentioned the young Pels had a pretty poor week so this award will fall to Nickeil Alexander-Walker almost by default. Do I feel great about it? No. But someone has to win the award and this week was choosing from the best of bad options.

NAW managed to score 14 points per game, despite shooting a woeful 20.8 percent from behind the arc. Expectations matter when determining this award and to some degree, I think Pels fans have tempered what they expect the third-year guard to do on a nightly basis. That doesn’t mean he can’t turn it around, though the most troubling sign to me is that NAW isn’t making his catch-and-shoot tries from behind the line, perhaps some time with the shot Doc can fix that.

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The other candidates for this award were Trey Murphy III, Jaxson Hayes, and Kira Lewis Jr. None of that group set the world on fire this week and none managed to play more than 15 minutes per game.

I thought this would be a big week for Murphy considering he was starting to heat up in week two after a cold week one. The loss of Ingram means teams were even less willing to slough off of Murphy and create space for him to shoot. It’s still early and Murphy has played some decent defense so far this year but he’ll need to get back to torching the net, 18.2 percent from three just won’t cut it.

Jaxson Hayes looked to be in line for a promising season but an offseason arrest and an ankle injury during the preseason have caused some of the shine to wear off. If Hayes is unable to get back to where he was at the end of last season, Billy Hernangomez will be set to see more minutes as the backup center.

Kira Lewis Jr has had an up and down season, but he seems to be playing with less confidence than last year. Maybe that lack of confidence is leaking into other areas because Kira is turning the ball over once more per game than he did as a rookie (in fewer minutes). It was probably unreasonable to expect someone to average fewer than one turnover per game in the NBA but Lewis didn’t look overmatched as a rookie.

Back to NAW, with Zion and BI out, this is the perfect time to jack up shots and get into a rhythm. The problem will come if he continues to play like this when the stars are back. From what I’ve seen from NAW so far in his career, he might just be an inconsistent shooter. The Pels can work around that as long as he plays good defense and moves the ball when he’s not making shots. I’m not ready to give up on NAW but his leash has gotten shorter.

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